Words by: Emily Schofield Cox
No Guts, No Heart, No Glory will make you laugh, cry, and feel bad about how little exercise you do. It will also leave you feeling empowered. The British show, visiting for PIAF, is a warm and immersive hour of truth and strength. It’s a triumph.
The show has been set up for Perth viewers in a hipster gym on Queen Street (aptly named the Queen Street Gym) with a boxing ring stage and an overly active dry ice machine – a strange combination. The crowd was a wide mix of school groups, the elderly and the hipster gym-goers who had mistakenly stumbled upon it. But it had something for everyone.
The show isn’t overly complicated, though it is thought provoking and nuanced in its simplicity. It centres around five British Muslim girls who — through a mix of boxing routines, beat poetry and monologues — tell us about their experiences of being Muslim and of being a young woman. They do this from the stage, and as they run, and from right next to you as they sit on the floor.
Some of the themes explored are universal — the fear of not knowing what to do with your life at 16, or at 23, or ever, and the struggle to find your own path without burning bridges as you grow and change. But some are much more personal to the actresses — their difficulty in living in a community that is so tightly-knit that it can appear as a single consciousness, and the judgement that accompanies being a young Muslim woman who wants to travel, to box, and to enjoy life.
No Guts, No Heart, No Glory gives a voice to a younger generation who are otherwise having themselves defined in stereotypes through the media. They discuss Islamaphobia and how it affects them in their everyday lives, the difficulty of becoming a wife with stereotypes attempting to confine them, and the truth about how they can be misunderstood so easily – from both their relatives and the wider population.
As the director of the production said, it is “a chance for them to represent themselves, to dance, to box, to swear, to get angry, to enjoy it, to be champions.” The actresses are truly brilliant, and complement each other, allowing their individual stories to weave together into a bigger collective picture.
If you can get your hands on a ticket, make sure you see this show while it is in Perth. You’ll be thinking about it for a long time after it is gone.