Culture / Politics / Theatre

Glasgow Girls Capturing Hearts Again

Glasgow Girls  is back home and taking audiences by storm at the Citizens Theatre 

By Anne Austin

Presented by The National Theatre Scotland, The Glasgow Girls which is based on real life events, follows the campaign of school girls at Drumchapel High who passionately fight the authorities when a friend faces deportation and possible imprisonment.

Patricia Panther wowing spectators with her fierce vocals Photograph by Anne Austin

Director Cora Bissett and her colleagues have achieved the impossible with this one. Creating a musical based on political and human catastrophe which binds Glasgow’s east end is truly unique. With a simple stage setting and phenomenal voices, the harsh realities surrounding asylum seekers are portrayed through strong,  loveable characters which highlight the inadequacies of our legal and political system. The music, composed by the talented Kielty Brothers, MC Soom T, Cora Bissett, Patricia Panther and Hilary Brooks, has a note for every emotion. The variety from rap to rock, traditional to  folk offers a lyrical wonderland for this enlightening story. Patricia Panther who plays the lead immigration officer said: “It’s very dark. It’s very real. “Although we’re dramatising the story on stage you can feel a part of how horrible it would be for immigration officers to arrive at your home during the night.” The terrific cast bring tragedy,  fear,  intimidation, and ironically, humour to the stage. Cora Bisset said: “In 2005 a girl living in Drumchapel was taken away in the middle of the night. “I went on demos and marches against forced deportation. “I got in touch with all the girls. If you’re going to tell real people’s stories you’ve got to meet the real people. Then David Greig the writer came on board.”

Director Cora Bisset (left) with original Glasgow Girl Amal Azuddin (right) Photograph by Anne Austin

Commenting on when the show sold out at its debut at the Citizens in 2010, Cora said: “Last time round we knew we’d sold out and people were desperate for tickets, but it takes a lot of money to get a show up and running again and a lot of effort. We’ve had a brilliant producer who’s really been backing that. So it’s back and I am delighted.” “It’s a very human story about people connecting. If you’re living in a block of flats and your best friend comes from Somalia, you don’t  give a toss where they’re from, you go ‘that’s my neighbour, that’s my pal.” Although the show has seen great success, she said: “Our work is not done. In sharing this story we’re saying ‘Come on guys, these Neanderthals that are creating a kind of racist abuse have got to evolve.’ It’s frightening. It’s depressing. But we’re doing our bit to try and show a peaceful way to fight against wrong attitudes.” Original Glasgow Girl Amaka Okafor said: “It’s emotional. I feel it every time I see it played out.” Although it’s only February, Glasgow Girls  is definitely in the running for awards later this year.  While highlighting the city we know and love, its inspiring and powerful message will yield to all who see it. Glasgow Girls will run from 20 February-8 March.

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