Return to Strode's College

I am very pleased to say that Strode’s College have commissioned me to write another hour-long play for their drama students. After the success of A Dead Girl’s Guide to Life I jumped at the opportunity to work there again. This time around we are looking at the Chechen phenomenon of ‘Bride Stealing’. For those of you not familiar with this horrible practice, often when a young man in Chechnya wants to marry a girl who is less willing, he kidnaps the girl and negotiates the wedding with her family. It is not unusual for the girl to be raped so that the shame will prevent her returning home. Obviously once these kidnapped girls are married many of them are extremely depressed or act violently towards their unwanted new husbands. The solution to this is that they are diagnosed as having been possessed by an evil genie and taken to a ‘hospital’ where they are routinely beaten.

So I’ve spent the last few weeks doing some extremely gruelling research, reading everything I can find about bride stealing, which also takes place in Ethiopia and some South American countries. The topic is a bit of a minefield politically as Chechnya’s population is primarily Muslim and Imams there actually facilitate these kidnappings by negotiating the terms of marriage between the kidnappers and the victims’ families. At the same time we are looking into the Pussy Riot story in Russia and particularly how it relates to women’s rights around the world. Chechnya is still technically under Russian rule but it appears that Russia is allowing the Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, an enormous amount of freedom in how he runs the state. The main difficulty I’m facing at the moment is finding a way to fit all of this into a coherent story but things are beginning to come together nicely.

We had our first workshop this week with two very promising groups of students and the initial scenes I had prepared held up fairly well. The thing I love about working with students is that they say it how they see it making for some really honest and illuminating feedback. Also the energy with which they approach the work is always refreshing.

I have just under two weeks to have a rehearsal draft ready and the play will then be showing at Strode’s around the 20th November! If you would like to know more about the topic there are some links to sites I have found informative below.

Clips from BBC Documentary on Bride Stealing in Chechnya

In-depth article on Bride Stealing in Ethiopia

Kadyrov searches for second wife

Transcript of Pussy Riot closing statements

New York Times opinion piece on Pussy Riot support

Hilary Swank parties with Kadyrov

Latest Blog Posts

The Raid 2

Read my review of The Raid 2 which is really more of a story about how I fell asleep in the cinema. Not because of the film, I was just tired.

John Carter

Once again I felt compelled to watch a film that no one else on the planet seems to have seen despite an insanely pushy ad campaign and a universally indifferent response from critics. Is John Carter as mediocre as it’s cracked up to be? Actually no; it’s quite enjoyable if you’re looking for a bit of adventure with a lot of swordplay thrown in. My only concern is that if you look a little deeper Disney seem to be pushing some pretty questionable morality with this one...

Red Dawn

I can’t comment on whether Red Dawn is a successful remake because I haven’t seen the original, so all I’ll say is that the original film would have to be astoundingly bad to beat this... You know that moment when you’re at some form of social gathering and a stranger says something hilarious without realising it’s even remotely funny? That sums up Red Dawn.

Welcome to the Punch

I don’t really like James McAvoy but I gave him the benefit of the doubt just this once… and he didn’t prove me wrong. The film’s not all that bad though, mainly thanks to Mark Strong and Johnny Harris. Anyway, check out the post in which I mostly talk about beards.

Wrath of the Titans

Once again I have gone against my better judgment and spent almost two hours of my time watching a sequel to a film that disappointed me deeply… thankfully my faith was rewarded as the sequel, while not by any means perfect, was good enough to seem like a vast improvement over the Clash of the Titans remake. I realise that’s not really saying much. Read the review for more of this insightful commentary.