Writing

On this page you can find some samples of my writing ranging from full-length dramas to devised monologues.
Sample One: This is an excerpt from an in-progress, full-length play I am writing entitled Shem. Its original inspiration came from my character in East 15’s Living History Project, which was set in a post-WWII Russian Gulag. The play centres on four people trying to find and hold onto themselves – their shem – across war-torn Europe, and explores the importance of language, words, and names in shaping and maintaining our identities.
“Concentration Camp. Night. The women’s barracks.
All the women are in the barracks.  Sarah, a new arrival, walks in. She is shaken.
Esther: Hello.
 Hello. My name is Esther. What is yours?
Sarah: I have no name anymore.
Esther: That’s how they treat us, but we can’t treat each other like that. What is your name?
Sarah: 172002.
Esther: Don’t say that. If you want to survive in here you have to have some hope. You have to hold onto yourself. What is your name?
Sarah: What does it matter here? Soon I’ll be a corpse.
Judith: Well our only chance at not becoming a corpse is to want to stay alive. We all call each other by our names here because that helps. We would like to call you by your name too.
Sarah does not respond.
Esther: I was named after Esther. She was a normal young woman like us. She was also an orphan like many of us now are. She was happy in her life and wished to remain like that. But one day she was selected to go to the King of Persia to become his wife. She was scared, but knew she had no choice, so she did her duty bravely. When she arrived at the palace the king fell madly in love with her and made her his queen. As queen she had one enemy at court, and that was Haman-
Judith: I think you mean Hitler.
Esther: Hitler- the infamous anti-Semite. One day he issued a decree that all the Jews in the land should be killed. Esther was afraid for her life. She knew that she wasn’t safe, even though she had never revealed her identity as a Jew to the king, but lived in silence for years because it was too dangerous.
Miriam: My parents made me hide my identity for years and live with an Aryan couple so I wouldn’t have to live in the Ghetto. I had to tell them my name was Mary instead of Miriam so they wouldn’t know I was Jewish.
Esther: Esther was very troubled by this decree, and after thinking about it for a long time she realised that she couldn’t be silent while this happened to her people. So her cousin Mordecai told all the Jews in the land to fast and pray for three days, and at the end of the three days Esther would go to the king on her embassy, even though it was illegal to visit him. At the end of the three days she approached the king and invited him to a great feast. He accepted. At the banquet she asked him to a second banquet. He also accepted this invitation. At the second banquet she stood and revealed her identity as a Jew. She revealed Haman’s cruel plan, and begged him, “Please spare my people.” The king was shocked at Haman’s plots, and immediately reversed the decree. Esther had saved her people. I was named after her so I would be as strong and brave and true to myself as she was. We were all named for a reason.
Judith: My name is Judith. Judith lived in a town that was being besieged by an enemy who wanted to conquer her and her people. The town waited patiently for God to save them. But because they could not leave their town the people soon became very thirsty and were desperate for water. The town elders eventually decided they would wait only five more days for God’s miracle. Judith thought the town elders were dictating God’s decrees and miracles themselves, not listening to God. So she called them to her and chastised them. Then she took matters into her own hands. She and her maid tricked the enemy into trusting them, and snuck out of the town every night to visit the enemy camp. Gradually Judith seduced Holofernes, the enemy king. One night, he invited her to a banquet. Overpowered with her beauty, Holofernes became very drunk and fell asleep. When Judith was left alone with him she chopped off his head with his own sword. The enemy was conquered and Judith and her people were left in peace. I was named Judith so I would grow to have her leadership and her independence.
Miriam: I was named Miriam after a woman who was so strong, so good, that wells sprang up in the desert near her giving water to her people. She led the women in a song and dance of freedom as they crossed the Red Sea. Going by my name I should be leading my people to freedom, but here I am.
Judith: Perhaps the time will come when you can. What is your name?
Sarah: Pause. Sarah. Sarah, mother of the Jews. A prophetess. Pure, and beautiful. She earned respect. That’s what my father always tells me. What he always told me.
”
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As Esther, in the East 15 Living History project – the inspiration for Shem.
Sample Two: The Nomad’s monologue from Indigo, directed by Magdalena Skerencak and devised by the company for the 2017 International Festival of New Work, at the Corbett Theatre, November 2017. Indigo is a play about people finding humanity in each other, and a God who is disappointed in the actions of humanity. I played The Nomad, a God who has no power to control human actions, only the power to begin or end the universe. This is the closing monologue of the play, where The Nomad – too disappointed in humankind to carry on – decides to restart the universe.
“You have seen me before. I was on the bus the day you did not get the job – again. I bought the rest of your groceries when you could not pay. I was the janitor in the library that night who saw what that man tried to do to you. I bake the bread that the hungry eat. I keep the flowers beautiful. You see me in the sunset and the coloured leaves. All of you have met me – even you who believe you never have.
Yes, it’s me. You call me The Nomad, God, Yaweh, Allah, Odin, Shiva, Inkosi.
Most of you think that I am omnipotent. That I control the moon, the stars, the tides. That I have a plan written out that controls your fate. Who you will be born to, how and if you will meet your soul mate, when you will die. But I don’t, I don’t get to choose your fate.
What kind of God would I be if I did? What kind of God would I be if I decided that someone gets to die peacefully in their sleep, and another has to die slowly and painfully by an illness? What kind of God would I be if I gave mansions to some, and watched as others gasped in the ocean as they fled their burning homes? What kind of God would I be if I put the idea into some peoples’ head that there are whole groups of people who do not deserve to live because of the colour of their skin, what they think God is like, or the gender of the people they love? What kind of God would I be?
No. All I have is the power to even out the good and bad in the world. I bring people together where I can, I deliver justice where it is deserved. I plant flowers.
Each of you has a piece of me in your souls, and I carry your souls with me wherever I go. For each bullet you fire that kills innocent people, for each cry for help you ignore, you sicken and choke our collective soul, cutting off its lifeblood.
The only thing I can do is end and begin our universe. So now I bring with me the dark rain of mercy. Let it fall from heaven with forgiveness washing over the deeds it witnesses.
Black wash over green, black wash over black.
These are the souls of the world, and here they shall be cleansed and here they shall be reborn into the explosion of light and sound that will be our next universe, our single song.
My work is done. Now I will go with the rain.”
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As The Nomad in Indigo, Directed by Magdalena Skerencak, Photo by Tongchai O. Hansen
Sample Three: Olya’s monologue from Three Kingdoms, by Simon Stephens, directed by Tom Hughes, at the Corbett Theatre, March 2018. Three Kingdoms is a black comedy and detective story about the discovery of a sex trafficking ring, and explores our own personal responsibility for the world that still allows this. At the urging of the playwright we improvised as a company on the text, making it our own. We reached a version in which I played a series of trafficked or abused women who were all metaphorically and literally voiceless until I broke the pattern with this monologue, written and delivered not as a character, but as me, about my thoughts and experiences with gender and power structures in today’s world.
“I haven’t said anything so far – two acts and I’ve said nothing! I’ve hardly even faced the audience! So here goes.
Something I think about a lot is how society wants me to be a liberated, at ease person. I’m supposed to feel amazing, and walk confidently, and not give a fuck what other people think. But I think most people probably think I’m kind of uptight, that I don’t really know how to let my hair down, that I don’t know how to let go. And that’s true.
But part of the reason I’m like that is because society doesn’t make it easy to be yourself. I’m afraid that if I wear a lower cut shirt, someone will look down it. That if I have something to drink, I will be followed home. That if I don’t look over my shoulder every couple of minutes, I will be raped. I’m tightly wound, I’m nervous, and anxious, and sometimes paranoid. I don’t trust you until you’ve proven that you’re innocent. And I find myself beating myself up for this! I should be less judgemental, less harsh.
But then I think about it, and I think: Why would I not be like this, when in my first twenty four hours in a foreign city, six complete strangers tell me I’m sexy, and another man follows me from my apartment?
Why would I not be like this, when wearing clothes that make me feel like myself makes me feel sexualized by a man who doesn’t understand that I didn’t dress like this for him, and that it is scary for me to admit that I want to wear this suit and have a flatter chest, but I also want to wear lace and heels, and that’s confusing!
Why would I not be like this, when I feel called from the bottom of my heart and the tips of my fingers, with a desire that takes my breath away, to tell stories as an actor, and I know that in six months – hah, it’s not six months anymore is it!? It’s like…three and a half! In three and a half months I will be entering an industry that relies on reputation – a reputation I could apparently lose because I won’t have sex!
I want to believe that society is changing, but I can’t expect change to happen unless I’m willing to be a part of it. So I’m trying to be less tightly wound, to let my hair down more, and to let go, and the only real way I’ve found to genuinely do that is to be more myself. To come out, to stop being talked over, to wear the blazer. It’s fucking terrifying, and it feels fucking great.
So I want to thank the Academy for this incredible honour, and for this platform to use my voice. I want to thank my parents – they’re right there watching – for their unending support and their unconditional love, for teaching me to question authority, and to be curious. I cannot possibly name you all, but here goes: I want to thank President Trump, Vice President Michael Pence, Brexit, the Neo-Nazi’s of Charlottesville, Harvey Weinstein, Adolf Hitler, homophobes, people with confederate flags on the back of their pickup trucks, and lack of gun control legislation for making me really fucking angry. This would not be possible without you.”

 

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As Olya in Three Kingdoms, Directed by Tom Hughes. Photo by Gemma Mount