The unstoppable Glasgow Girls
We kickstart the King’s drama programme with Glasgow Girls, the life-affirming, award-winning musical drama that first made its mark at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre in 2012.
Glasgow Girls is based on the true story of seven teenagers from Drumchapel whose lives changed forever in 2005 when their school friend and her asylum-seeking family were forcibly taken from their home to be deported. The self-titled ‘Glasgow Girls’ took a stand to fight for her rights, and ultimately the rights of all children of asylum seekers. They inspired a whole community to unite behind its residents, and later in 2010, inspired theatre maker Cora Bissett to turn their incredible story into a musical. The award-winning show has played across the UK to sold out audiences, who relate to the Glasgow Girls mantra of ‘heartily welcoming all cultures to their country’:
2012: Glasgow Girls premieres at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
2013: Wins Best New Musical at the Off-West End Awards, following a London run.
2014: Sold out run at Citizens Theatre
2016: Tours the UK and becomes the biggest selling show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that year.
2016: Wins the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.
2017: Tours the UK and Northern Ireland
2019: Tours number one theatres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Inverness and Dublin.
Since then many of the real Glasgow Girls have gone on to work in politics, community work and human rights, including:
- Roza Salih: graduated from Strathclyde University after studying Law and Politics and is now working as office manager for Chris Stephens MP for Glasgow South West
- Emma Clifford Bell: now a journalist for BBC Scotland and works hard to get 'real people' on the telly.
- Jennifer McCarron: works as a Child Development Officer for Glasgow Clyde College and studying BA Childhood Practice at Strathclyde University;
- Amal Azzudin: graduated with a Masters in Human Rights and International Politics and works for the Mental Health Foundation. She has worked voluntarily in refugee camps in Greece, was honoured at the Saltire Society’s Outstanding Women of Scotland 2016 and won the University of Glasgow's World Changing Alumni award 2018.
Director/Deviser Cora Bisset said: ‘When I first was drawn to the story of the Glasgow Girls in 2010, I had no idea that the matter of refugees and asylum seekers in the world would transpire to become THE most urgent and prescient question of our times. I am of course saddened this is the case and that Western governments continue to have a huge impact on the various wars, which ultimately displace hundreds of thousands of innocent people from their homes. I do however feel that this story could not be more timely, in the way in which it brings compassion back to the people at the centre of these crises, and personalises their stories so that we as an audience can connect our humanity with theirs. We would all do exactly as they do, were we in the same position.
In 2010, I discovered Lindsay Hill’s brilliant documentary of the girls’ story ‘Tales from the Edge’ and got to know Lindsay and the whole gang. After watching the footage, I came to the surprising but exciting conclusion that this story should be told as a musical. It was the girls’ energy and can-do spirit that made me feel this story should be sung. It was a celebration of solidarity, of a group of teenage girls realising they could affect the world they live in, a celebration of a city I love deeply, and of those people in it. I went about finding the collection of composers of vastly varying styles to somehow convey the multi-cultural hybrid of influences that the girls themselves were borne from.
Over two years, I began developing the show, experimenting with the songwriters and working closely with Hilary Brooks and David Greig. We always wanted to treat people’s real lives with the utmost care and respect. We invited the girls, Euan Girvan, Wilson Blakey, Noreen Real and Jean Donnachie to all of our development stages, and shared the script with them, which they gave feedback on, and gradually built their trust. They have continued to come to every outing the production has and have become lifelong friends with many of our cast.’
Glasgow Girls is at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Wed 23 to Sat 26 January.
There will be an Amnesty International post-show discussion Glasgow Girls co-founder Amal Azzudin and writer David Greig on Thursday 24 January.
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