Hard-hitting drama, AISHA, which explores the taboo subject of child marriage in the UK, returns to the London stage this winter. Created by theatre company Ailia, the play runs from 3 to 8 December 2018 at Old Red Lion Theatre, 9 to 10 December at King’s Head Theatre and 4 to 5 January 2019 at Tristan Bates Theatre. That’s three opportunities to see the production, so get booking!
AISHA tells the story of a 14-year-old girl whose parents force her to marry a 51-year-old man. Aisha is sold for an expensive bride-price that her parents use to better themselves while they abandon their daughter. It is an act they justify using by cultural and religious traditions. Aisha’s husband is sadistic and abusive. She cannot leave the house, communicate with the outside world, or even wash herself on a regular basis. She is denied every human right. How will she cope?
The play, which is written, directed and produced by 25-year-old Londoner AJ, was first seen at the Hen & Chickens Theatre in 2017. Afridiziak said of that production: “By not sugarcoating the reality of underage child brides – by presenting the topic in a clear, honest and technically strong way – the writer/director AJ has done his job,” while View From The Cheap Seats called it “engrossing”.
The production has been altered since last year. At the Hen & Chickens Theatre it was staged with an ensemble cast. This year it is staged as a one-woman play. Former Young Major of Newham, Alex Jarrett, takes the title role. Her previous stage roles include Boyz and Gyals at Theatre Royal Stratford East and Hacktivists at the National Theatre. She also appeared in the London Olympics Opening Ceremony and will feature in the upcoming BBC miniseries, Les Misérables.
Speaking about the production, AJ said:
“I strive to create unconventional and thought-provoking work that audience members can deeply engage with. Theatre should be and can be used as a medium to transform society. AISHA is a clear representation of this; I chose to artistically portray the grave effect child marriage can have on a child, in hope that the conveying of this will bring to light a social-ill that is somehow dangerously overlooked.”
The Home Office estimates that between 5,000 and 8,000 young people a year are at risk of forced marriage each year. In 2017, almost 1,200 cases of forced marriage were reported to the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), and of these, more than 25% involved victims under the age of 18. In the 2017 report published by the Home Office and Foreign Office, which runs the FMU, the departments stress: “Forced marriage is a hidden crime, and these figures may not reflect the full scale of the abuse.”
AISHA runs from 3 to 8 December 2018 at Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4NJ, from 9 to 10 December at King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper St, London N1 1QN and from 4 to 5 January 2019 at Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, London WC2H 9NP. Performance times and ticket prices vary by venue. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!