LISTENING to the onslaught of headlines about Muslims in the news took its toll on writer Naylah Ahmed, but it also stimulated her creative juices and provided the inspiration behind her latest play.
The Birmingham based playwright explained that Ready or Not delves into important issues because it is trying to respond to what has been happening
in the world politically since the September 11 attack.
Ahmed told Eastern Eye she became overwhelmed with the portrayal of Muslims during the “war on terror” coverage, and she was keen to put forward a counter-narrative exploring the impact of world events.
“This has been churning for a long time in my head. It’s about the messy jostling idea of who we are, unpacking this idea of collateral damage,” she said.
“It’s about a British woman, Pat, in her mid 60s, and when a young Muslim lad comes to her door really feeling strongly about a situation where the West is considering bombing another country in the Middle east, he gets more than he bargained for because she ends up taking him captive.
“They end up embroiled in this situation that neither of them can get out of. It explores the bigger things that are happening in the world in a very domestic setting.”
Ahmed, who also produces radio drama for the BBC, said her political thriller was not light entertainment, and examined the personal battles her characters were going through in the wider context of the current global situation.
“I hope, by the end of the play, we’ve looked beyond the ‘us and them’ to ‘her, him and me,’” she said.
After the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in America, and subsequently the 7/7 London bombings, Ahmed said her relationship towards her faith changed as a Muslim.
“It’s made people, including myself, really take seriously what they believe. It’s been felt by us (Muslims) that we have to be apologists for extremism and
exude a complete sense of ‘moderate Islam’ whatever the hell that means.”
She added that she was concerned about her three-year-old son who was growing up in a world where there was a climate of fear against Muslims.
The play, which is being presented by Kali Theatre, which promotes writing by South Asian women, was developed after being presented at one of Kali’s popular Talkback evenings of staged play readings.
Her play Mustafa, which was commissioned by Birmingham Rep and co-produced by Kali Theatre, was awarded a Special Prize by the National Theatre Foundation in 2013. She has also written for the children’s television series Jamillah & Aladdin.
 Ready or Not tours from April 5 in Birmingham, Canterbury, London and Plymouth.
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