The Crows Plucked Your Sinews by Hassan Mahamdallie
The Crows Plucked Your Sinews, a one-woman show written and directed by Hassan Mahamdallie, performed by multi-talented poet, writer and performer Yusra Warsama, with live music by Abdelkader Saadoun.
The Crows Plucked Your Sinews brings poetry, imagery and language to explore the themes of gender politics; our relationship with our history; war and violence; the First World War being played out in the Empire; religion and ‘extremism’. It is the first professional play combining contemporary and historical Somali life and culture to be developed and produced in England, bringing Yusra, the renowned Somali performing artist, to a wider audience, in a piece which was written specifically for her.
The date is May 2011: Suuban sits in the dark in a Woolwich council house watching the US assassination of Osama Bin Laden unfold on TV.
The date is August 1913: The British are at war in Africa. In the interior of British Somaliland, the hunt for the ‘Mad Mullah’ is on. A woman dervish warrior searches for the body of a British Tommy. Soon battle will be joined.
These two worlds will fuse and shake Suuban to her very core.
With live music from master Oud player Abdelkader Saadoun, and visual imagery by celebrated artist Rachel Gadsden, transformed into moving image by Polish film-maker Adam Radolinski, this is a unique exploration of the violence of Empire and the poetry of resistance.
Cast and creatives
Live music by Abdelkader Saadoun
Writer and Director Hassan Mahamdallie
Dervish in association with The Albany and Contact Theatre present The Crows Plucked Your Sinews
27-29 January, Contact, Manchester
2 – 5 February, The Albany, London
9-11 February, Birmingham Rep
22-24 February, The Curve, Leicester
3 March, Redbridge Drama Centre, London
Hassan Mahamdallie talks about the play
Radio Interview with Hassan Mahamdallie
“Hassan Mahamdallie has written a fine, important play about the way Britain’s foreign adventures are shaping one young London woman’s identity. It also shows us why an approach like the government’s Prevent policy will not work and might generate the very thing it fears.
Britain needs to remember its past more clearly. Coming to see this moving, well performed show would be a useful part in that process.”
“[Yusra] Warsama’s performance is moving on all accounts. By a simple change of accent and a single scarf used as a prop to flit between the modern lady and the fierce Muslim fighter, the story is incredibly easy to follow and with Warsama’s beautiful performance, we are presented with the question of how Somalia has shaped Britain in the past and its contribution to British culture today.
The show is a wonderful indication of what Britain is today, made up of many cultures, pasts and people. Its strong feminist connotations are inspiring to audiences of every walk of life. Mahamdallie cuts away every stereotype of Somalian culture and shares his vast and extensive knowledge for us to be inspired, changed and challenged.”
“History told, and retold through digital art and the spoken word – is this the future of British Theatre? I hope so.”
“This is a brave, visceral and honest proclamation of modern integration in the face of bloody history, hostility and clashes of faith. It is an important piece of theatre that needs to be seen by a wider audience; that will leave you moved and searching for difficult answers. It’s a unique piece of art that does not come around very often… This is transformational theatre, and important writing. A novel needs to written from this, or a film.”
“The Crows Plucked Your Sinews is not going to appeal to everyone. The dervish warriors gloating over the bodies of the British soldiers may be historically accurate, but it is still hard to take. Yet this is a thought provoking and superbly performed play that deserves to be seen by a wide audience.”
“The Crows Plucked doesn’t ask us to sit back and reflect and have a good think about how awful things can be for other people. It forces the mirror onto us. And makes us see the gap between us and it.”
“It’s a neat piece too, carried by a tremendous performance by Yursa Warsama – for whom it was written – who portrays both the young British-Somali woman, caring for her dying grandmother in Woolwich, and her fearsome great-grandmother, a proud Dervish warrior who fought the British. The sense of place – whether the deserts of Somalia, or a London living room filled with khat-chewing ex-pats – is always nicely evoked, thanks to Mahamdallie’s subtly lyrical script, in which English and Somali freely slip and slide over each other.”