March 13 2015
Review of play which puts Muslim women boxers centre stage, quite literally…
By Chayya Syal
ON THURSDAY evening (March 5) a showing of the award-winning production of “No Guts, No Heart, No Glory” was performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The piece of theatre was also listed as one of the must-see shows at London Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival (WoW) 2015.
It was an immersive piece of theatre which involved its audience from the word go. It was an attack on all senses, as we watched the girls practise punches, vent out frustrations, open up about being bullied for having muscular arms and legs as well as humorous, but emotional, discussions about the trials and tribulations of being a 16-19 year old girl.
Viewers were encouraged to stand wherever they wanted in order to get a good view; many chose to stand in the boxing ring while others stood on raised platforms and steps.
“No Guts, No Heart, No Glory” subverted all traditions of theatre by having a standing audience and being entirely performed and watched on stage.
The stage was kitted out with a boxing ring, punch bags, exercise balls and thumping bass music one would expect to hear in any gym in the UK.
Their voices were not of the stereotypically oppressed Muslim women that we often hear about; they were young, determined, ambitious and physically strong women who wanted to live life on their own terms, unapologetically.
A powerful sense of female empowerment, youthful determination and tenacity to succeed against all odds prevailed throughout the performance.
I came away wanting to take up boxing and feeling pumped; I felt the same sense of victory that I feel whenever I complete a strenuous weight lifting session. (Yes, you read that right, I lift weights).
“No Guts, No Heart, No Glory” is an inspiring piece of theatre which – literally – punches its way through social expectations of how young Muslim women are seen in contemporary Britain.
- ‘No Guts, No Heart, No Glory’ will be going to Birmingham Rep in September 2015. For dates, please check http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/