Writer Sukh Ojla spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about her new play Pyar Actually, playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. 

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Hi Sukh – thanks for talking to Love London Love Culture. Could you tell me a bit more about what Pyar Actually is all about? Pyar Actually is about Polly, a woman who seemingly has it all. She’s followed the path that was set out for her, marriage, kids and a steady job but an email from her teenage sweetheart makes her rethink everything.

How did the idea for the play come about?  Rifco theatre company and I worked together to organise workshops within my local community in Gravesend. Pyar Actually was born from all the people I met during this time and their stories. I had a real desire to tell stories about first generation British Asian women whose stories often get overlooked in mainstream media.

This is your first full length play – how did you find the writing process?  In a word, challenging! I was very lucky to be part of the Rifco Associates Scheme which meant that I got a lot of support, which included working with a brilliant dramaturg. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had all this support, Pyar Actually would still be languishing in my desk drawer.

What would you say is the main message of Pyar Actually?  The main message is to follow your heart. It may sound cheesy but I’ve met so many women from South Asian communities who have not felt  they could follow an “unconventional” path in life. Whether that is working in the arts, not getting married or living abroad.

What would you like for audiences to take away from the play? I would hope that the play makes people think about their own lives and choices that they have made. But also I hope that audiences find it refreshing to see a play about the British Asian community that is comedy and not “issue based”.

What’s next in store for you? As well as working on my next play I am preparing for my first stand up show at the Edinburgh festival this year.

By Emma Clarendon

Pyar Actually continues to play at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until the 19th May. For more information visit: http://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/pyar-actually . 

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