fire / fight
by Drayla Kasheen

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In a space of shared conflict resolution, two sisters engage in shame, blame, love and hate as they recall a life-changing tragedy: a tragedy that highlights matters of life versus death, and how to banish despair in the wake of a terrible event and find hope amongst the ruins of the past. It’s a hyper-realist, visceral, subversive drama about trauma, grief, deception and betrayal, where two characters fight for the right to be heard. It is, finally, about saving and being saved.




As a mixed race/dual heritage creative – from a vibrant, culturally diverse socio-economic background – I’ve faced many challenges in terms of hardship, and I’m sure this has factored into what I write about: strong, femxle-centric narratives that involve overcoming the constraints of a life lived for a life dreamt; an emotional, personal journey for characters towards a brighter future, be that illusion or reality. Recent full-length and short plays include: Kroydon Ho, Yo Yo Yo (The Space), A Gap Tooth Brown Girl with Freckles and Blue Eyes (Omnibus Theatre), Splinter from the Fleshy Swirl (Questor’s Theatre), Shamza Kane (Pleasance Theatre), Melt (New Wimbledon Theatre, Old Red Lion, Tamasha, The Space), Kick the Breeze (Battersea Arts Centre), Descent (Brixton House). Screenplays include: Wronged (Subculture-Adamantine Films), P’out (Aletheia Films) and three short films, Melt, Wick, Twoscore (Spinster Films). I’ve written dozens of plays, screenplays, short plays and films, and am working on Float my Body Blood War and Escalator / Violator.




When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?

I first started writing plays whilst at drama school, then dropped it for many years, picking it up again whilst an undergraduate, then, finally, fully committed to playwriting during and after completing an MA in Playwriting (University of Birmingham, UK). The moment I realised I wanted to write was when, after fully immersing myself in my favourite plays and playwrights, all of whom were American ‘contemporary classics’ (O’Neill, Williams, Miller, Odets, Albee, et al), I realised that I, too, could produce words that bounce off the page with verve – a kinetic, connective push ‘n’ pull – where these past masters demonstrated what dialogue truly is, can be, should be. I think the single moment I realised I wanted to write was, if memory serves, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Maggie the Cat, Brick AND Big Daddy in one play in ‘real time’? Incredible. Powerful. Enduring. Beautiful. Truthful.


How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?

I came to write fire / fight as a gut-reactive response to a single event (as a stimulus): the Grenfell Tower tragedy back in 2017, which highlighted not only interrelated issues of neglect, poor planning, inadequate resources and the entire flora and fauna of socio-political incompetence and complacency, but also the sense of ‘have not’ human souls as expendable, disposable, unimportant and undervalued ‘things’; not beings so human, but things that could be sacrificed (in the name of complacency, incompetence, neglect). fire / fight is a micro off-shoot of this macro tragedy: where the play – which I am developing as a full-length piece – is, if you will, an antidote to ‘have not’ being and nothingness; the two very human sisters are eminently, viscerally ALIVE, AWAKE, AWARE, and the play is a fightback for the right to be seen, heard, felt, needed.


What are five words that describe who you are as a playwright?

Passion. Power. Push. Pull. Peace.


What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?

Everything I’ve seen, everything I’ve read. Major influencers: aforementioned American dramatists, particularly Williamas, Miller, Albee, and mentors from the past, including Willy Russell, Terry Johnson. Hyper-realist, sometimes Magic Realist, drama is also an influence – plays that, to quote Odets, “sing their theme,” which are many, eclectic and enduring.


What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?

I was a senior lecturer and course leader in Critical Theory at a university, specialising in post-colonialism, postmodernism, feminism, structuralism, post-structuralism, Marxism/materialism.


What are some of your favorite plays?

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Three Tall Women. Dutchman. Birdbath. Rocket to the Moon. Speed-the-Plow.

Othello. Macbeth. Twelfth Night. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Loot. Saved.


Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?

I’m working on Float My Body Blood War (a new play about migrants and ‘fear of the other’), and Escalator / Violator (about two ‘losers’ in an hotel who join forces to save a homeless person).

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