A sensational headline grabbing ‘abduction’ story is revealed in a new play, to be staged in Stornoway this month, as more of a love story.
And playwright Sudha Bhuchar is delighted that her play ‘My Name Is’ will be shown in the country where it all began.
Many readers may well remember the Molly Campbell ‘abduction’ story.
In 2006, 12-year-old Molly was assumed to have been abducted by her Pakistani father from her mother’s home in Scotland.
The newspapers reported the story as “Girl ‘snatched’ from school gates and taken to Pakistan for ‘forced’ marriage”.
A few days later, her father called a press conference in Lahore, where Molly was filmed saying that she hadn’t been kidnapped and her name was Misbah.
It created headlines across the world but it wasn’t until a year later that it came to Sudha’s attention.
She was reading an in-depth interview in The Guardian – ‘Why Molly Ran’ –and the idea took shape.
Sudha explained: “The saga appeared to die without the real story being aired.
“A relationship that blossomed in the 80s on the streets of Glasgow, between two young people without a religious bone in their bodies, disintegrated to the point where they were unable to agree on their daughter’s name.
“My interest was captured by the story behind the story, revealing two teenagers who simply fell in love and – with faith and courage – took on a life together involving compromise and conversion to try to gain acceptance.
“This deeply personal story, played out in the public arena, became a tale to serve wider agendas around Islam versus the West.”
Sudha’s critically acclaimed play is based on interviews with Molly and her family in Stornoway and Pakistan. From these, Sudha created an original verbatim play, revealing a cross-cultural love story.
She said: “I felt I owed it to them to tell the story properly so I went to Pakistan on holiday with my husband Asis – who is from Pakistan – and two sons, Samar (18) and Sinan (14).
“I spoke to Molly who was able to talk about it by then. She was a happy girl who was pretty well adjusted.
“I also spoke to Molly’s mum Louise in Stornoway.
“At first I thought I was writing a fictional piece but I found their words more moving than any others.”
So, using the family’s own words, My Name Is… unravels the complexities of their story.
In the play, the family’s names have been changed: 12-year-old Gaby is assumed to have been kidnapped by her Pakistani father Farhan.
To her mother Suzy’s distress, Gaby declares, “my name is Ghazala” and turns her back on ‘Gaby’ and seemingly, the West.
Sudha added: “It tells the tale of an innocent and lovely courtship and how Louise – a working class woman – took on Islam to ensure her family had an identity.
“At its core is a love story based first and foremost in Scotland, so I’m delighted that it’s coming home.”
Tamasha is Britain’s foremost touring theatre company.Founded by London-based actor and playwright Sudha Bhuchar and director Kristine Landon-Smith in 1989, it played a key role in driving Asian culture into the mainstream.
As part of its Scottish tour ‘My Name Is’ was staged at the Edinburgh Festival and will be performed at An Lanntair, Stornoway, on September 18 at 8pm.