By Ruby Kitching

Part of 37 Plays, a national playwriting project to create a series of 37 brand new plays that reflect the world we live in today.


Still Life (with mangos) is about British-Bangladeshi working mum, Joya, who is grieving the death of her father and no longer connects with the community she grew up in or her physical self (she wears many layers of clothing).

When she joins a ladies’ art class and mistakenly becomes its model, the experience is surprisingly enlightening. Being introduced to French artist Paul Gauguin’s paintings of brown women, together with the students’ portraits, make her feel empowered. Joya shares her new experiences with colleague, Shaheen, rather than her husband, Kiron, believing he wouldn’t understand. Kiron thinks she’s learning to paint a bowl of fruit.

Shaheen then secretly commissions art teacher, Alex, to paint a nude portrait of Joya. Joya hadn’t consented; Alex was going to use her imagination. Fearful of what will happen next, Joya seeks sanctuary in a public art gallery. There, she learns that Gauguin took advantage of many of his models in French Colonial Tahiti.

Shaheen, a predator, then sexually assaults Joya at work and Joya feels she is to blame. Frightened and betrayed, Joya decides she must take control of her life, which starts with reclaiming her newfound sense of self and asserting her faith in art. She sheds her layers – all her layers – in the final art class.

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Playwright age category: 18+


37 Plays Reader

"This is really special. The writer has something unique to say and they say it so well. I've not seen anything quite like this onstage before."

About the playwright

Ruby Kitching is a writer from London and Still Life (with mangos) is her first full-length play. She is passionate about bringing fresh perspectives on British and South Asian characters to stage. Other playwriting credits include the monologue, I never got your recipe, (Tamasha Theatre) and audio play, Baki (Tara Theatre, Britto Arts, British Council).

Born to Bangladeshi parents, Ruby is inspired by ordinary people and everyday life and draws on her skills as a journalist, editor, author, guitarist and songwriter. As a journalist, she was nominated for PPA new reporter of the year. She has written a book about the engineering design of skyscrapers called Stories behind the Storeys (Routledge) and the original music and lyrics for Living a dream (Poodle Records remix). Ruby holds a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering with Architecture from Sheffield University and previously worked as an engineer. She has a career spanning 25 years in the industry and is married with two children.

In partnership with Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall