• Sunday, June 23, 2024


Anisa Butt: Portraying a role that resonates with reality

Anisa Butt

By: Asjad Nazir

ANISA BUTT has shown off her impressive range as a performer across theatre, film, TV and spoken word.

The versatile actress is looking forward to taking on the lead role in new theatre play Permission, which premieres at The Space Theatre in London next Tuesday (28). The feminist story of a Pakistani immigrant woman newly arrived in London and trying to navigate contrasting cultural worlds looks at what freedom really means.

Eastern Eye caught up with the cool creative to talk about her acting journey, timely new play and inspirations.

How do you reflect on your acting journey?

With a lot of gratitude but an eyes forward approach. I want to keep improving and challenging myself.

It’s always a rollercoaster in the entertainment industry. Sometimes one opportunity changes a life drastically. However, I think early on in my career, I was constantly hoping that it would mean the journey would get easier.

Tell us about that.

That one great opportunity would open all the other doors. I don’t think life is always like that.

I often finish one project and then feel like I am back to hustling for the next one. I’ve learnt to enjoy this part of the work as well. To give myself fully to the work I am creating today and worry less about tomorrow.

This job rewards you but also challenges you in more ways than one. I guess I have learnt to love it despite the uncertainty. It would be lovely to constantly have a string of projects lined up, but it isn’t always the case.

How does theatre compare to film and TV?

There is something about the discipline of theatre. It’s very hands-on. There isn’t time for anyone to throw around any weight. Theatre also requires your whole self and body to be involved as well as your voice.

Not to say that film doesn’t, but film is often much more nuanced and technical. I have to say I love both equally. There is something magical about performing live and receiving that immediate audience feedback but also something about being on set that makes me feel at home.

Tell us about your new play.

It’s Hanna’s story of navigating being a south Asian woman today and the many demands of that. How much does culture define who we are? It’s about the decision to not trade authenticity for supposed freedom. The grass isn’t always greener.

I also feel Permission explores how women are subjected to needing to seek approval from others our entire lives, be it from family, friends, teachers, society and/or otherwise.

How would you describe Hanna?

Playful. Passionate. Caring.

What is your own favourite moment in the play?

The first scene between Hanna and her bestie Minza. I feel like it really encapsulates their relationship, comfort with each other and playfulness.

Who are you hoping this show connects with?

Hopefully everyone should resonate in some shape or form, but people who have experienced conflict with dual identity, from culture to work to family and women from any minority diaspora.

How do you feel ahead of the show premiering in London?

I’m so excited to see how audiences receive this. This play holds a special place in my heart, being the first one I have executive produced.

Do you get nervous before you go on stage?

Always. I feel like it’s good nerves. It just confirms that I deeply care about doing a great job. I think as creators, we all have an ingrained want to share our work and have people connect with it.

What inspires you?

Everything. People, experiences, music, feelings, film, art and books.

Why should we all come and watch your play, Permission? Because everyone at some point in their life has wanted to be somewhere else, thinking they will be happier. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we can’t live our best life authentically, that we can’t make change where we are. However, what we are looking for is often inside us, and not outside. It’s not 10,000 miles away, but is on our doorstep.

We juggle so many roles in our lives and sometimes need to step back and evaluate which are the most important and integral to our being, and what is required of us to become the best version of ourselves; not just to ‘please’ other people or fulfil a role, but to be happy.

Permission will be staged at The Space Theatre, 269 Westferry Road, London E14 3RS, from next Tueday (28) until next Saturday

(1). Instagram:

@Permission_Play and www.space.org.uk


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