Battersea Arts Centre announces a season of groundbreaking and playful work (April to July 2021) which explores fresh ways of living differently and sharing experiences.
We Wait in Joyful Hope is the story of Sister Bernie, a maverick nun who’s been working for forty years in an inner-city community. Bernie doesn’t fit your image of a typical nun – she smokes pot, knocks heads with police and gang leaders, and she’ll go to any length to protect the women’s center she runs from the encroaching forces of gentrification. The play is fiction, but I was inspired by the story of my own aunt, who was a Franciscan nun in the 1960s and 70s. Together with other young sisters, she took over a tenement building and created New York City’s first shelter for homeless women, which still exists today. Ultimately, it’s a story about feminism, friendship and one extraordinary women determined to take on the world.
One of the truest things I’ve ever heard about playwriting was attributed to the director Max Stafford-Clark: “Every play is part journalism, part autobiography.” When I set out to write my latest play We Wait in Joyful Hope, on commission for Theatre503, I thought it would be more on the journalism side of the equation. I’d written a few plays about contemporary, urban young men (who were often just versions of myself), and this time I wanted to stretch myself. In particular, I wanted to write roles for women.