I’m Pippa, nineteen years old and currently occupying a few free months before University with all sorts of creative ventures. One of those happens to be serving as a (sort of) intern with Common Wealth! I’ve been given the opportunity to help out with their upcoming piece, ‘No Guts, No Heart, No Glory’ which explores the variety of issues a group of female Muslim boxers face as they pursue a sport they love. The site-specific performance will kick off in Edinburgh as part of the Fringe.
Drawing heavily from extensive interviews with Muslim girls from Bradford as well as amateur female boxers, the content is honest and current, reflective of the attitude shift taking place in Bradford. Thus far, my role within Common Wealth has consisted of assisting at workshops, conducting interviews as part of the research and development stages and also meeting a variety of uber cool people (including Ambreen Sadiq, the first female Muslim boxer from the UK)! It’s been an eye-opening couple of months for me as a hopeful writer; I’ve watched the skeleton of the play become gradually filled out by Aisha and seen the cogs ‘behind the scenes’ on a fully devised, original play.
Personally, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the piece as I feel the message of the production acknowledges much more than just boxing as an outlet. Be it art, performance, sport or anything deviating from the ‘doctor, lawyer, dentist’, there are so many fields waiting to be explored by young Asians who are otherwise pressured into the pursuit of something they don’t want.
It’s pretty damn good getting to work with a cast who are motivated to present being ‘unconventional’ and wanting to do something which is perhaps not as approved of within their culture. I’ve witnessed these never-before actors perform fearlessly in the middle of a bustling Bradford City Centre. Perhaps it’s most rewarding to be involved because it’s clear to see that people relate to the themes we’re exploring; because during this same performance/workshop, many people voiced their support of the production.
It’s refreshing to see a platform like this play, for women in roles that are carved entirely from their own aspirations as opposed to pre-determined by traditional values.
It’s something I have faced as well as the majority of my friends who, in some cases, uncomfortably straddle Western and Eastern cultures. I’ve had the cynical questions many times, ‘What are you going to do with a degree in English Literature?’ to which my response is, ‘I don’t know, exactly. But it’s what I enjoy!’ Sometimes people even ‘joke’ about me getting married off, as if that’s the only respectable outcome, the true sign of success for a woman. But I don’t really find that funny because a) I have lots of things I want to achieve for myself without some fella lurking around and b) quite frankly, the prospect of marriage right now to me=gross.
I feel like this production is going to make a huge difference by crediting those who are already leading by example and also by encouraging many more to strive for their own goals.