After a successful run at the Hen and Chickens Theatre in 2017, writer/director AJ returns to London with his one-woman play, AISHA. Through rhythmic verse, heavily influenced by contemporary spoken word, the production discusses the practice and repercussions of child marriage; still perpetrated in the UK, with the Home Office estimating that between 5,000 and 8,000 young people a year are at risk.
AISHA is about an underage girl that was forced by her parents to marry an abusive 51-year-old man. She is forbidden to leave the house, communicate with the outside world, and denied every human right. How will she cope?
AISHA is performed by Alex Jarrett, who can be seen in the BBC’s Les Miserables mini-series, alongside David Oyelowo, and Dominic West, in January 2019. She is also the former Young Mayor of Newham.
Production company AILIA is creating new theatre for radical, free-spirited artists; and the open-minded spectator.
LondonTheatre1.com’s Q&A with AJ
Q: How has AISHA evolved from its initial concept to where it is now?
AJ: AISHA particularly elucidates the harrowing endeavours that the underage character Aisha faces in her marriage to a 51-year-old man; however now, it does so without any limitations, or disruptions from other characters. Therefore, from its initial concept, AISHA has naturally manifested into a one-woman play. This play is about Aisha’s story, and hers alone.
Q: Can you tell us about the ‘unique’ writing style in the play?
AJ: It is extremely poetic, incorporating the rhythmic phonaesthetics present in Spoken Word Performance Art. This way of writing partially reverts to traditional oral storytelling, shadowing the techniques of the Griots, or the Greek Bards like Homer and Aesop, who all daringly conveyed stories through the spoken word, in conjunction with the aesthetics present in the medium of theatre. Although those possible similarities can be made, the writing style is truly distinctive, and can’t be heard in other theatre productions today. This way of writing undoubtedly accentuates the explicit telling of Aisha’s story.
Q: What message is at the heart of AISHA?
AJ: We must refrain from turning a blind eye to what oppresses others. We must acknowledge it and provide the oppressed with solace through a helping hand.
Aisha is a British girl, that became a child-bride, because she was neglected, not just by her parents, but also by society. If Aisha’s intrinsic needs were met, would she of became a victim to another man’s sadistic desires.
Q: Why should theatregoers get along to see AISHIA?
AJ: Although this is a play about Child Marriage in the UK, and how it essentially affects a child, in this case Aisha; everyone from all different backgrounds will be able to relate to the topics that are explored in the play, for these topics are not unexampled but broad, and can be witnessed in people’s lives, but modified to the person’s circumstance. In other words, everyone can relate to trauma, a type of abuse, vulnerability, moments of isolation, hopelessness, depression, financial deprivation and many other social and personal challenges, which seem to invade, and then fester in our lives.
December 3rd – 8th 2018, Old Red Lion Theatre
December 9th – 10th, King’s Head Theatre
January 4th – 5th, Tristan Bates Theatre
Age Guidance 16+
Cast: Alex Jarrett.
AJ. Writer, Director, and Producer.
Alys Whitehead. Set Designer.
Joseph Thomas. Light Designer.