OPIA Collective create cross-arts shows with spoken word, live music and theatre. Their latest production, The Girl With Glitter In her Eye is a powerful story of a friendship complicated by the revelation of trauma.
Masha Kevinovna is a writer and director who created this show whilst doing National Youth Theatre. “The main intention was to create a piece for a group of women combining music, poetry and theatre,” she said. “As we were developing it, it was around the ‘me too’ movement around 2017/18. We started exploring the idea of consent and if something happens to you five years ago, how does that affect your life?”
After taking the show to Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Lyric Hammersmith, it fleshed out to be a story of two friends. “One is an artist and the other runs a coffee shop. Helen decides to use Phil’s story of rape in order to further her career, but in doing so she also silences Phil’s voice and her chance to express herself and talk about what happened to her,” she said.
Desperate to stand out amongst a sea of artists, pressured to exploit her own narrative, Helen compromises a close friendship when she finds inspiration in Phil’s story. Masha adds: “I wanted to look at consent in various different forms, but also consent in a bigger form such as political gentrification or taking away voice in communities.”
It’s a hard-hitting subject that certainly isn’t easy to tackle, but Masha invested in a huge amount of research in order to tell the story in the best possible way. “I was constantly researching what it means to have sexual trauma. Having interviews and conversations with women that had experienced that and really delving into that,” Masha said.
“During this, what I realised what that the play was actually about the removal of voice, I looked into my own life and tried to be as honest as possible because I feel like the best art is created through honesty. Also researching politically what is happening now. The situation is really current with the general election and how people in different communities and how their voice has been taken away.”
Masha is a young, innovative theatre maker and her approach to creating shows is refreshing. “We are working with a composer because the whole piece is musically scored. We have sections of live music and song interweaving throughout the scenes,” she explains.
“Hopefully it comes across as a fully fleshed 3D piece. So you’re not coming to see a kitchen sink drama, we tell the story in different ways, through movement, music and integrating that with the text – it’s really stylistic.”
Masha is passionate about cross-arts theatre because she feels it has the ability to connect with a wide range of people. “If you have a straight play that’s text heavy, some people might not connect with that. The story might be really good but people aren’t visually drawn, or someone might be more drawn in by music,” she said. “Some people are intimidated by the usual theatre. So coming to a play with music and a visual aspect to it means it becomes less intimidating. I really believe that music speaks more volumes than words ever will.”
With a bold attitude towards theatre-making, I asked Masha what advice she’d give to someone developing a new production. “Trust the validity of your voice,” she said. “There is only one person like you who can tell that story so it’s a matter of trusting in yourself. Think in terms of what you’re capable to do and small steps are good at first.”
The Girl With Glitter in Her Eye is a powerful new production and Masha really wants the audience to go on a journey with the show. “I’d love people to come out of it with the intention to listen more,” she explained.
“There are so many voices, so many different stories. I feel like a lot of problems and chaos stems from the fact people don’t listen to each other and don’t understand the other person’s perspective. I feel like if everyone listened to each other the world would be a little bit clearer.”
The Girl With Glitter In Her Eye is on at the Bunker Theatre until the 27th of January. Tickets and information can be found on their website.