A Girl With a Book and Other Plays
by Nick Wood
“I am not a lone voice, I am many.” Malala
A Girl with a Book and Other Plays brings together four plays for young people by acclaimed playwright Nick Wood. Topical and wide-ranging, they concern refugees, friendship, loss and courage.
You know those sentences that start I’m not sexist/racist/homophobic and the speaker sticks in the word but and goes on to prove that’s exactly what they are? Yes, well, my sentence would have to be ‘wouldn’t the world be a much simpler and safer place if everybody thought like me?’
The title play, A Girl with a Book is an honest response to the story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban. Produced many times in Germany and the UK, the play raises serious questions about the West’s complex relationship and attitudes to the Muslim world.
“shows how the courageous actions of a single person can be decisive for the way we see the world.” Hamburger Abendblatt
“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.” On Religion journal
“…a journey into empathy and imagination coolly and cleanly done. A crucially important tale well told with great humanity.” Stephen Lowe, playwright
“all written…with young people in mind although not necessarily for young audiences so there’s plenty of scope here for schools, colleges and youth theatre groups. The title play… has a cast of one… The remaining three plays use larger casts and explore asylum seeking, friendship, loss and courage.” Susan Elkin, The Stage
A Girl with a Book: Nick Wood’s poignant political drama A Girl with a Book is based on the true story of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafza. In 2012, gunmen stopped a bus in Pakistan and shot three young girls. Their crime? Wanting to go to school. Knowing nothing about the situation, able to offer little more than outrage, the writer is forced out from behind his desk and in the search for answers to help him tell the story of a brave young woman’s fight for girls’ education, but when his research uncovers attitudes at odds with his liberal convictions he has to face what he learns about himself. Achieving international acclaim after its opening in Hamburg, A Girl with a Book examines Malala’s story through a series of questions, for instance, whether a middle-aged, middle-class white man could ever understand the world of a young Pakistani girl. Using quotes from Malala, the two other girls involved in the shooting and Malala’s father, the writer’s journey attempts to piece together the story and come to an understanding of the issues surrounding it. He speaks to members of different communities, his own wife and even imagines speaking to Malala herself. During the process Wood remains grounded in his stance as an outsider looking in, picking at the hypocrisy of how we can criticise the oppression of women in one culture but not another as he struggles with his own prejudice and privilege. He asks how a girl who wanted to go to school could become such a target.
Bird boy: On an ancient fortress, two boys swear a pact of friendship. Eddie and Tim create their own den up on the Knoll, a secret place for heroes. The only problem is, winter is setting in and Eddie won’t come down. As the snow falls, Tim must decide whether to take food to Eddie or betray him by telling the grown ups where he is. It is a play about transitions from childhood to adolescence, from loner to friend.
Mia: Of Roma background, Mia is a refugee who has lost her home, and most of her family. She has odd bits and pieces in her bag, which have stories attached to them. Mia has received a postcard of this town from her sister, Sofia, who has disappeared. She tells them about Sofia, shows them a photograph and reveals her fears.
A Dream of White Horses: Paul’s father, Rick, was a professional climber who fell to his death climbing a cliff in Wales. Paul wants two things – to climb the same cliff and to find out whether his father’s death was an accident or suicide. He is helped by friends Stevie and Martin, from the same town. On the climb, Paul discovers what happened to his father, and a great deal about himself.
About the author
Nick Wood was an actor, a freelance journalist, and a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. Commissions include: Radio 4, Derby Theatre, Eastern Angles, Thalia Theatre Hamburg, Action Transport, The Drum, Plymouth, Theatr Iolo, Hans Otto Theater Potsdam, Jumper Up Theatre, and Nottingham Playhouse. Plays include: Warrior Square, Mia, A Dream of White Horses, My Name is Stephen Luckwell, The Children of the Crown, and About A Band. His plays have been translated into several languages and performed in France, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Hong Kong, USA, Canada, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Denmark, Montenegro, Russia, Switzerland, and South Korea. With Andrew Breakwell, he started New Theatre Nottingham and recently returned to acting touring his new one-man play A Girl With A Book. Currently, there are twelve productions of A Girl With A Book by companies in Denmark, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In June 2016 Eastern Angles revived their production of his adaptation of We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea and in September his adaptation of Mick Jackson’s The Underground Man opens at Nottingham Playhouse before a UK tour, and also in the autumn Getting Better Slowly, a play involving dance and verbatim theatre about Guillaine Barre Syndrome will open its tour at the Lincoln Drill Hall.
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