Working Girls Part 1: The Soho ProjectArts Council logo

Mama Quilla in partnership with the English Collective of Prostitutes

To Dismember for Mama Quilla Productions

(Continued from Page 1)

Three Police Statements taken from Working Girls, a short performance piece informed and inspired by unique access to actual police statements, and specially written by Kay Adshead for the Day of Debate and Performance, was performed on 17 October 2009.

Adshead is that rare species, a socialist feminist who believes in fun as well as getting the politics right
— Alecks Sierz, Tribune (on Bones)


In 2010, Mama Quilla initiated a partnership on The Soho Project with The City Lit Drama Department. After a further period of interviews with working girls, Soho residents, feminist supporters of The Policing and Crime Bill and local business people, a longer piece was devised.

To Dismember (a work in progress) is a series of fragment pieces, dismembering the arguments and stories behind the issues. The now further-developed Three Police Statements made up the second half of the programme. It was performed by 22 Drama Access students on May 27 to 29, 2010, at the John Lyon theatre, Keeley Street, London, with a specially commissioned electronic sound score by Tomas Pavelka. In a terrible coincidence, the remains of a working girl in Bradford, killed by the self-named "crossbow cannibal" were tragically discovered on the first day of performance.

As in Pinter's most political plays, you can feel Adshead's anger, and that is better than helplessness in the face of the world's brutalities.
— Time Out (on Bites)


In August 2010, To Dismember (still as a work in progress) transferred to the Lion and Unicorn as part of the Camden Fringe.

An extract from Bridie Moore's MA dissertation "Feeling, Politics and Poetic Form: Kay Adshead a Critical Biography":

The last scene ‘brings into appearance’ the impossible witness statement of one of the victims of the Camden Ripper. What is staged here is the final and horrifically violent ‘seed pearl second’ of this young woman’s life.  The scene, narrated by the murder victim begins outside under ‘a shivering elm’ as she lives her ‘last dripping hours.’  She negotiates with the client and is persuaded by the sight of his ironed white linen handkerchief to go back to his flat.  Here her terrifying ordeal is played out and verse gives way to a desperate exchange between the murderer and victim in which stories of childhood are told.  This dialogue was modulated perfectly to intensify the tension. At one point, in the August performance, the cast suddenly moved apart the two tables that the victim was tied to and the sound of the loud banging sent a palpable shock through the audience; I was so engaged emotionally that this ‘guillotine break’ had a physical effect on me.
— Bridie Moore, University of Sheffield (on To Dismember)


Some of the To Dismember cast, including Eugenia Low, went on to work on the production Breaking, also at The City Lit's John Lyon theatre, and subsequently formed the Mama Quilla Collective.

The Working Girls project is being developed in partnership with La Compagnie Yorick (co-producing with Theatre Jean Vilar de Vitry), who commissioned Kay Adshead to write a 20-minute play for one actor. The Last Little Girl (La dernière petite fille), translated by Severine Magois and directed by Michael Batz, was performed on International Women's Day in the Cine Robespierre in Vitry, Paris, as part of a quartet of plays performed in community venues in Vitry. The other plays were written by Isabel Allende, Juan Radrigan, and Rayhana.

The Last Little Girl was developed in English in workshop with Annie Akin who first performed the character of Sheann in Protozoa, written by Kay Adshead, directed by Topher Campbell, for the Oikos project in the Jellyfish Theatre, Britain's first fully recyclable theatre.

Working Girls for Mama Quilla and La Compagnie Yorick is in development and ongoing.

Actresses in the performance Three Police Statements taken from Working Girls

Kimisha Thompson, Sarah Niles and Kay Adshead in the performance...

Actresses in the performance Three Police Statements taken from Working Girls

...of Three Police Statements Taken from Working Girls by Kay Adshead

To Dismember poster for the performance at The City Lit

The poster for To Dismember

Leigh Gibson in To Dismember

Leigh Gibson in To Dismember

Actress Sarah Akigbogun in To Dismember

Sarah Auber in To Dismember

Eugenia Low and Ben Altimira in To Dismember

Eugenia Low and Ben Altimira in To Dismember

Beth Dorey in To Dismember

Beth Dorey in To Dismember

Annie Akin in Protozoa

Annie Akin as Sheann in Protozoa, written by Kay Adshead, directed by Topher Campbell for the Red Room