I took the first image from a bridge above the track; the girl in her immaculate school uniform – no uniform means no school – and the woman in traditional Sowetan dress crossing the railway line that divides their lives between the opportunities open to the few and the shackland that is Kliptown.The next two follow the girl as she makes her way alongsidethe track and thelifethat is enacted there every day. She then suddenly disappears from view. I saw her later in the day coming out of a shack, wearing a faded tracksuit and carrying the precious uniform on a hanger protected by a dry-cleaner’s plastic cover.
TRUE AND IMMORTAL SISTER was one of four plays showcasing the work of young emerging writers produced by ACTION TRANSPORT THEATRE. This is the story of the development of the play but also the story of the writer.
The play, written by seventeen-year-old Maisie Linford, tells the story of two young girls who have fled Afghanistan to a new life in England. The elder girl, having seemingly settled into a different culture, is joined by her young sister and the play charts their journey of love, hope and identity.
Maisie wrote the first draft and was mentored through subsequent drafts by director Nina Hajiyianni.
Already an accomplished actor from an early age with ATT, Maisie was confident in joining the young company of actors for the first read-through.
The writer’s youngest sister, twelve-year-old Stephanie was cast in the role of Afsana and Jasmin Parsons as her older sister, Erina. Jack, Erina’s boygfriend was played by Joel Andreson. Maisie and her sister, Lucy, acted in supporting roles, Mercedes and Megan. Rachel Allen doubled as Megan and Laura Walker played Lakita.
The play tells the story of the younger sister’s arrival and her attempts to ‘fit in.’ She wears the school uniform and tries to keep a low profile.
Her older sister has already abandoned her way of dress, found a job and acquired a non-Muslim boyfriend.
The younger girl decides to wear the hijab with the consequence that she is further bullied at school. Although very young, she knows who she is and is determined to stand up for her beliefs.
Her sister gradually realises that she, too, cannot deny her own true self.
‘Linford gives us a stunning debut play. Here we have a writer who shows real promise, with a thoughtful and un-patronising script that presents a real social awareness which is beautifully underscored with a sensitivity beyond her years.’