It’s Almost A Completely Overlooked Industry

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Playwright Chlo Moss focuses a spotlight on the hazards faced by women working in the maritime sector with her compelling sea-bound thriller Corrina, Corrina as reported by The Guardian.

Sailors onboard

Playwright Chloë Moss grew up watching container ships passing by the windows of her house near the Seaforth docks in Liverpool.

When she was a child, her mother told her bedtime fairy stories about the men who went to sea, but any lingering sense of romance about the lives of the sailors working onboard was comprehensively stamped out during the four years of research she undertook before writing her new play, Corrina, Corrina.

“It’s such an invisible industry,” Moss says, speaking over Zoom during a break on day three of rehearsals in Liverpool. 

It’s kind of blindly ignored, which is very strange considering that something like 90% of everything you own has come in via a ship.

“There is no capitalism without the shipping industry – it’s huge.”

Exploited workers 

Her play centres on a young woman, Corrina, who arrives at Felixstowe docks to take up a job as a junior officer on a ship about to embark for Singapore.

“The ship in the play is a microcosm of society,” says Moss. 

“You’ve got the old white guy in charge, the captain, and then the badly exploited workers at the bottom of the pile.”

Corrina is trying to navigate her way through the complex power dynamics, determined to hold her own.

She toured a container ship; contacted the maritime trade union Nautilus International; attended female seafarers’ conferences; and interviewed lots of female cadets.

Taking responsibility

She was particularly startled by the number of abuse women endure during their work. 

While she was researching, Moss was very struck by the story of Akhona Geveza, a 19-year-old South African cadet who disappeared while she was working on a cargo ship in 2010.

So however he decides to deal with it is how it gets dealt with.

You’ve got flags of convenience, where shipowners register a ship to one country, usually one that lacks laws around working conditions and wage protection.

The big question is: who takes responsibility for any crime that happens?

Corrina’s story is not Geveza’s story, but there are common threads.

“You go into that space as a woman, you feel something in the air; it’s very palpable.”

In Moss’s account, Scylla has been made into a monster and banished to the bottom of the sea by a controlling suitor.

“After a few thousand years of this, she started to get angry, so she swam back up to the surface and went on a rampage, swallowing men on boats like there’s no tomorrow,” Corrina tells her fellow crew members, in explanation of her own rising fury.

Later, it comes full circle as she takes things into her own hands to get justice.

“It’s really about the character tapping into her own anger.”

Importance of work 

The play is beautifully written and occasionally unexpectedly funny, despite the creeping tension.

The role of the cargo ship is shown to be as fascinating as it is bizarre – slowly transporting shipments of random objects across the world, everything from containers carrying tens of thousands of plastic talking-and-singing dolls to yoga mats and smuggled guns.

The sailors argue about the importance or pointlessness of their work.

“The great thing about a ship is that they can’t go anywhere else.”

But the script has psychological tension, loneliness, power struggles, fear, violence and a constant threat of pirates, and it easily merits the description. 

“I’ve started describing it as a feminist thriller,” she says with a laugh.

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Source: The Guardian

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