I didn’t come over to hurt people, but to help. I don’t have some evil plan, I’m not that smart. I couldn’t have even found Iraq on a map before I joined the Army!
Fresh from a sell-out run at this year’s VAULT Festival, where it was awarded a Highly Commended accolade, Wound Up Theatre bring their hilarious play Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy to Pleasance London to launch the theatre’s brand new 80-seat Downstairs. This comical, heart-breaking and compassionate play contributes to the vital discussion around the experiences of disenfranchised young people in modern Britain.
From 2012-2016, 800 Britons travelled to Syria to fight for or support ISIS and a further 600 caught trying to enter; this thought-provoking production explores feelings of vulnerability, otherness, alienation and expert grooming techniques that remain so relevant today. A report published by the United Nations in 2014 disclosed that youth are “particularly vulnerable to economic shocks, social instability, and conflicts” and in this post 9/11, digitally-savvy world, radicalisation is a hugely complex phenomenon, now more so than ever.
Dean joined the Army, Danny joined the Islamic State. One’s from Leeds, the other from London. Brought together in a basement in Northern Iraq, they reminisce about their torment working in Wetherspoon, share disgust over an airport meal deal costing £4.89, and circle around an awful truth – that both of them just want to go home.
Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy has been developed using in-depth research on contemporary academic views on terrorism. Having premiered at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, this powerful play tells of the encounter between a young British prisoner of war from the North and a London born young British Muslim boy who has defected to join the Islamic States.
This newly revised 2018 production, directed by Jonny Kelly (The Passing of the Third Floor Back, Finborough Theatre; Hyem, Theatre 503) sees award-winning writer and performer Matthew Greenhough (#Vile: The Untimely Demise of a Manufactured Pop Star, Edinburgh Fringe 2017; Delusions of Adequacy) star alongside Elliot Liburd (Fourth Monkey’s 3 Winters, Julius Caesar and The White Devil).
Matthew Greenhough comments, Bismillah! celebrates and explores some of the wonderful universalities of the human experience, which is a timeless message. However, in a time of rising tensions and extremism, both religious and political, we believe the ideas explored in the play are now more vital than ever. Over the last three years the production has been born of the tireless efforts of amazing friends and creatives who have developed the work, taking it from a DIY fifty- five minute fringe show which stormed Edinburgh, to a full length professional production now launching a brand new off-west space at London's esteemed Pleasance Theatre. We're incredibly proud of what the show has already achieved and we could not be more excited for Bismillah!'s future at The Pleasance and beyond.
It’s a wonderfully sympathetic piece of writing, brimming with insight, humour and humanity. Jonny Kelly’s gritty staging…boasts two hugely entertaining performances from Greenhough and Liburd. (★★★★ Fergus Morgan, The Stage)
Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy was initially developed by Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Company and since its Edinburgh debut in 2015, it has been developed from London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East.
This production has been endorsed by Dr. Sarah Illot, Dr. Anshuman A. Mondal, Dr. Fahid Qurashi as well as Nihal Arthanayake of the BBC Asian Network and Active Change Foundation.
Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF
How to get there The nearest tube station is Caledonian Road (on the Piccadilly Line). Turn left out the station and then take the first left up North Road. The theatre is then 100m up on your left. The closest rail station is Caledonian Road and Barnsbury.
Running Time 75 minutes
Box Office Tickets are available from Pleasance Theatre Box Office on 020 7609 1800 or online at https://www.pleasance.co.uk/. Tickets are priced from £15 (£13 concession)
Twitter @ThePleasance, @wounduptheatre
Writer and Performer Matthew Greenhough
Director Jonny Kelly
Assistant Director Rob Ellis
Producer Sofi Berenger
Cast member Elliot Liburd
Sound Designer Gareth McLeod
Designer Libby Todd
Stage Manager Beth Pratt
Fight Coordinator Kieran E Sims
Pleasance Theatre Trust
As a registered charity in Scotland, England and Wales, the Pleasance Theatre Trust aims to create a compelling platform to discover, nurture and support fresh artistic talent from across the globe. As a not for profit organisation, all proceeds from the Festival and our London base are invested back into the development of new people and new ideas. The Pleasance Theatre Islington has been one of the most exciting Fringe theatres in London since it opened its doors in 1995, providing a launch pad for some of the most memorable productions and renowned practitioners over the past two decades, staying true to the Trust’s mission of providing a platform for the talent of the future. This year-round programme compliments our world-renowned operations in Edinburgh. Since opening in 1985, the Pleasance has become renowned for delivering an inspiring programme year on year that uniquely embodies the spirit of the Festival Fringe. In 2017, the Pleasance presented a programme of 260 shows, with over a third of companies and performers making their debut at the Fringe and over 150 premieres.
Wound Up Theatre
Wound Up Theatre are a platform for socially and politically aware comedic theatre; facilitating discussion, challenging ideas and providing new perspectives on issues affecting youth in the UK. The company was founded in 2013 by Matthew Greenhough, who had previously enjoyed international success as a theatre maker winning the Main Prize at Dioniz International Theatre Festival in Croatia with the piece: In Our Hands.
Wound Up’s first production was Delusions Of Adequacy which followed a young northern man struggling on benefits. Developed at Northumbria University, it was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 and enjoyed a sell-out run on the PBH Free Fringe. Their second production was 2015's production original staging of Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy and following its success, Wound Up were invited to lecture at Mock the Weak - Comedy and the Politics of Representation, an academic conference at Teeside University in September 2016. In 2017, Wound Up returned to the Edinburgh Fringe with #VILE: The Untimely Demise of a Manufactured Pop Star, a one-man show which explored the psychological impact of contemporary media. It chronicled the social media-induced breakdown of a D-list celebrity and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from audiences.