Caryl Churchill’s Skriker is a character that fascinates me. The many changing roles, curiously intertwining with other creatures and social situations which seem odd and yet strangely familiar cannot go unnoticed to a person who changes roles so frequently. She is also immensely funny. However, that is not the chief reason for deciding to bring this play to Kingston. Having been born in a city (Liverpool – strangely enough the same place as ‘Marie’) which had the highest teenage pregnancy rate for the whole of Europe, I was intrigued by Churchill’s treatment of the way in which young single mums who are struggling financially survive in the current socio-political system. The situation in the UK in the early 90s is not dissimilar to the one here today in Kingston.
To help us prepare for the production, we ran a workshop in the local ‘Foundations for the Future programme’, a school for young mothers, to help us understand our roles better and were disturbed but not surprised to find how very real some of the metaphors that Churchill has used are. The girls spoke of their fears of isolation, of having their babies taken away, of the harm that could befall them, of losing control and yet of the tenderness and delight of new life, of being needed. We could easily imagine ‘others’ in society as self satisfied creatures preying on them – trying to drag them down into an underworld of lost souls.
Despite this, the hope and sense of fun the girls shared with us was enormous and we have tried to capture some of this in our production with the increasingly Monty Python-esque manner in which Churchill’s Skriker tries to convince Lily to give up.
Performed at the Vogt Studio, Queens University, Kingston, Canada, April 2005