Cora Bisset on Glasgow Girls: the Musical
The production tells the true story of three Drumchapel teenagers taking on the immigration system
The dramatic story of the 21st century Glasgow Girls, the teenagers from Drumchapel who, in 2005, banded together to take on the immigration system when one of their friends was threatened with deportation, is an obvious one for the stage. Cora Bissett, whose 2010 production of Stef Smith’s Roadkill, about the horrors of sex trafficking, wowed audiences and embarrassed the authorities, is the go-to person to get such a controversial issue out there. Why, however, make it a musical?
Bissett has a good answer. ‘They have come from war zones – a Somalian, a Roma from Kosovo, a Roma gypsy from Poland, a Kurd from Iraq – but they’re 15-year-old girls. There’s a great life force about them, they decide they want to do this campaign and it’s all guns blazing. They don’t intellectualise it, for them it’s simple: we want our mates back.
‘I don’t want to sit and preach to people,’ she continues. ‘I want it to jump off the stage and have that energy of action now. This needs to be a celebration of just being alive. It’s going to be a musical and I’m not going to apologise for it.’
To match the group’s makeup – the other three members of the cast are their Scottish friends – the music is a ‘glorious big cultural clash’ of folk, reggae, hip hop and pop tunes. Playwright David Greig has written the text, which has not always met the real girls’ standards.
Roza Salih, the Kurdish member of the group, was unimpressed by an early draft. ‘Have you,’ she asked one of the country’s leading dramatists, ‘written many plays?’
Greig’s light touch with the most serious of subjects, as seen in his recent show The Monster in the Hall, is evident here.
‘It’s a complex issue,’ says Bissett, ‘a lot of meaty politics but a lot of fun, a lot of beauty. But if you just want to watch this as a big old romp about seven feisty girls taking on the system, you can.’
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 31 Oct–Sat 17 Nov.