Interview With…Iskandar Sharazuddin

Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted to the playwright about Silently Hoping, playing at the Applecart Arts from the 27th November.

The previous cast in rehearsals for Silently Hoping.

Hi Iskandar, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain a bit more about what Silently Hoping is about? Silently Hoping is a play about belonging and relationships. It is the story of Kalila who is 30
and on the cusp of making a big decision to have children with her girlfriend, Charlotte, but she’s struggling a lot with a sense of self. Kalila is a mixed-race Southeast Asian-British woman and a sometimes-Muslim but she also really likes wine. This play is about a woman who finds it difficult to reconcile her identity as a Muslim with her identity as a British person.
At a crucial time in her life, she folds inwards when she asks the question, who am I?

How did the idea for the play come about? There are six characters in this play. Rather indulgently, each of them feels like a version of
me. I am a mixed-race Southeast Asian person and in the last few years I have been asking a lot of questions about myself and my heritage. The play has come out of those questions. At the same time as trying to excavate material from my own life I have also tried hard to remove myself from the story, it is drawn from my personal experiences but at the same time
it isn’t autobiographical. I need that space from it, otherwise it feels too much like therapy on stage (not that therapy is a bad thing, I just don’t want it to be public.)

What would you say you would like for audiences to take away from Silently Hoping? I want to challenge audiences. I want to challenge perceptions of what it means to be black or Muslim or Asian in Britain today. There are pervasive and damaging stereotypes that dominate mainstream media and narratives and I want audiences to come away having looked at these characters through different lenses. I hope the play widens their world, just a little.

How does it feel to have Silently Hoping staged?Actually terrifying. In 2019 I have written two plays that have been directly drawn, perhaps
more than usual, from personal experiences and while I have tried to remove myself from the story it still feels very exposing. Having anything staged feels very exposing to me but having something so close to home, that’s nerve-wracking. I am incredibly fortunate to have a really solid group of friends and collaborators who have been behind this work at every
step of its development. I wouldn’t have had the courage without them to pursue this play or turn those corners.

What can audiences expect from the play? Audiences can expect to see some beautiful heartfelt performances from some really bloody
good actors. They can expect to see a story that has its finger on the pulse, I hope. A story that has currency and addresses a lot of things that seem to be at the front of people’s minds. They can expect to see colour both on and off stage.

By Emma Clarendon

Silently Hoping will play at the Applecart Arts from the 27th to the 30th November.

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