What an astonishing way to make your playwriting debut. Theresa Ikoko’s first full-length play Girls was a Verity Bargate finalist and winner of both the Alfred Fagon Award (for Black British playwrights) and the George Devine Award (for new writers).
The premiere production – co-produced by Talawa Theatre, HighTide Festival and Soho Theatre and directed by Elayce Ismail – is now enjoying its limited London season after runs in Aldeburgh and Birmingham, and Ikoko has several more commissions (and exciting news – previewed in the podcast) in the pipeline.
Girls centres on three young girls kidnapped from their home and held hostage in Africa, pawns in bitter religious warfare. It tells the stories of individuals behind international headlines, such as (but not just) Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in 2014. But as much as – if not more than – it’s a story about war, it’s a story about friendship and loyalty.
After yesterday’s Saturday matinee performance (22 October 2016), I hosted a Q&A with Theresa Ikoko and Girls‘ three stars: Yvette Boakye, Abiola Ogunbiyi and Anita-Joy Uwajeh. Amongst the topics discussed: When can you start calling yourself a writer? How can theatre serve unheard voices? Why is joy part of the Nigerian culture? How did the casting of these three actresses influence the development of the characters? And, yes, a bit about Boko Haram as well as Western guilt and the scores of other victims around the world to whom the play is dedicated.
Girls run at London’s Soho Theatre until 29 October 2016.
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) October 22, 2016
Event photography by Peter Jones.