BareTruth Theatre‘s latest work sees them partner up with production company, Time Won’t Wait and charities Plan UK and Forward UK to produce a piece of theatre shedding light on a subject matter that has only recently started to receive awareness within the west. Statistics show that there are currently 170,000 women living with the affliction of FGM, and have until now lived in silence. Although there is a slight awareness in the west, there is still very little knowledge of the life threatening practise.
Highlighting the shocking reality of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), Little Stitches combines the talents of 4 playwrights, Isley Lynn, Raul Quiros Molina, Bahar Brunton and Karis E Halsall as they educate and engage the audience, an audience far removed from this centuries old practise, about the harsh realities of victims unwillingly having to suffer the consequences. These plays are very brave, they stand tall against the atrocities faced by females both young and old, reminding the audience that this not only happens in parts of Africa, but also in the UK, our very doorstep.
The first play cleverly ties the lives of four individuals, each with no obvious relationship to one another, however although never actually meeting face to face, find their worlds colliding by the presence of a young girl. A class teacher, an ice cream van owner, an air stewardess and a post woman. The jigsaw puzzle-esque manner of the monologues are endearing, but become hard hitting once all of the monologue pieces join together and become more in sync with one another, creating a complete picture of a young girls harrowing experiences.
The second piece looks at the perspectives of a nurse, a UN worker, and a victim of FGM as they all talk about their experiences of either going through, or witnessing the after effects of the practise. This play takes a conversational approach, as these characters do not preach, but speak of what they have witnessed. One by one the characters leave the stage, only leaving one voice. Perhaps the most important voice of the piece. Stephanie Yamson places a face on the statistics gathered on victims, as she illustrates the trials and tribulations of a young 20 something living with the effects of FGM. As she casually speaks to the audience about her experiences, this dialogue breaks down the wall created by a lack of knowledge, creating a level of understanding.
The penultimate piece is set after the horrific practise of FGM has been performed. A girl lies in a bed motionless, as two elder women dance the night away, guarding her until she is ‘fit’ enough to leave. The piece is very chilling, with one of the women showing concern as the girl lays shaking, whilst the other appears unperturbed by what has just happened. This piece adds a completely different layer to the subject matter in comparison to the first two productions, as the mindset of this being ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ overshadows. This piece shows the unsettling reality that this practise to some is considered a part of everyday life, a sad reality that in no way should be tolerated.
The final play clutches at the heart strings as a teenage girl speaks of her last day of school for the year. Nadi Kemp-Safyi presents a bright eyed, strong willed teen, who finds most of her sentences dominated by her undying love for Danny, a boy who she occasionally speaks to, but admires from afar. She finds, however, that the day will be imprinted in her memory for years to come, but not for a reason she would hope. The young protagonists monologue switches in tone as she speaks of becoming a victim of FGM, and the worst thing of all is that her family are the perpetrators. A hard hitting piece of theatre that questions the construct of family, identity and relationships.
Little Stitches presents an evening of, sadly, very real situations that continue to happen as we speak. With shows like this making their presence known in theatres in the UK, being knowledgable about situations like this will only make us more powerful and hopefully help to put a stop to tragedies like this! 4/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Little Stitches was shown at the Omnibus Theatre from Monday 13th to Tuesday 14th April. For more information on the BareTruth Theatre Company, and the 2016 UK tour of the production, visit here…