Mama Quilla Productions—Arts for Change

Theatre, film, digital art installations, workshops and print

Artistic Director/Executive Producer: Kay Adshead

Powerful passionate committed piece of theatre that if seen widely enough may change hearts and minds. – The Guardian


This is political theatre at its best. – Scotland on Sunday


Political theatre is alive again.  – Evening Standard

Details of upcoming events

Acts Of DefianceActs of Defiance is a series of public interactions or interventions, theatre poems, or film essays, recording dignified and peaceful opposition to injustice and oppression.Mama Quilla will commission, curate, and publish on the web, a filmed portfolio of work. It is hoped the work will span commissioned short pieces, from individuals or community venues, activist organisations protesting, to candid guerrilla filming from citizens witnessing small acts of justices (and big acts if witnessed). Short, site-specific pieces, commissioned, rehearsed and performed in/on community spaces, will be filmed.

It is anticipated contributions will range from experienced artists to emerging artists, to passionate individuals or groups, (who have never created film / live performance before).

Completed short film projects include Escape, written and directed By Ann Akin, filmed by Sarah Auber and Simon McCabe,  Long May He Run, a film by Jeff Singleton, and Acts of Rebellion a film by Cafe Butoh.

Acts of Defiance, the theatre production, involved over 40 young Artists.Open contributions are more than welcome, but not all submissions may be guaranteed inclusion in the online portfolio.for the Face to Face festivalIn July 2014, Happy Ending and Three Lotus Flowers, as part of our Acts of Defiance project written and directed by Kay Adshead and performed by Jody Jameson and Eugenia Low  were performed in the Face to Face festival.

Distinguished veteran actress and Equity campaigner Pauline Moran's reviews:

Jody Jameson gave a finely-tuned performance in ‘Happy Ending’ – a brilliantly original take on the myth of Leda and the Swan – only Kay Adshead could marry this fable to an Essex hen party with seamless aplomb.”


“The one baby law in China has for the most part been forgotten in the West.  Three Lotus Flowers is a timely reminder of the abuse women have suffered under this barbaric law ... Eugenia Low was riveting as the hapless victim of state abuse ...  Kay Adshead’s writing never sinks into melodrama but causes the audience to leave with a knot in its stomach.”

Eugenia Low will perform Three Lotus Flowers  on 9 October 2014 at the Lost Theatre as part of the Face-to-Face festival's Voices from the Edge.

Happy Ending is in development and will be performed in 2014/2015.


Image from The Singing Stones graphic novel illustrated by RAFVeilVeil is an immersive installation that becomes a performance space for spoken word, created in response to the stories of Muslim women. While protecting their identities, it will reveal the depths and subtleties very often hidden from mainstream/non-Muslim view. It doesn’t just feature the niqab, but a range of Muslim women’s voices. Step into the voices and stories of these women, walk in their shoes and live their lives.

Veil is an inter-generational, national piece of work, a collaboration between art forms, artists, experiences and stories.

 The installation will be open throughout the day with three live performances:

  • Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, 
    1 November 2014, 11 am to 9 pm, with live performances at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7.30 pm
  •  Z-Arts, Manchester, 8 November 2014, 11 am to 9 pm, with live performances at 12 pm, 3 pm and 6 pm

Tickets: Free and open to all

Each event will also include a free workshop, see venue websites for details.

Created by Shanaz Gulzar and Kully Thiarai, written words by Kay Adshead, performed by Eugenia Low, Rhiannon James, and Llila Vis.

“A poetic mortar bomb”. — The Times on Kay Adshead’s writing for Thatcherwrite 2013

The niqab debate: “Is the veil the biggest issue we face in the UK?”

“...the Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston ... compared the niqab to an ‘invisibility cloak’ and said women should be clear that the burqa is a symbol not of liberation but of repression and segregation’... What has been missing from many of these arguments is the voice of Muslim women.”—Kira Cochrane, The Guardian 16th September 2013

“I am a mixed race Yorkshire woman who has chosen to wear hijab as part of my identity as a Muslim. I love music, fashion and fast food, but you wouldn’t know unless you asked me!” —Zanib Thackary, a Veil participant

'Adshead makes you want to take to the streets while you still can.” – Financial Times on Animal

Supported by Arts Council England and Bradford LA

Follow Shanaz Gulzar on Twitter:

Follow Kully Thiarai on Twitter:

Follow Eugenia Low on Twitter:

Follow Llila Vis on Twitter:

The Working Girls Project

Initiated with the Soho Project in 2009, this is an ongoing collaboration with the English Collective of Prostitutes and La Compagnie Yoricke. The Last Little Girl, directed by Michael Batz and performed by Anne Akin, is in development.

The Singing StonesIn February 2015 at the Arcola Theatre, Hackney, Mama Quilla will produce The Singing Stones, a triad of plays:

  • Stones
  • The Women's Spring
  • The Singing Stones

 The three plays will explore women's role in the Arab revolutions and have been developed from workshop performances at the Roundhouse in 2012.

The Women’s Spring, performed as part of the event, written in verse and set in an imaginary court of redress, and telling the harrowing stories of Arab female protesters, was created for a multi-ethnic and multi-generational cast made up of both established and emerging performers.

A companion piece, The Singing Stones, a revolutionary folktale inspired by ancient Middle Eastern literature and celebrating heroic acts of defiance, was written in two days, for Sarah Niles to perform and Kully Thiarai to develop and direct. It was apparent after the day-long event that these pieces had potential for development, and it helped that we all felt passionate about the subject. Research, which the company had undertaken together, had revealed the treatment of the female protesters in the Arab Spring to be barbaric. They were subjected to virginity testing, to humiliate and demean them, imprisonment and torture; many were brutally raped and killed.

It became clear that the stories were not just for Arab women, but for women everywhere. We feel a strong responsibility to let the world know what is happening not so very far away, in women’s lives in 2013. And of course the stories we share are also the stories of the women’s brothers, sons and fathers, and of the little children, because they are the stories of sisters identifying the mutilated bodies of tortured brothers and, recently, mothers burying children poisoned by chemical attack.To develop the pieces into a complete evening of meaningful performance, we felt we needed to add a prologue. Stones is being developed with Lebanese actress activist Alia Alzougbi and we are very excited to be collaborating with Masasit Mati, a group of dissident Syrian artists.

Kindly supported by the Arts Council England, Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, Unity Theatre Trust, Peggy Ramsey Foundation and every single person who came to our fundraiser event Music Speaks! or who contributed to our Zequs fundraising campaign.

© Mama Quilla Productions 2009. All rights reserved.