A season of seven staged readings of compelling new plays inspired by women’s experiences of global conflict spanning Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Tibet, Bangladesh and occupied France.
WAR Plays was developed to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War.
Some of our best and most original women’s voices in new theatre writing told contemporary, thought-provoking stories of courage, hope and determination amid the chaos, suspicion and displacement of war.
Photos by award-winning photojournalist Kate Holt taken in conflict zones across the world were shown before each performance
This two-week festival featured seven full-length new plays plus two weekend events with leading female journalists and human rights activists talking about the impact of conflict on women.
Short film about the season by Shiroma Silva
“Excellent characterisation combined with clear analysis”
“Fantastic. Strong, timely, patient, moving and well performed.”
“Really absorbing play. Actors inhabited their parts in a totally believable way. A powerful play and performance that pulled me in and held me with its engrossing, intertwined stories.”
“Very well written and gripping.”
“Really enjoyed it, such great storytelling, brilliant writing, important stories to be told, great actors, loved it.”
January 2017. Maya has come to work as a doctor in a UN Displaced People’s Camp near ISIS controlled Mosul in Iraq. Initially she feels free to have left England and her obligations there but as she meets local women and joins their journeys she discovers there is more than one form of freedom in the world.
Read an interview with Anu Kumar here
Director – Aileen Gonsalves
Dramaturg – Penny Gold
Read an interview with Aileen here
Determined to reconnect with his past and obsessed with memories of his long-lost brother, young Afghan refugee Saeed Khattak ventures from London to Kabul. He is soon caught up in the paranoia, suspicion and violence of contemporary Afghanistan. Forced to travel from Kabul to Kunduz he must face up to the realities of a changed world.
Director/Dramaturg – Helena Bell
Read an interview with Rukhsana Ahmad here
Princess, musician and writer of children’s stories, Noor was recruited by the British Special Operations Executive during World War 2 and sent to Occupied France on a deadly mission as an undercover wireless operator. After the war, the senior officer in charge of recruiting female agents meets the German Major responsible for hunting them, and they piece together Noor’s story- one of determination, courage and the power of the imagination.
Read an interview with Azma Dar here
Director Poonam Brah
Read an interview with Poonam here
The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War triggered genocide, a huge refugee crisis and the mass rape of women and girls. Hecuba Birangona draws on the myths of Hecuba and The Trojan women to tell the story of five women being held in a prison camp. They have survived the war but as the Indian Army and Freedom fighters approach they must get through one last day…
Director / Dramaturg – Tessa Walker
Read an interview with writer Sayan Kent here
Layla, a young Afghan woman living in London, is told by her mother that a celebrated Afghan diplomat she saw interviewed on the BBC is a rapist and the murderer of Layla’s father. Pushed by her mother to seek revenge, Layla returns to Kabul only to discover a much darker and more dangerous truth about her own family.
Director / Dramaturg Helena Bell
Read an interview with writer Nushin Arbadzadah here
Ama, a feisty Tibetan woman, is fighting to keep her guest house, homeland and traditions. Her son Karma wants her to leave Tibet with him and his Chinese girlfriend, to seek refuge in India near the Dalai Lama where they could live without prejudice. But Ama stubbornly continues to resist the colonisers, and suspects her one guest – a troubled monk – of being a Chinese spy.
Read an interview with writer Bettina Gracias here
Director – Rosamunde Hutt
Dramaturg – Caroline Jester
Read an interview with Rosamunde here
After being tortured during the Sri Lankan conflict, Krishnaveni has begun a safe new life in the UK. Here she must live with the stigma of being an asylum seeker and the lingering effects of her experiences. This topical new play is based on real life interviews and stories from victims of torture.
Read an interview with Nimmi Harasgama here
Director / Dramaturg Pooja Ghai
Read an interview with Pooja here
Award winning journalist Nadene Ghouri will be speaking alongside award winning photojournalist Kate Holt, both of whom have covered war zones for numerous UK newspapers. They will be joined by Elaha Walizadeh, co-founder of Afghan Women in the Diaspora and Dr Ayesha Ahmad, a lecturer in Global Health with a PhD in ethics, who works primarily in mental health and Gender Based Violence.
Writer Nimmi Harasgama and Director Pooja Ghai discuss My Homemade Kite and the conflict in Sri Lanka with
Marchu Girma – a campaigner advocating for the rights of refugee and asylum seeking women
Piyumi Samaraweera – National Development Manager at WomanKind Worldwide
Dr Madura Rasaratnam – Lecturer in Comparative Politics at City University with a research interest in conflict management and a regional focus on South Asia.
War Plays Production Team
Designer Rajha Shakiry
Lighting Designer Holly Ellis
Projection Designer Louise Rhoades-Brown
Production Manager Kate Jones
Stage Manager Jessica Thanki