Reimagining Mary Stuart

In January 2017 Director Elayce Ismail and Sound Designer Alexandra Faye Braithwaite collaborated with 7 students from Clapton Girl’s Academy to create a contemporary response to Robert Icke’s production of Mary Stuart – When I Am Queen.

"In weekly rehearsals, the cast shared stories of powerful women who have fought for change in society. They played with excerpts from Friedrich Schiller’s original text of Mary Stuart to develop characters and situations and used images of powerful women as a starting point for exploring how clothing can be a symbol of power. The cast grappled with timely questions such as: What makes someone powerful? How is power given to and taken away from leaders? And, What responsibilities come with being in power?

Their response is When I am Queen: a theatrical journey through an imagined, modern-day princess’ life as she prepares to be crowned Queen, surrounded by public pressure, paparazzi and a host of palace advisers.

Against the backdrop of similar questions hitting the front pages both here and abroad, it was a privilege to work with such a thoughtful, creative and social-minded group of actors. Their compassion shone through most keenly when each performer brought into rehearsals their own manifesto for the type of leader they would be. These manifestos became the backbone of When I am Queen, and present an inspiring snapshot of young women today."

Elayce Ismail, Director

MANIFESTOS

RUTH
If I was your queen
I would be unique
Unlike others that betrayed you
Promised riches and many other things
And left you with higher taxes, more problems
If I was your queen
My voice would be used as a tool to speak for the more deprived
Education, work and independence
Would be my goal
Equality is my main goal
If I was your queen
I would rule
I would rule for you, me
You and the country

LAUREN
The fate and future of a country depends, not on a leader’s power or a people’s uprising, but a unity, a respect for one another, a balance.

History tells us that conflict starts with unbalance. One group declaring themselves better than another in some trivial way topples the scales and we fall to pieces. Fragmented, we try to put ourselves together again, but we do not succeed until equilibrium is restored.

I cannot promise that I will be a perfect leader; no man or woman has promised such a thing and delivered, and not a single one could. However, I can promise that I will, with all the power I possess, try my best to unify us so that we stand together, one weight, balanced, keeping the scales steady; finding peace, equality and love in a oneness with each other.

NICOLE
I have never really thought about what I could give and gain from this world, because I have never thought that I could decide futures so I left it to other, older people in order to control how our society acts.

But now that I’m in this position, I feel like I have a chance to change how individuals are portrayed and seen in our current society. I can be their voice and share their stories to spread awareness throughout our country. I may not be the smartest or the wisest, but I’m loyal to my causes, and stick by them until they are achieved.

We all feel the same pain and cry the same tears, and even though we all view things differently, we’re all still human beings and deserve to be living in this world. So I will try my best to prevent these tears from being shed over the unnecessary death of innocent people.

SHEMI
We are all one unit, members of one body. We all have a talent. A use. A purpose. We must all join together and assure that we all use our talents to the best of our ability. To keep us moving forward, we must all assure that we all work together to progress. Put aside all your differences and come together, to help us move forward.

I know in the beginning it may be hard for us to unify. Whether it be due to the fact that there may be bad blood between us or we may have talents that others think are unnecessary but we have bigger threats. Our differences are miniscule compared to the threats that face us outside our nation.

We all have a talent. Let us group ourselves together and work together with those that have talent just like our own. Builders unite with builders. Fighters unite with fighters. Carpenters unite with carpenters. Find people just like you and work together. Then all unite when the time comes.

I will try my hardest to ensure that everyone finds the people who they match talents with. Will it be an easy task? Only if you help me and come together.

We are a machine and we will only work if all components are functioning properly.

We are all important.

AYO
If the citizens of Great Britain were to elect me as their new Prime Minister, I would ensure that all my aims and policies for this great country, with great effort, would meet and reflect the voices and needs of the people.

I will try to ensure that there is more support and schemes set up for single parents to help support them with the stress and challenges they face with looking after a child, but also to improve their lifestyle.

I, with great courage, will also try to reduce the rate of unemployment in Great Britain, especially for the youth, where in London unemployment is 414,000. I will also try to ensure immigration and refugee matters are considered more empathetically, and as a nation try to help to give them food, shelter and help build their futures for the better.

With great determination I will try to improve the standard and services of the NHS with the introduction of schemes that include vigorous training, due to our healthcare being already deemed unfit to offer care.

I will also try to increase the wages of teachers, especially secondary school teachers, who spend a lot of hours within their own spare time planning lessons to educate the leaders of our future generations. I will also try to raise cultural and social awareness of people who come from different backgrounds by removing ethnocentric curriculum and ensuring that the curriculum of schools contains the studies of histories of different cultures.

I will also try to reduce the pay gap between males and females in the workplace and introduce compulsory self-defence for children against predators.

INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN, AS CHOSEN BY CLAPTON STUDENTS:

Zendaya Coleman
Zendaya is a 19 year old American actress, singer, dancer and model with a strong social conscience. She is an active philanthropist and in 2015 was honoured at the Unite4: Humanity Awards for her philanthropic measures. She has also used her social media profile to speak out on issues relating to female body image and perceptions and criticisms of African-American hair.

Taraji P Henson
Taraji is an actress and producer, known for Person of Interest, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Empire. She’s an avid PETA supporter and in January 2011 appeared in their I'd Rather Be Naked than Wear Fur campaign.

Marsha P Johnson
Marsha was a transgender and gay rights activist and one of the first to fight back in the clashes with the police amid the Stonewall riots. In the early 1970s, she co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow activist Sylvia Rivera; together they were a visible presence at gay liberation marches and other radical political actions.

Solange Knowles
Solange is an American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist. Her most recent album A Seat at the Table, was described by one critic as a collision of artistry and activism, an expedition through the Black experience, and all that it entails. She regularly uses her platform to speak out against police brutality and cultural appropriation.

Amber Liu
Amber is an American rapper and singer currently active in South Korea. She is a member of the South Korean girl group f(x). She debuted as a solo artist in February 2015 with the release of her EP, Beautiful. Her debut solo single, "Borders", was released in March 2016. She participated in composing, lyrics writing and arrangement of the song. Written entirely in English, the hip hop track shares Amber's childhood experiences and gives a positive message not to give up on oneself against life difficulties.

Kirstin Maldonado
Kirstin is an American singer and member of Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix. Together with Pentatonix, Maldonado has released five studio albums and won two Grammy Awards.

Emma Watson
Emma is a British actress known playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series. In 2014 she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate gender equality.