The £50,000 award was made to the best new play script commissioned by any British theatre or company in that year.
Janet has this astonishing ability to write about painful subjects with great depth and intensity, but also with this wonderful, blistering, knife-edge black humour… a real roller-coaster ride, full of tension and drama…
Gerda Stevenson, director
Stellar Quines Theatre Company at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and on tour 13 March - 26 April 1997.
Director: Gerda Stevenson.
Cast: Anne Downie - Carolyn Konrad - Libby McArthur - Bridget McCann - Rosaleen Pelan - Jonathan Strange.
…bracingly exciting to see such a classically constructed premiere on a Scottish stage… John Carnegie
Refuge weaves together the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Five women and a teenage boy thrown together by circumstance: a hotbed of tension that explodes in humour, conflict, laughter and rage.
Refuge is powerfully moving, disturbing and, at times, achingly funny. It's a story of immense courage - about what happens when refuge is not a place, but a way of life.
Winner of the prestigious 1996 Peggy Ramsay Award, Janet Paisley's play Refuge shatters preconceived notions about violence against women, balancing emotional directness with an earthy and anarchic humour.
You assume it takes a foreigner like Ariel Dorfman… to show us the horrors of torture. It’s abhorrent and vexing, but we can rest easy because it’s always somewhere else. Only it isn’t. Janet Paisley’s Refuge tells us with plain-talking candour that torture is our problem, in our society, now… The Herald - Mark Fisher
You don't win this award for nothing. The characterisations are too rich to be written as types, the dialogue too salty and downright funny at times to be dismissed as formula… The Guardian
Paisley has the power to take us right to the heart of another human being's experience in the space of a couple of hours in the theatre… the mark of a true playwright… Scotsman - Joyce McMillan
<box 80% round prose| Extract: Refuge> CAROLANNE: Can't you do that in the kitchen.
SADIE: Yip. In the kitchen. In the lobby. In the bedroom. In the bathroom. Even under the stairs if the mood takes me. That's the beauty of ironing, see. Portable.
CAROLANNE: Why don't you then?
CAROLANNE: You're deliberately being obtuse.
SADIE: No me. Nope. Obtuse? Widnae know the meanin of the word, faur less the practise.
CAROLANNE: Ironing should be done in the proper room. And since we don't have a laundry room, the proper room is the kitchen not the sitting room.
SADIE: You've been it that book again. Chapter nine, a place fur awthing. Caw it the bedroom an go tae bed in it. Caw it the dining room an dine in it. Caw it the kitchen an - well, this isnae the sitting room. It's the livingroom. Live and let live, right? See that supposed tae book, dis yer heid in.
(SADIE SWITCHES ON THE TV, CAROLANNE STUBS HER CIGARETTE OUT AND GATHERS HER CLEANING THINGS)
CAROLANNE: And soap operas don't? I'm making coffee. Anybody want some?
SADIE: You're a sweetie.
AGNES: Tea fur me, seein ye're oan yer feet. Coffee'd just gie me the jitters.
(BOTH SADIE AND CAROLANNE GLANCE AT AGNES, THEN AT EACH OTHER. CAROLANNE EXITS TO KITCHEN)
AGNES: She goes fur an abortion, you ken. An then he gets aw lovey-dovey wi hur again but she gies him the cauld shoudder cause ae whit she's been through. An then she starts seein Greg again cause he disnae haud Kevin against hur.
(SADIE HAS MOVED TO LOOK OUT THE WINDOW)
SADIE: Pay weel, dae they?
SADIE: TV. (LOOKS AT AGNES) Scriptwritin.
AGNES: Read it in ma magazine. She's been a while.
(SADIE GOES BACK TO TURN OFF TV)
SADIE: Too long just tae pick somebody up.
AGNES: Things kin happen.
SADIE: No tae Maggie?
AGNES: No. Shoppin. Sortin claes. Likely she'll have stopped by the office.
SADIE: (BACK IRONING) Well, Gordon'll be in fae school furst, it this rate.
AGNES: You shouldnae wind Carolanne up like that.
SADIE: She shouldnae crank up sae readily.
AGNES: (STRETCHES, RUBS HER SIDE TO EASE PAIN IN HER RIBS) Still an all. Same boat, ye ken.
SADIE: Different bloody river, but. (BANGING WITH THE IRON) Aye, aye, I know. Still an all.(PAUSE) You aw right?
AGNES: Just ma lumbago playin me up.
SADIE: Athritis. Ye should say athritis. Naebody says lumbago these days.
AGNES: Ah like lumbago. (SLOWLY) Lumbago. Soonds better. Like dirty dancin.
SADIE: Lambada. (DANCING WITH THE SWEATSHIRT SHE'S IRONING) Dirty dancin. The Lambada. Oh, hey, I could get intae this. Give us a smoochie wan, handsome. (MOCK KISSING)
(CAROLANNE ENTERS WITH 3 MUGS ON A TRAY, STOPS, IRRITATED BY SADIE'S NONSENSE. SADIE GRINS AT HER)
CAROLANNE: Could you go suck your washing somewhere else?
SADIE: (TO SWEATSHIRT) Hey, pal, you got an ugly friend for ma ugly friend?
CAROLANNE: As long as he's not legless like yours. (HANDS OUT TEA MUGS)
SADIE: Legless? (CHECKS SWEATSHIRT TO SEE) Ach well, so much fur the lambada.
AGNES: (TO CAROLANNE) You wur quick.
CAROLANNE: The kettle never gets a chance to cool down.
SADIE: Didnae take time tae put a cloth oan that tray, but.
CAROLANNE: (FREEZES, TERRIFIED) Oh.
SADIE: Joke. Joke. Look, I was - okay, bad taste. But a tray, fur god's - fur three mugs? (BANGS THE IRON DOWN) Jees, I didnae mean it, right? Och, hell. (LIGHTS A CIGARETTE)
(CAROLANNE IMMEDIATELY EMPTIES THE ASHTRAY)
SADIE: Wid you please no dae that? Everytime I light up.
CAROLANNE: You'll need an ashtray.
SADIE: I kin yaise a dirty ashtray. What's the difference? Ash, mair ash. It's aw fag ash. Let it alane till it's full, kin ye no?
CAROLANNE: (PUTS ASHTRAY BESIDE SADIE) It won't hurt you to use a clean ashtray.
SADIE: Naebody's coontin the fag ends.
CAROLANNE: It's just habit.
SADIE: My eye. Like yer supposed tae book?
AGNES: Hard to gie up, habits.
(SADIE TIPS ASH FROM BIN BACK INTO ASHTRAY)
SADIE: Trainin, that's aw it takes. Trainin an will power. Whit dae you think, Agnes? Am I no right?
AGNES: Weel, ah never kent dirt get annoyed, however much ye ignore it.
SADIE: See. One fag end already in ashtray. Noo watch this. (WITH CEREMONY, TAPS ASH INTO ASHTRAY) Nae lightenin (LOOKS). Nae thunder (LISTENS). Noo I'll just ignore it and (RESTS CIGARETTE IN ASHTRAY) get oan wi the ironin.
CAROLANNE: Why are you doing that?
SADIE: It gets the wrinkles oot the clothes.
(SADIE BANGS AWAY, IRONING. THEY ARE ALL UNCOMFORTABLE, ESPECIALLY CAROLANNE)
SADIE: Och, go oan. (PICKS HER CIGARETTE UP)
(CAROLANNE TAKES THE ASHTRAY, EMPTIES IT, REPLACES IT)
SADIE: Feel better?
CAROLANNE: (GOING BACK TO HER COFFEE) Makes no difference to me. </box>