malala-yousafzai-2Unbelievably Malala Yousafzai is only 19! What an extraordinary life this young woman has had.

Born in Pakistan on 12 July 1997 Malala made her first political speech, aged 11, in protest to school closures in her district. In January 2009 she began writing an anonymous blog about her life under the Taliban regime for the BBC. That same year she was the subject of a New York Times documentary, Class Dismissed: Malala’s Story by Adam B. Ellick.On 24 November 2011 she was awarded Pakistan’s first national peace prize.  Within the year, her life was to change dramatically when  on 9 October 2012 she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban, who wished to silence this outspoken young woman who was demanding education for all.

Malala was airlifted from Pakistan to England where she underwent months of operations. Following her release in February 2013 she stayed in England and in April established The Malala Fund, which helps to provide grants for the education of girls.  Since then she has combined her personal education with a series of extraordinary achievements including the publication of her autobiography I am Malala, being awarded the United Nations Human Rights Prize (only given every five years), becoming co-recipient, with Kailash Satyarthi, of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for their activism on behalf of children’s rights, being included in Time’s 25 Most Influential Teens and receiving a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album for ‘I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World.’ agirlwith

For playwright Nick Wood, Malala’s shooting was the starting point for his play ‘A Girl With a Book‘, one of four plays featured in his recent play collection published by Aurora Metro. Nick Wood: “A Girl with a Book was written out of a sense of outrage, a realisation that I had no understanding of the background to the shooting of Malala, and a growing awareness of the demonisation of Muslims and Islam.  The play found its form as I gradually tried to overcome my ignorance by going out and talking to people who knew more than I did. As I did so the primary narrative moved away from being about Malala and the event itself and became an examination of how easy it is, even for a woolly liberal Guardian reader, to absorb prejudice almost without noticing.”

Review from On Religion: “A Girl with a Book has no grand plot. It is about one man, and his struggle to understand why a girl in Pakistan was shot for going to school. As he explores the cropped-facebook-cover-agwabquestions of why, he finds himself struggling also with the prejudices and biases he brings along with him… What author Nick Wood has refused to do is accept the narrative of difference. The media is often accused of ‘othering’, making a community (whether here or abroad) so distinct and different that any possibility of a relationship or understanding goes out the window. The easy option when hearing the news of Malala Yousafzai’s shooting is to think that Pakistan is somewhere so distant, inhabited by people so different, that you could never understand why it happened. Wood rather invites us to better understand Malala, her father, and her kinsmen.” Read this review in full

There are currently twelve productions of this play currently running or scheduled across Europe. If you would like more information, or would like to book Nick for a performance/discussion event go to this website for full details.