Culture Clash – the two-woman theatre company that received rave reviews for their production of immigration drama Hannah and Hanna at the Edinburgh Festival last summer – have been awarded funding from Arts Council England for their second project, Under My Thumb, a new play by screenwriter Cassiah Joski-Jethi.
Serin Ibrahim and Cassandra Hercules have been supported by Greenwich Theatre’s artist development programme and Under My Thumb will launch the theatre’s new studio with a run of performances from Wednesday 21 September 2016.
“It’s just wonderful to get this kind of support from the Arts Council and people who believe in us,” said Serin, Culture Clash’s Artistic Director. “It feels like a real step forward for our company, and means that we can pay people properly while developing an exciting new play – both things that are important to us.”
“We have just started a short period of research and development with the writer and director before the final production goes into rehearsal in early September. We’re employing four other actors who all trained on the MA Acting course at Gulldford School of Acting. We are all different in many ways but have great trust in each other so it’s going to be really special.”
Like Hannah and Hanna, Under My Thumb is a play by women that focuses on issues involving women. It’s a dystopian drama about five women imprisoned for “crimes against society”. A sixth female prisoner joins them but is she all that she seems?
“We did so well with Hannah and Hanna in Edinburgh, better than we thought we would ever do, that it inevitably put pressure on the next production,” said Cassandra, Culture Clash’s Outreach Director. “But I’m so confident about this play because its messages around equality and empowerment are so important to me, even more than Hannah and Hanna really. There are six of us and it’s like a family, six powerful, strong women who’ve got their own opinions which, with an amazing writer, should produce a special piece about complex issues.”
James Haddrell, Greenwich Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director, directed Hannah and Hanna and is directing Under My Thumb. He said: “Culture Clash approached Cassiah about producing Under My Thumb after a shortened version was short-listed for this year’s Red Women’s Theatre Awards. The opening of the final, full-length piece in September will begin to establish the identity of our new studio space as a home for new work, a place to try out new ideas. In this case, every night audiences will be invited to comment on what they’ve seen to help CultureClash and Cassiah develop their craft on into the future.
“Our intention will then be to develop the play so that we can tour with it in 2017. It’s fantastic for Culture Clash to receive their first Arts Council grant – it’s a testament to the quality of their work, their aspiration, and the value that our artist support programme can bring to young companies.”
Writer Cassiah Joski-Jethi is a screenwriter who did a year’s work with Gurinder Chadha after meeting the director of Bend It Like Beckham on a train. “Our development rehearsals are going really well,” she said. “It’s always exciting to work with the actors, talk to them and discuss content. We’re looking to generate more content and story lines. We want the play to be at least an hour, so I’ll be working away at my desk for the next couple of months. I’m a screenwriter but I love theatre and this is the biggest scale of work I’ve attempted. I’m kind of nervous because a lot of people say they want to come and see it – so I hope the writing is good!”
*Under My Thumb, Greenwich Theatre, from Wednesday, September 21st to Sunday, October 2nd 2016.
For more details and ticket prices go to www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk