Writing a play about language when you are recovering from a brain tumour that has affected your own relationship with language is no easy task, but it’s one that Rabiah Hussain has taken on in Word-Play, postponed last year but now getting heard. It begins with an emergency meeting in the Downing Street press office because the PM has let his words run away with him on live TV, and now a damage limitation exercise is in order. But can it be contained? Because words are always loaded as much as any gun. Hussain explores how language and power are manipulated by those who rule and the far-reaching consequences as their games with language seep into the world.
In the Downing Street Press Office an emergency meeting has been called. The Prime Minister has been ad-libbing on live tv (again) and his words are going viral. There is a flurry of accusations, and demands for an apology; but as the team debate what to do next, it’s already too late. His words have found their way to dinner parties, bus journeys and newspaper columns across the nation – and not everyone is angry. Rabiah Hussain’s new play, directed by Nimmo Ismail, explores how language seeps into public consciousness and reverberates with far reaching consequences that will last for generations. “History always ripples on. Even if we don’t realise it.” Word-Play was developed whilst Rabiah Hussain was on attachment as part of the Royal Court Theatre and Kudos Writing Fellowship in 2019.