Wound Up Theatre is seeking support for the London debut of its critically acclaimed, Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award listed play, Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy, which has been offered a full-length slot at the internationally renowned VAULT Festival in Waterloo.
Bismillah! is a ‘Bold and Thought Provoking’ (Mark Lawson, The Guardian) piece of new writing. It applies a compassionate and humorous approach to an incredibly vital discussion about the experiences of disenfranchised youth in modern Britain.
Through an intelligent yet accessible dialogue, the play examines the impact of racial, social, economic and religious politics on young people in contemporary society.
It is the story of disenfranchisement, social alienation, prejudice and the rock band Queen.
The show is set to run from the 28th February 2018 – 4th March 2018, but the only way to ensure this important piece of theatre reaches the audience it deserves is with your generous support.
The production was initially developed in 2015 as part of the Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Company and was written by playwright Matthew Greenhough in response to the targeted radicalisation by extremist groups of disenfranchised young people in Britain.
Bismillah! tells of the encounter between a young British prisoner of war from Leeds, and a London born young British Muslim boy who has defected to join the Islamic State.
The Edinburgh production played to rave reviews:
Broadway Baby gave the show Five Stars describing it as 'one of the best shows I have ever seen at the Fringe or anywhere else.' It also described the subject matter as “the conflict that has led to the play is probed informatively and with great sensitivity through the course of this dazzlingly intelligent script. Greenhough has clearly researched contemporary academic views on terrorism, so much so that the character of Danny should almost come with a citation to the work of political scientist Professor Louise Richardson. That is the intellectual level on which this show is operating.... This is a fiercely intelligent, masterfully acted theatrical treat, which prompts tears of both laughter and sympathy."
Since the Edinburgh debut Bismillah! has enjoyed support and development from London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East. It has also been the subject of discussion and praise at Mock the Week – Comedy and the Politics of Representation, an academic conference in 2016 hosted by Teeside University, at which writer Matthew Greenhough was invited to speak.
Being Part of the Dialogue.
Three years after it was originally written, the social and political elements of Bismillah! are more urgent and in need of discussion than ever. At its core the play explores the nature contemporary radicalisation and social exploitation in the Britain and examines it's relationship with social alienation and economic disenfranchisement, chiefly through those in white working class and British Muslim communities.
These issues were prominent in 2015, but three years on we live in a society that is more fractured than ever before, and the concerns that lead to the play have intensified rather than dispersed. The last year has shown that we live in an age time when Islamophobic propaganda is presented on twitter by the most powerful office in the world as mainstream political policy, and that it is an attitude which echo’s loudly in many areas of society. We live in a time of mass social, cultural and economic alienation. A society where some young British Muslims are still groomed into violence and lead to believe the warped ideology of a death cult who celebrate attacks on British streets. We live in a time when whole swathes of young people across Europe are engaging in xenophobic intolerant right wing movements. When we live in a time where these things prominent, we feel theatre should not shy away from confronting these important issues. That is what we seek to do with ‘Bismillah!’. We are keen to restage a show which offers a message of multiculturalism tolerance, compassion, in order to promote discussion and conversation around these difficult subjects. We don’t want to preach, but explore these circumstances with compassion and humour. We want to be part of a dialogue. And with your help we can be.
We could not be more thrilled to be finally bringing the production to the London stage and can think of no more fitting a platform than VAULT festival, with which to launch this new production.
We see VAULT as a first step to getting this important piece of new writing the attention it needs to have an extended theatrical life. We wish to ultimately tour the show around the country and try to secure an extended London run, in order to bring the dialogue about radicalisation and disenfranchisement to the widest possible audience, but it can't be done without your help.
Much of the major costs of the VAULT production is being provided through the generous support and help in kind from organisations including the VAULT Festival itself, Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Working Party Theatre Company. But we need your to help us raise the money to cover our modest production budget, so that we can make this show all we believe it can be.
Please help us make this vital first step towards achieving our goal.
Matthew Greenhough – This production marks the return of Matthew Greenhough to the project. Creative director of Wound Up Theatre, and writer and co-performer of Bismillah!, Matthew is an award winning theatre maker, actor, playwright, comedian. His most recent project was: ‘#VILE: The Untimely Demise of a Manufactured Pop Star’ at the Edinburgh Festival. Matthew also wrote and performed in the original Fringe version of Bismillah!, His Debut was 2013’s ‘Delusions of Adequacy’ at the Fringe. As an Actor he has appeared in a number of high profile music videos and award winning short films. He trained at Northumbria University receiving a First Class Honors. While studying he was part of the team that was awarded first prize at the Dioiz International Theatre Festival in Croatia for a devised piece: ‘In Our Hands’.
Jonny Kelly is a theatre director and dramaturg, who has been involved in the development of Bismillah! For over a year, after being introduced to the project by Theatre Royal Stratford East.
As co-founder of NorthSEE Theatre, he has recently directed Hyem (Theatre503 and Northern Stage) and The Passing Of The Third Floor Back (Finborough Theatre.)
Other direction includes A is for Ali (Old Red Lion Theatre), Money Womb (Theatre503), The Special Relationship (Southwark Playhouse), Boys Will Be Boys (Soho Theatre), and Call Centre (New Wimbledon Theatre).
Associate and Assistant Direction includes assisting Justin Audibert on Flare Path (No. 1 National Tour) and Nina Raine on Donkey Heart (Trafalgar Studios). He was Assistant Director on both The Hard Man and Unscorched at the Finborough Theatre. He was also the resident assistant director of Papatango Theatre Company.
He trained at East 15 Acting School.
Sofi Berenger is an award-winning theatre and film producer from Melbourne, Australia. Starting her career in film production, Sofi produced a number of award-winning shorts and worked on projects for clients such as World Vision, TopShop, Live Nation, London ZSL Zoo, HSBC and Cornetto. As an independent producer Sofi has worked in venues such as the Arcola Theatre, Arts Theatre, Jermyn St Theatre and St James’ Theatre. Currently, she is the General Manager for Iris Theatre and won an Offie award in 2017 for their production Treasure Island and her productions are nominated for a further 5x Offie awards this year. Sofi also produces London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season at The Scoop and is very excited to have her VAULT festival debut with Bismillah!
What we need
Producing theatre on London’s fringe is expensive and so we are relying on the generosity of others in order to make sure this thought provoking and politically relevant piece of theatre makes it to the stage.
Our artists are to be paid from potential ticket yield at the festival that attracts over 80,000 audience members annually. However we need your help to make sure there is an show for that audience to see.
Our budget is incredibly modest, and many of the production costs associated with producing a show are being provided to us as help in kind from partner organisations who believe in the project. But in order to promote the show, ensure that we have basic costume and set, and ensure that we can create an immersive experience and take our audience away from the vaults under Waterloo station and on a journey with our characters we need your support.
£500 will cover the initial outgoing expenditure needed to get a show on the stage. If we are able to raise beyond that we would be able to invest more into and ensure higher production values for the show, however £500 is the minimum we need to make our dream of staging Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy in London a reality.
Please help support new writing, emerging artists and important political works by giving generously.