Actor's key role in powerful Holocaust drama Hope Dies Last

Actor Tarek Slater (right) in the powerful Holocaust short film Hope Dies Last by Ben Price
Actor Tarek Slater (right) in the powerful Holocaust short film Hope Dies Last by Ben Price
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A young actor has spoken of his major role in a powerful Holocaust drama which is stunning audiences on the film festival circuit.

Tarek Slater, who grew up in Ashton and Orrell, is one of the two actors in Hope Dies Last, the latest work by Coronation Street actor and director Ben Price.

Actor Tarek Slater

Actor Tarek Slater

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The moving and thought-provoking piece, which is completely wordless, is based on a horrifying true story of a Polish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was forced to cut the commander’s hair regularly for four years, with the pair never exchanging a word.

The piece has had a strong impact on audiences around the world who have seen it, including cinema fans attending the weekend’s Leigh Short Film Festival.

The film came joint second in the audience’s choice vote at the Turnpike Centre on Saturday evening.

Tarek, who attended Byrchall High School and Winstanley College before training at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Alra) North in Wigan, spoke of his delight it was shown in his home borough and his honour at being selected for such a serious part.

Tarek, 25, said: “I really wanted to do Hope Dies Last after going for the audition. It was intense on set; everyone was very respectful and we all felt the weight of what happened.

“Filming it was very powerful and a really great moment. Ben really brought that atmosphere into the room as well, there were moments where he was in tears.

“Getting into the mindset wasn’t too hard because the images are so harrowing and you don’t have to look too hard to find them online.

“Ben brought me into the Coronation Street studio and we spent an entire day going through how it was going to be filmed, walking through all the actions.

“I’m very glad it has been shown in Leigh. It’s really nice that there is such a good film festival happening in the area and it meant my family could make it to watch it.”

Tarek first got the acting bug at Byrchall playing the title character in a production of The Wizard of Oz and decided to embark on a life on the stage after getting to perform in the final of a national competition while at Winstanley.

His theatre studies tutor encouraged him to apply for drama school and he spent three years training in his home town at the facility run by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Adrian Hall.

Hope Dies Last was filmed in a single intense day, with make-up at the studio where Corrie is produced before a trip to Manchester Central Library where a room stood in for the location in the death camp.

Tarek’s performance in Hope Dies Last conveys the complex emotions the prisoner feels as he brandishes the shaving blade.

He said: “The drama of the piece is that it’s a power play, a status game. The commander allows him to cut his hair because he knows he won’t do anything.

“There’s an interview with the actual prisoner he said he was too scared to act. If he had cut his throat it would have brought more death and more pain to the Jewish people. It would have cost more than it was worth.”

Hope Dies Last has been shown at film festivals around the country and also as far afield as Manhattan in New York and Germany.

Tarek is currently working on an unusual retelling of the Arabian Nights to be performed at venues along Manchester’s Curry Mile.