Written and directed by Julia Samuels, designed by Miriam Nabarro for 20 Stories High/ Contact Theatre Manchester. This verbatim play, created from over 40 interviews around issues around young people and abortion, was hugely successful, and was subsequently commissioned as part of BBC Performance Live, into a 50 minute film, directed by Lindy Heyman and shown on BBC2 and in many film festivals.
Acted out on a stunning set designed by Miriam Nabarro, consisting of four white boxes dominated by two suspended red neon lights, representing the positive lines of a pregnancy kit, the four performers share with sensitivity, tears and often laughter, the experiences of four women who have all had abortions.... Rightly so at the end of the performance, Alizah Khan, the exceptional Dorcas Sebuyange, Emma Burns and Jamie-Lee O’Donnel, were treated to a standing ovation.
The ovation was also in part for the nameless contributors who gave permission for their stories to be shared and also for Julia Samuels who with this piece, has created both an outstanding piece of verbatim theatre and also made a timely contribution to the global movement to challenge the reduction of Women’s rights.
“…a vivid, clever piece that fuses tough subject matter with wicked humour and moments of pungent emotion” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
“...a joy just to hear these women speak so openly” The Stage
“...ninety minutes of well crafted, challenging and gripping theatre”
Film written by Julia Samuels
Directed by Lindy Heyman
Designed by Miriam Nabarro
DOP Deepa Kershvala
Music and Lyrics by Keith Saha
Cast: Aizah Khan, Dorcas Sebuyange, Emma Burns, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell
Press image for BBC Performance Live, which was screened in 2018, and has since been touring film festivals
For the final tableau, the story of ‘ Cousin’, a young Zimbabwean girl who died from complications relating to an illegal abortion, is told through song in a set that is both recording booth and clinic, allowing different focus points for camera.
The final moment is a slow pull out revealing that the set is a construction on stage, gradually revealing the theatricality of the piece in its journey from stage, to screen.
During an intense week of research and development, working in the rehearsal room, I created these collages, using photos and Paula Rego’s incredible prints and drawings from The Abortion Series. This led to a storyboard from which the pared down set of 4 freestanding ‘islands’ with strips of pink neon as the Pregancy test positive, allowing an abstract setting against the literalness of the verbatim process.