Fictionalising Fact: developing a play based on real stories

My Mind is Free imageMY MIND IS FREE is a play about human trafficking, currently in development by 17Percent founder, Sam Hall. It is planned to tour in October 2015. In this, the first of a short series of blogs, Sam writes about the writing experience of bringing the play to life. 

The first thing to note is that from first ideas, this play will have taken a while to get onto the stage. I was approached by a charity Merton Against Trafficking (MAT) early in 2014, when they asked me to write them something for an awareness-raising event they were holding in June that year.

After talking to the charity, and finding out some key stories about people they’d encountered, I decided to use two common trafficking experiences and create two monologues inspired by them, and those monologues were performed as part of the event. Prior to my research, I didn’t really know much about modern day slavery, but after my research I was outraged and wanted more people to know about human trafficking in the UK today. After talking to Jude Spooner, of Rah Rah Theatre Company, who had been in the audience for the charity event, we decided that we’d like to work together, she would produce a full-length version of the new trafficking stories I would write, and we would apply for Arts Council England funding to tour the show. After hours completing the application form, we were successful, so long as we raise a certain amount ourselves, which we are still working on (please see our fundraising page, if you can help with any amount, large or small).

As well as MAT, I spoke to two other charities dealing with human trafficking, ECPAT UK (a charity which deals with trafficked children), and Blythswood Care, to find out what were the issues that most concerned them. I also researched online and continue to do so, reading more and more stories about migrants drowning in the sea and the unhelpful to unhumanitarian response of the countries they are heading for. Although many of these migrants have initially paid smugglers to bring them over, many of them find themselves falling victim to traffickers along the way. These stories are heart breaking and there are enough for two plays – but I have focussed in on five characters who will tell their stories, or have their stories told for them, in a series of interlinked short plays.

But how to make a play that is entertaining, and moving, that also gives a lot of information, without seeming overly didactic? After identifying the stories and fictionalising them, that is the next challenge. The story will be continued in another post…

Follow the play on Twitter: @MindFreeThePlay
And on Facebook: MMIFThePlay

About 17Percent

A campaign to get more plays by women playwrights onto UK stages.
This entry was posted in 17percenters, Advice, Discussion, On writing, plays, Plays for today by women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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