Inspiring Scotland Bursary 2016: Annie George

Discovering a New Voice: Saltire Bursary 2016

Annie began writing ten years ago, in response to the lack of writers, and roles for actors, from minority ethnic backgrounds in the Scottish theatre sector, in which she had worked for many years.

Her solo play The Bridge, described as “an elegiac multi-media tone-poem” by The Herald, and “a finely wrought piece” by All Edinburgh Theatre, was commissioned for Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme and toured in Scotland. Her other plays have also been performed in Manchester, London, at the Festival of Politics, and the Edinburgh Fringe.

While writing mainly for theatre, more recently Annie has been exploring other forms, such as spoken word and poetry, writing and producing the short film poem At Rana Plaza. She also wrote and directed the short film Hope which was screened at the Cameo.

Her work often touches on themes around identity, belonging and displacement.

Annie was born in Kerala in India, grew up in London, and is based in Edinburgh. She is also a theatre director, dramaturg, performer and award-winning filmmaker.

 

Writing sample

But still, I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned.
I couldn’t quite walk away, thinking maybe I hadn’t tried everything.
One last shot, in the last chance saloon.
Maybe what we needed was to do something together.
Counselling was out of the question.
He wouldn’t entertain it.
 
“I don’t want some jumped up, twenty year old, straight off a Higher National Diploma in Tea and Sympathy, telling me to ‘embrace my inner child,’” he said.
“I’d wrap my inner child round his spotty, unwashed neck,” he said.
 
I had to be more inventive. Laughter therapy I thought.
So I booked us on a clowning and comedy weekend.
It was no joke.
 
Our warm up each day, was half an hour of laughing until it hurt.
Which is hard to do when you’re hurting so much you can’t laugh.
We struggled on through each session.
 
And then half way through the weekend, he slapped me!
No, he REALLY slapped me.
OK, it was with a rubber fish, but it hurt me.
It wasn’t the sting of the latex on my face and the way that it raised my skin afterwards.
I didn’t feel THAT.
It was the look in his eyes.
The way his nostrils flared and the way he gritted his teeth,
and put his whole heart and Dover sole into bustin’ the painted smile off my face.
He said it was an accident, he was trying something new.
 
“Try something less painful”, I said.
 
His grin matched mine. They were both painted on.
Grotesques. Soul mates, indeed.
Locked into a slapstick routine that was hellbound.
Clowning around.
He was a clown. I had become his clown.
It wasn’t very therapeutic.
I resumed packing a getaway suitcase, which I kept stashed under our bed.
 

Annie Says:

"When you share your writing and people like it, it’s already a reward for the time and thought, and (sometimes even) pain spent in creating it. So to be given an award for it is beyond thrilling, and will drive me to keep using my voice, to tell my stories!"

 

From the Judging Panel, Chitra Ramaswamy, journalist and author, says:

"It was a great privilege to be on the judging panel and I was impressed by the number and quality of the entries and the diverse range of voices representing communities all over Scotland. Congratulations to our selected awardee, Annie George, whose assured voice and flair for storytelling particularly impressed the panel, but also to the shortlist, and everyone who entered!”

 

Photo Credit: From The Bridge, credit to Lunaria