Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted to Sonya Hale about Bullet Tongue, playing at The Big House from the 14th November until the 8th December.
Hi Sonya, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain a bit more about the story at the heart of Bullet Tongue? It is a story about a young girl’s struggle to find her voice and identity in the street gang world of London. The story centres around Bumper who is involved in County Lines drug dealing. She feels she has something to prove in order to fit in and belong because she has no real family at home to rely she feels she has to create her own family in gang life. It’s a story that aims to get to the truth of what that life is like for young people involved in gangs. Often they are portrayed as ruthless evil killers but we wanted to get at the truth and heart of what young people’s lives are actually like.
How did the idea for the play come about? My own experiences. I am seven years in recovery from crack and heroin addiction which took me to prison and a whole lot of other very dark places. I felt like I really struggled to find my identity and voice as a woman in amongst all that so I guess it is based on my own experiences.
How was it working with Andrew Day on writing Bullet Tongue? He is incredible! His knowledge and insight into how to write plays is amazing. He has like a laser beam eye to structure and scene construction, he can see instantly how to make things much more dramatic and exciting. I learned a lot, he is very nurturing and encouraging.
What did you particularly want to bring out and explore in the play? I wanted to explore the truth about what these young people’s lives are actually like to challenge the view that all young people who wear hoodies and congregate about town are hooligans and to be avoided. I however, didn’t want to pander to the view that these young people are victims either. Instead I wanted to write a play which walks an often controversial fine line between ruthless killer and pitiful victim to find the truth which in my experience is usually that these young people are often incredible strong, resourceful, funny, creative intelligent, loving, sometimes painfully lost souls just trying to survive in a harsh world.
How difficult was it to create a play that explores the issues you raise properly?Very! It was very hard not to slip into stereotypes! And also because the whole issue of County Lines drug dealing is so current it’s a very emotive subject and it was really important to stay up to date with reports and events.
How are you feeling about having the play performed for the very first time?Nervous and very excited. Maggie is an incredible director and has a really exciting creative team involved in the production. I can’t wait!
What can audiences expect from Bullet Tongue? A wild, exciting, stomping, multi-media, extravaganza. A promenade through the life of a girl involved in a gang. There’s drill music, guns and possibly even a bit of nudity and laughter and loves. I hope you enjoy it!
By Emma Clarendon
Bullet Tongue will play at The Big House from the 14th November until the 8th December. To book tickets visit: https://billetto.co.uk/e/bullet-tongue-nov-20-19-30-tickets-311096