After watching the culturally aware and heartfelt play Spun I was able to interview the writer Rabiah Hussain:
Firstly, I asked her about the most difficult things in the production of her play.
She began to explain how one of the special and difficult parts of the play was having only two actresses perform.
It was hard to capture perspective or establish what’s going on with only two people on stage but ultimately having only the two actresses allowed for their two different viewpoints to be focused on in a heartfelt and conscience way.
The play was performed in the first person by both of them which expands into the idea that everyone on Earth experiences life in the first person.
In my opinion, the format was a constant subliminal reminder to the audience that you should walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
We talked about how the play put an experience around the 7/7 bombings and how it was useful to have the characters be just two average girls going about their lives.
There was no extremism, radicalisation, or terrorism in their lives; they were just like you and I trying to make it but they had the added challenge of being Pakistani and women in the midst of terrorist attacks and stereotypes.
The play was so interesting because it’s hard for a person outside looking in to realise what emotions are happening when people who look like you do something terrible and make life hard.
The play kept me impressed the whole way through and that was attributed to Rabiah’s excellent writing. I asked her how she wrote the play.
“The first time was written without planning.” She said.
“So, it was organic and just inspiration?” I asked.
“Yes, but it was a beast to go back over and revise.” She explained to me how next time she is going to plan before writing so as to not deal with the hassle of suddenly having to organise mounds of inspired writing into coherent thoughts.
I was still curious as to how it metamorphosed from a written script into a powerful play.
“I wrote the first draft in about a month but then I dropped it.” Rabiah said. “I didn’t think I was going to do anything with it and then about 5 months later I sent it in and the director said let’s go.”
It was extremely good writing and worthy of a play but I don’t think she realised it right away as many of us do with our own passions.
Rabiah has the skill and the product but she was unsure of her own ability when it came to pursuing her first play. This is a vital lesson for me and others to trust in themselves and shoot the shot.
Going into the play, unknowingly, I interpreted the headscarf as a sign of female oppression on behalf of Islam. This play showed how much more it can mean to every person that wears it.
The scarf was more than just a stereotypical identity it could be a political statement or a sentiment of love and family. Basically, Rabiah and I agreed that “the scarf means something different to everyone who wears it.”
I asked Rabiah what she was trying to convey for the theme of the play.
Two main topics for the audience to absorb were the complexity of the scarf and the differences of class in London.
As a white man, the play was a learning experience for me to peer into a culture that I am not often exposed to at my home. It confronted “White Confidence” how a white person can say something accidentally racist like “where are you really from?”
The play established in me a newfound respect and insight for the headscarf.
It is courageous in knowing that when a person wears it they know they will feel out of place in many situations but they continue to wear it because of the hidden meaning only they have and confidence in their own identity.
My interview with Rabiah was fun and educational just like her play. I learned a lot because everyone involved with the play was telling a story in the most intimate way they could. Even in her interview she was intimate and made me feel like an old friend.
Her empathy is true and should be replicated in future plays and life itself.