Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Fathers 4 Justice hold sympathy rally at theatre

New Fathers 4 Justice hold sympathy rally at theatre

New Fathers 4 Justice held a "sympathetic" rally in Bristol in praise of a new play by Mamma Mia! writer Catherine Johnson, which features two dads battling for access to their children.
Campaigners dressed as superheroes gathered outside the play, starring two fathers protesting on Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge. The work reprises F4J's real-life occupation of the landmark.

A group of 10 Batman, Spiderman and Mr Incredible lookalikes, spoke to theatre buffs on their way to see Suspension, which was staged at the Bristol Old Vic on Tuesday night.

The New F4J was set up by Nigel Ace and Mark Harris and other key members after the original fathers' rights organisation was closed by founder Matt O'Connor last September.

Johnson is a member of the theatre's board who began her career at the Old Vic and her latest play focuses on the pain caused by broken families.

Mr Ace, a 41-year-old sales manager, said it was "brilliant" that the play took inspiration from his movement and hoped that ticket holders would be moved by the themes.

The father of one said: "These are proper theatregoers so we are playing it low-key, sympathetic and melancholic.

"We are fully supportive of this play as it looks at the plight of fathers across the UK and was inspired by our demonstration on the bridge in 2004.

"We didn't want to go on the roof as that would give the wrong message. We are handing out leaflets and hope people will be moved by the play and want to find out more from us.

"Our message tonight is that we are a tragic comedy in a real-life play. In real life the reality is that divorce is ever-prevalent and children are likely to be involved."
Posted by Nigel Ace

This is Bristol Evening Post

Fathers say new play highlights their message

Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 07:36

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A fathers' group staged a demonstration outside the new play by Bristol playwright Catherine Johnson.

Half a dozen members of New Fathers 4 Justice, an offshoot of the original campaign group for fathers' rights, gathered in their trademark superhero costumes outside Bristol's Old Vic Theatre in King Street.

Captain America, two Incredibles and Batman were among those holding banners and handing out leaflets to people going to see the play Suspension. Johnson, who became a household name after the success of Abba musical-turned-film Mamma Mia!, was inspired to write her new work after the Father's 4 Justice protest on Clifton Suspension Bridge in 2004.

The demonstrators said they were there to support the play, and wanted to highlight the issue of fathers' rights.

Roy Booth, aka Batman, is a 54-year-old father-of-two from Hotwells who works at the Citizens Advice Bureau. He said: "I joined New Fathers 4 Justice a year ago; this is to stand up for fathers who get a really raw deal in court.

"This play brings that to light, so we're here to support it."

The demo was attended by suspension bridge protest veterans Pat Lennon and Jason Hatch, the latter best known for his Buckingham Palace balcony protest five years ago.

Bristol coordinator and sales rep Nigel Ace, 41, of Clevedon said: "Dads only want the same right of access as mum's latest boyfriend.

"Why is it that if a mother finds a new man, or any number of new men, they are presumed fine to be with your children from day one?

"They suffer no police checks, they make no court appearances, they simply move in.

"Meanwhile, the birth father has to go through family court hell to even gain limited access to the child or children that are his and who he loves. '

Last night's demo was intended as a forerunner to a national campaign of direct action.

The group's next appearance is due at a St Patrick's Day march in Belfast next week.

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