Voices From The Deep is a night of shorts set in Shakespearean verse that blends comedy, satire, heart wrenching drama and cheeky penmanship into one. We witness women from the four corners of the globe navigating lives faced with hostility, violence, sexual intrigue and sometimes, plain boredom.

We spoke to performer Kheira Bay to find out more.

Voices From The Deep was performed as part of The Who Runs The World? Season at The King’s Head Theatre on Monday 7th May 2018. More details can be found here.

You’re performing in Voices From The Deep at The King’s Head Theatre, what can you tell us about it?

It’s a night (7th May) of four short plays melded together by Shakespearean verse, from Paperclip Theatre at the King’s Head Theatre. The night is all female, down to the playwrights, directors, actors (me!) and stage managers. Our protagonists allow us to embrace female stories and highlight inequality around the world.

How were the four shorts selected?

Paperclip’s founder Adriana Samford put out a call and Verity (Fine Hosken), Rachel (Archer) and Samia (Djilli) came back with ideas for plays that could fit in to the overall structure Adriana had in mind. These took the brief and ran with it, taking it into diverse territories in space and time, from 1870s Algeria, to 1560s England and Scotland, to 1880s India.

The fourth play came in via email submission. Helen Cooper’s wonderful play Argent, which closes the show, found its way to Paperclip thanks to Bossy.com. The writers also drew on Paperclips actress members to test out material.

Are they all very different to each other or will we see a theme?

They are very diverse. My character, Suad confronts her mixed identity for the majority of the piece. Later, we see Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of France and Scotland face off. Not for an ordinary battle – a lip sync battle.

The theme throughout is the beauty in a female story. It’s not common to see that many female stories. Women are 51% of the population, yet we more men on screen. Males over 40 make up 53% of all characters on screen. Drama is meant to reflect life, so why not do that?

What inspired your love of Shakespearian verse?

He wrote for everyone. His words were written for sometimes illiterate audiences. Some could only afford to watch one half of the show. Shakespeare had to economise and get to the point fast, which is why his work is brilliant. He took risks.. If there’s ever been something painful you’ve had to say – he’s been there, done it and it will penetrate very deeply into your mind. Ever had to say goodbye and pretend you’re happy about it when you’re dying inside? Ever had to swallow your anger when those in power dismiss everything you haven’t done? Ever needed an acting lesson? It’s all there.

How does it feel being part of the Who Runs The World Season?

Fabulous! It really is a joy to indulge in the words when I am performing them. There seems to be a bias against women’s stories on London stages, with only two pieces of sixteen pieces programmed at the Young Vic in 2017 being written by female playwrights. Likewise, the Almeida programmed only one female playwright of six plays, whilst the Old Vic actually programmed zero pieces by women. Here’s a thought – maybe women actually want to see themselves and their stories represented on stage. Especially in a way which isn’t ridiculed with menstruation, childbirth or domestic goddess representations.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly

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