December 6 2013 Latest news:
Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Saturday, September 28, 2013
If you have a wife, a daughter, a sister or a girlfriend, well any female relative you should see Crowning Glory.
The play, the first written by Somalia Seaton, promises to deliver a punch as it tackles notions of unobtainable beauty with a liberal dose of comedy at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Told through the eyes of seven women, Crowning Glory features a series of interwoven monologues to convey the Black British female experience. With interviews from members of the public interspersed throughout the piece, the show explores and reflects upon contemporary issues that, while discussed extensively online and through social media, often go unheard in the mainstream press.
It is the first play by the jobbing actress whose first experience at the theatre was with E15 Acting School which began through workshops led by Joan Littlewood. It was also the first place she met mentor Rikki Beadle-Blair who selected the play to be part of Angelic Tales and played an integral part in its development.
Somalia is a Londoner with Nigerian and Jamaican parents. She lives in Lewisham where she went to school.
She said her inspiration for the play were: “Young girls - young girls I have worked with, young girls in my family, young girls I pass in the street. We live in a society where we as women are increasingly expected to present perfect, unobtainable versions of ourselves to the public. While these images are not plausible to ANY women, the media continue to perpetuate western European ideals of beauty , which is even further away from that of women of colour, and it is the effects of this both here in the UK and the rest of the world that needs to be questioned. Who sets these ideals of beauty? Do women realise that these ideals are indeed set? Is it a problem? Maybe not for some, but we are all conditioned and affected, and this intrigues me.
“I had been working at a school in between acting work, the kids I had been working with were in reception at the time and I had been bullied by these five-year-old divas to draw them each a princess, I was careful to make each princess look individual to each girl. I drew one with beautiful blonde hair, she smiled, another with beautiful loose mixed race curly hair, gorgeous long black hair for the beautiful Pakistani girl and finally fierce braids with beads at the end for the young black girl who instantly cried her eyes out.
“She went on to tell me that princesses do not have braids and that it was ugly and she wanted her princess to have princess blonde hair. It broke my heart, but most of all it planted a seed, that would later grow to be Crowning Glory.”
Although the play’s themes are important and call for a conscious audience, Somalia says Crowning Glory is a hilarious, fast paced, rhythm experience, full of contemporary London language and familiar cultural references that she hopes will tickle the audience.
She said: “As well as providing what I hope will be a fun night out, I wanted audiences to feel that we all have a choice to make, we can accept our circumstances or we can challenge them. I hope that by raising this it will help to improve future experiences of young girls in the future, because they deserve to believe that they are enough, in a world that all to often tells women that they are not.
In a world led by sex, celebrity idols and unobtainable, unrealistic images of beauty, the kind of reflection this play gives will I hope help to move the debate on.
“It is an all female cast,that uses the often misrepresented black british female experience to delve into a world of female identity! It’s funny, raw, honest and current, they can expect to go on a journey that explores some of the themes associated with the way women wear their hair - many high profile artists of colour are making political statements with their hair, and are being vocal about that.
“I think it’s about time that the Black British female experience is represented on our stages, people are desperate for stories about our experiences, and I hope to share a few of them. After all, there are so many stories to tell.”
The show will run at Theatre Royal Stratford East from October 17 to Saturday 9 November 9.