A dog from Norfolk, a messiah from Azerbaijan and a teenage kingpin from Africa, plus actors from Chester, make up the cast for the film trailers of new novel Messiah of the Slums.
The novel by Chester-born author Charlotte Pickering was snapped up by US publishers Fey and will be coming out in paperback and e-form at Easter.
Set in Shriveton, a fictional Liverpool ghetto, Messiah of the Slums is a story told by the kingpins, prostitutes and addicts for whom a mysterious young Muslim woman seems to promise deliverance from the drug-infested horror of their lives.
The trailer films will be circulated via media including YouTube.
Author Charlotte, who was born in one of the Newtown high-rise flats where some of this week’s filming took place, said: “I know Messiah of the Slums is a controversial book, which might offend and disturb some, but I was born to write it.”
The soundtrack to both films was written by ex-Chester Cathedral chorister and Liverpool singer-song writer John Henry, who plays tragic kingpin Terry Siddell in the trailers.
“None of the actors were allowed to read the book,” said the author. “All they had was bits of script, plus close direction, for their scenes. It was not contextualised in the wider story for any of them.”
Charlotte Pickering is the pseudonym of Catherine Harrison, who runs CHArts – a Chester-based music theatre production, education and performance company – and charity big band Soundwall, which she founded in 2011.
Catherine, who produced and directed the films, said: “Our life script unrolls with the new moment. Maybe we’re all just blind players trying to stick a tail on the donkey that will carry us off to greener grass.”
The films will be shown in schools, universities and libraries in a living literature campaign, The Power of the Word.
Catherine added: “There’s an edge, a poignancy as the actors realise their script, blind to their fate and where it figures in the whole picture.
“That’s why, in pilot viewings, nobody could take their eyes off the screen.”
For more information, email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.