Glasgow Girls is a celebration of the power of teenagers and a community with a cause, the freshly re-imagined production returns to the stage, with a new design, cast and a highly charged musical score.
Glasgow Girls is a life-affirming, song-filled Scottish drama based on the true story of seven teenagers, whose lives change forever when their school friend and her asylum-seeking family are forcibly taken from their home to be deported.
Cast includes: Roanna Davidson, Callum Cuthbertson, Sophia Lewis, Stephanie Macgregor, Terry Neason, Patricia Panther, Shannon Swan and Kara Swinney
Roanna Davidson recently took time out to answer a few questions about Glasgow Girls:
Q: Glasgow Girls: How and when did you first become involved in the production?
Roanna: I’ve been involved with the show since 2011, I remember the very first time the real girls walked in the door to see us singing Glasgow Girls. It was very emotional, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place!!
I’ve been very lucky to see the whole process, I’ve learnt so much about how much goes into making a production of this scale. The amount of people involved, songs that never made it to the final cut, scenes that were loved but had to be lost. At no point have we been able to be precious, telling the story in the best way is always the goal. It sounds simple but it’s been a real juggling act!
Q: What can you tell us about Glasgow Girls?
Roanna: It’s based on a true story of seven schoolgirls from Drumchapel, Glasgow who took on the immigration system and won. Essentially it’s a story about community and questions what it means to ‘belong’. It’s a musical with enormous heart and it’s energy is infectious!
Q: You play the role of Agnesa. Can you tell us about her and how she fits into the storyline?
Roanna: Agnesa is a Roma Gypsy from Kosovo. She and her family fled in 2000 for safety and found themselves in Glasgow. In 2005 14 immigration officers burst into her family home at 6.00am and drove her, her mother, father and two brothers to a deportation centre in South East England. Their abrupt departure sparked the Glasgow Girls campaign. Agnesa is a glamorous and popular girl “everybody in school loves her”. She has a huge heart and I’ve had such fun slipping into her shoes for the show. We speak to all the real girls regularly so we’ve grown up with each other over the last few years. When this tour finishes Agnesa and I have got a date with a dance floor back in Scotland!
Q: Described as “a life-affirming, song-filled Scottish drama…” What is at the heart of the production and the music?
Roanna: The real girls and the Glasgow Girls campaign. Throughout the development honoring their story and celebrating the achievements of the real people has been at the forefront of our ambitions. Cora wanted to make a piece of work that could make a difference in the world. Which is why winning the Amnesty International Award at the Fringe this year was particularly special. The real girls themselves are so vibrant and full of energy, at 15 they were bursting through the walls. So it makes sense that this production became a musical, it had to grab you by the scruff of the neck, it had to be contagiously playful.
Four composers put the show together and they’ve all got very distinctive sounds. Cora Bissett, John Kielty, MC Soom-T and Patricia Panther. Everyone was so generous with their work so what you hear in the show now is many layers from a lot of talented musicians from all over the world.
Q: Do you have a favourite song in the show?
Roanna: All the songs are pretty catchy. I’m a massive MC Soom-T fan so the title track ‘Glasgow Girls’ gets stuck on a loop in my head! But my favorite song has always been ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’. Written by our Director Cora, it’s a tender disagreement between Amal and her mother about the personal costs of raising your voice to fight for your beliefs, it’s also a really beautiful tune.
Q: What can you tell us about the rest of the cast?
Roanna: The cast is a mixture of newbies and returning cast. We’re a mixture of actors, musical theatre, composers and musicians. We’re a good balance of performers that have been through many variations of the show and fresh cast who have stepped in and stormed it with only a week rehearsal!! We’ve also acquired our violinist Laura, who adds another beautiful dimension to the show and represents the other children at Drumchapel High. We have our different strengths and all the cast are incredibly generous with helping each other out, there’s a lot of support, we’re very lucky.
Q: Who should get along to see Glasgow Girls?
Roanna: Young people, young girls in particular. Glasgow Girls is such an empowering representation of the younger generation. I used to think Daily Mail readers but with the amount of scaremongering in the media I think it’s important that we reach a wider sector of society. So anyone who is “fed up about hearing about asylum seekers“, we’ve got some answers you need to hear direct from real humans!
People who think they don’t like musicals! Forget what you think you know.
Interview by Neil Cheesman
“A sign painted on stage said, “Save our Neighbours” and the final character said, “Everyone who fights for the rights of others is a Glasgow Girl“. If you are at all politically charged by what is occurring, if you are interested is multiculturalism casting, if you are curious about a different experience than yours regarding this refugee crisis, or if you are an actor of colour who is feeling forgotten by the London theatre scene, go and see Glasgow Girls.”
Review of Glasgow Girls by Julie Bergevin London Theatre 1
Director: Cora Bissett; Set Designer: Jessica Brettle; Lighting Designer: Lizzie Powell Choreographer: Natasha Gilmore; Composers: Cora Bissett, Kielty Brothers, MC Soom T, Patricia Panther; Sound Designer: Garry Boyle
Originating Musical – Director & Arranger: Hilary Brooks; Additional Arrangements 2016: Gavin Whitworth, Michael “Mikey J” Asante of Boy Blue Entertainment.
Tue 20th September – Sat 1st October 2016
Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN