Hijabi Monologues London is part of an international project focusing on the real-life experiences of both local and international Muslim women. In a similar style to Black Lives, Black Words at the Bush Theatre earlier this year, Hijabi Monologues London features interweaving stories from our doorstep as well as experiences of Muslim women from across the world and will be performed at the Bush Theatre from 28 – 30 September.

Directed by Milli Bhatia, the performance will feature monologues penned for this international project by Co-Founder, Creative Director and Head Writer Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah, as well as new works from members of the Bush Theatre’s community totalling nine UK premieres. Of the three brand new works, two are by emerging writers Nimmo Ismail and Hanan Issa, and one is by first-time local writer Amal Abdi.

Madani Younis, Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre said, ‘This year we have deliberately brought international movements into our local community with the hugely successful Black Lives, Black Words back in March and the upcoming Hijabi Monologues London this September. With London still reverberating from events that have made us question what community is, it’s imperative that artists and audiences come together to stand up for and celebrate the diversity of our city.’

Recruited through an open audition call, the cast of Hijabi Monologues London comprises established talent alongside a performer making their stage debut. The actors are: Ayesha Dharker, Zainab Hasan, Michal Keyamo, Hibo Muuse, Nadia Kemp-Sayfi Nadi and Aryana Ramkhalawon.

First time performer Hibo Muuse said, ‘As a young black British hijabi I’ve always struggled with the concept of identity. Walking into an acting workshop being greeted by people who don’t look like me or relate to me can be intimidating and the feeling of telling other people’s stories can make you feel isolated and foreign. This project is not only an exciting chance for our voices to be heard as Muslim women, but it is also an opportunity for us to take control of these stories and tell them ourselves – openly and honestly’.

Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is Co-Founder, Creative Director and Head Writer of Hijabi Monologues, which has toured across the United States and internationally for a decade. A South Floridian Bangladeshi based in New York City, Ullah holds a PhD in Arabic and Comparative Literature from Columbia University where she will be teaching literature as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. She has consulted for a number of theatre and television productions on Muslim cultures including Orange is the New Black.

Milli Bhatia trained on the MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck and was previously Resident Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. She is a Creative Associate at the Gate Theatre. Previous credits at the Bush Theatre include My White Best Friend, This Bitter Earth (both Black Lives, Black Words), Left Hangin’ and Here Comes the Bride.

Hijabi Monologues London includes:

Hijabi Spiderman by Amal Abdi is the story about a young Muslim girl's superhero identity in London.
New Ways of Looking by Nimmo Ismail is about the experience of watching and being watched on the tube.
With Her Back Straight by Hanan Issa tells the story of an inspirational mother who taught strength in the face of adversity
Hitting on a Hijabi 101 by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a collection of comedic vignettes about the types of strategies men employ in picking up a hijabi.
Hoops is about a woman's first experience at a football game. The original story Hurricane, by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah, has been adapted by Bush Theatre's Ellie Horne to fit a UK context.
I’m Tired by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah expresses one woman's frustration with the burden of representation.
My Son's Wedding Feast by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is the story of a woman who struggles to remember the moments after hearing news about the sudden death of her eldest son.
The People You Meet by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a collection of stories about the types of strangers Muslim women meet in public.

The Story about the Really Quiet, Subdued, Shy and Not Very Sociable Hijabi by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a story about a young woman who becomes the talk of her peers after a surprising incident.

Hijabi Monologues, an international project founded in the USA, is about creating a theatre space for the experiences of Muslim women; a space to breathe as they are; a space that does not claim to tell every story or speak for every voice. Each production across the world is a unique combination of local and international stories.
Hijabi Monologues London is a licensed production of Hijabi Monologues USA. Hijabi Monologues London is kindly supported by Amal – A Said Foundation Project, British Council and Safera Foundation.

Hijabi Monologues London
28 – 30 September, Bush Theatre
Thursday 28, Friday 29, Saturday 30 September at 7.30pm

Saturday 30 September at 2.30pm

Standard tickets: from £20
Count Me In: £10
Count Me In tickets are available for performances in the Theatre. These are unreserved tickets which will be allocated by the Box Office on the day of the performance. You might not be sitting next to people you booked with but you will be guaranteed a seat.

Phone: 020 8743 5050
In person: Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 8LJ
Online: https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/hijabi-monologues/

Amal Abdi – Writer
Amal lives in Shepherd's Bush and is studying History at university. Hijabi Spiderman is her first professional piece for theatre.

Nimmo Ismail – Writer
Nimmo is currently the Trainee Assistant Director on Wings (supported by the Boris Karloff Foundation) at The Young Vic. Nimmo is a Youth Ambassador at Southbank Centre, a member of Barbican Young Programmers and a Future Film Programmer at the BFI.

Hanan Issa – Writer
Hanan, a writer and poet from Cardiff, has written for MuslimGirl.com and Huffington Post and herpoetry has appeared on various online publications, on both major Muslim TV networks, and BBC Radio Wales. She wrote With Her Back Straight to honour her own mother's story but to also recognise the struggle of all mothers.

Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah – Writer
Sahar is Co-Founder, Creative Director and Head Writer of Hijabi Monologues, which has toured across the United States and internationally for a decade. A South Floridian Bangladeshi based in New York City, Ullah holds a PhD in Arabic and Comparative Literature from Columbia University where she will be teaching literature as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. Ullah has been invited to speak about her work at the United Nations, U.S. Embassies, and universities around the world, as well as media outlets, including BBC Newshour, The Irish Times, and Jakarta Globe. Committed to bridging her scholarship with the arts, Ullah has developed storytelling workshops for young women of colour and has consulted for a number of theatre and television productions on Muslim cultures including Orange is the New Black.

Ayesha Dharker – Actor
Ayesha’s theatre credits include The Island Nation (Arcola Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Arabian Nights (RSC), Anita and Me (Birmingham Rep, Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Dijnns of Eidgah, Disconnect (Royal Court) Dr Faustus (Bristol Old Vic) Bombay Dreams (West End and Broadway), and The Ramayana (National Theatre). Television includes Holby City, Indian Summers, The Indian Doctor, Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Waking The Dead, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, Cutting It and Doctors. Film includes Tamil film The Terrorist, for which she was awarded Best Artistic Contribution by an Actress at the Cairo International Film Festival, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, for which she played Queen Jamillia.

Zainab Hasan – Actor
Zainab’s theatre credits include Shakespeare Trilogy (Donmar Warehouse and St. Ann's Warehouse NYC), Boy (Almeida theatre), TORY Boyz, Romeo and Juliet, Prince of Denmark (Ambassadors Theatre), On The Dole (Lyric Theatre), Routes (Hampstead Theatre) D and The Boyfriend (Oval House Theatre) and Totally Over You (Tricycle Theatre).

Michal Keyamo – Actor
Michal’s most recent project was The Welcoming Party (Theatrerites), a site-specific piece which premiered at The Manchester International Festival this year. It used the performers’ own personal stories to explore forced migration, displacement and the relationships between migrants and host countries. Michal has also performed at The Globe, Young Vic, King’s Head Theatre, Arcola Theatre and overseas.

Hibo Muuse – Actor
Hibo studied Drama at both GCSE and A-level and is a National Youth Theatre member. Hijabi Monologues London will be her stage debut.

Nadia Kemp-Sayfi Nadi – Actor
Nadia is currently recording for the Archers on the BBC and is taking part in the R&D for Adrift, a British-Arab Collaboration with the Symbiont Company. Her theatre credits include Phone Home (Upstart Theatre), Little Stitches (Time Won’t Wait), I Think I Can (RSC), Unfollow Me and Between the Two (Birmingham Rep), Save Our School Dinners…Jamie! (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry) and Burning Books (Leicester Curve).

Aryana Ramkhalawon – Actor
Aryana is best known for playing Trudi Siddiqui in BBC's Waterloo Road and is currently appearing as the Princess of Bhaghdad for CBBC's Jamillah and Aladdin. Other recent work includes Ode to Leeds (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Glasgow Girls (National Theatre of Scotland).

Bush Theatre – Venue
The Bush Theatre is a world-famous home for new plays and an internationally renowned champion of playwrights. We discover, nurture and produce the best new playwrights from the widest range of backgrounds, and present their work to the highest possible standards. We look for exciting new voices that tell contemporary stories with wit, style and passion and we champion work that is both provocative and entertaining.

The Bush Theatre has produced hundreds of ground-breaking premieres since its inception in 1972, many of them Bush Theatre commissions, and hosted guest productions by leading companies and artists from across the world. The Bush Theatre is widely acclaimed as the seedbed for the best new playwrights, many of whom have gone on to become established names. The Bush Theatre has won over 100 awards, and developed an enviable reputation for touring its acclaimed productions nationally and internationally.

In March 2017, the Bush Theatre reopened following a year-long £4.3million renovation by architects Haworth Tompkins. The redevelopment includes a brand new studio space, rehearsal room, entrance and front-of-house area as well as an exterior garden terrace.

For more information, please visit: bushtheatre.co.uk

Madani Younis – Artistic Director, Bush Theatre
Madani took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. This year, he was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board to advise Sadiq Khan on issues facing the creative industries and culture sector and help him craft a bold new Culture Strategy for London. In 2016 he directed the world premiere of Zaida and Aadam by Gbolahan Obisesan and revived 2015’s critically acclaimed production of The Royale by Marco Ramirez. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two-week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.

Bush Theatre
7 Uxbridge Road
London W12 8LJ

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Tel: 020 8743 3584
Box Office: 020 8743 5050

20 Sep - 21 Oct (Bush Studio)
by Sophie Wu
directed by Mel Hillyard

28-30 Sep (Bush Theatre)
directed by Milli Bhatia

18 Oct - 25 Nov (Bush Theatre)
by Chris Thompson
directed by Rob Hastie