Malala play challenges hidden prejudices

A play written by a former head of drama at Ollerton’s Dukeries Community College is coming to the stage at Mansfield’s Create Theatre.

One-man play ‘A Girl With a Book’ is written and performed by Nick Wood and is based on the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Afghan schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking in favour of girls having the right to an education.

It is told from a writer’s perspective, and shows how the writer is forced to come out from behind his desk and go into the community as he searches for answers to help him tell the tale of a brave young woman’s fight for girls’ education.

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His research uncovers the fact that he holds attitudes at odds with his liberal convictions and he has to deal with what it reveals about himself.

Said Nick, who left teaching to become a full-time writer: “I never thought I’d return to acting, let alone in a one man show, but it’s happened.

“It’s very scary, but also great fun.”

A Girl With a Book draws on Nick’s experiences after he decided to write a play about the shooting of Malala and what he subsequently discovered about himself - the prejudices that he realised he holds as he made more contact with the Muslim community and religious people.

“I was writing about how art can comment on real events, how the writer has to find objectivity when little exists in the writer’s mind,” he said.

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“I realised that I was guilty of seeing people as members of a group and not as individuals, and no matter how much I might protest to the contrary and hold up my liberal principles as proof of my lack of prejudice, my opinions on a set of beliefs I didn’t share was becoming an almost insuperable barrier to my willingness to try and understand.”

It was Malala’s strong beliefs in education that touched the former teacher and inspired him to write his play.

He said: “I wrote A Girl With A Book because I’d been a teacher, because I’d never heard a child speak so passionately about the need for education, because amongst the whole global catalogue of appalling acts I’d never heard of anyone shooting three children for wanting to go to school.

“When I nearly packed it in I carried on because I wanted to work through all the attitudes and prejudices it stirred up within me that I was so anxious to deny.”

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Create Theatre co-ordinator Adam Pownall described the play as ‘hard-hitting’ and ‘emotive’. He said: “It’s always a pleasure to introduce our theatre-goers to great new works.”

A Girl With a Book comes to Create Theatre on Thursday 27th February at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available via or on Mansfield 413363.

The play is directed by Andrew Breakwell.