Caro Meets Theatre Interview

AJ: Aisha

By | Published on Friday 23 November 2018

Some time ago – I think it might have been in the summer of 2017 – a show on in London called ‘Aisha’ caught my eye, because it tackled a particularly thorny and troubling issue. I’m glad to see it back again, this time touring a number of different venues over the December and January.

To find out more about the show, and the inspiration, I spoke to creator and director AJ.

CM: Firstly, can you tell us a bit about the story ‘Aisha’ tells?
AJ: Aisha desperately disgorges her woes; the repressive afflictions caused by her being forced to submit, and regrettably surrender to a pernicious force, which is her 51-year-old husband. This tumultuous arrangement was devised by her parents when Aisha was 14; both parents profited financially from this. – This play is inspired by true events.

CM: What are the primary themes of the piece?
AJ: Apart from the salient theme, which is child marriage, other intrinsic themes are explored such as: gender inequality, the impediment of certain oppressive archaic traditions, abandonment, misogyny, sexual exploitation, abuse, rape, mental health, depression, isolation, the limitless search of knowledge to empower oneself; along with a plethora of societal endeavours that continue to impede the lives of many.

CM: What made you decide to tackle the subject, and in this form? What inspired you?
AJ: Society’s reluctance to greatly elucidate such a nodus is what propelled me to compose such a piece. As an artist it is our duty to reveal the unrevealed and reissue what has already been revealed.

CM: Would you say it’s a political piece? Are you trying to draw attention to this issue?
AJ: Yes. However, it is not a political piece because it was created with the intention to be. For I believe, once an artist endeavours to convey a message in their work, this conveyance of a message propels the art to hit a political sphere. The message is riddled with the artist’s ideologies, beliefs, concerns or notions, which implore you the spectator to question, to debate or to take part in some way.

CM: To what extent do you think creative endeavours like this can contribute to effecting social change or awareness?
AJ: To a great extent! Just the simple act of conveying unadulterated truth can cause one to act, react or change. This is a given, that is why lies are spewed to enforce you to do the opposite. Take the tragic Yemen War for instance, if we were consistently bombarded daily with the truth that the UK has and will continue to profit off such a calamity, by licensing at least £4.7bn arms exports to Saudi Arabia; and then if we further bombarded with detailed accounts of the result, which is what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis; I think we as a population would be inclined to react and enforce change in some way.

However, if we were presented with the obscured version of that truth, we will feel less inclined to respond with our hearts. The amazing thing about theatre is that it immerses not just your mind but your spirit, transporting you into the reality of others; through the immersive aesthetics of live performance. Theatre can and should be used for social reform, or imbuing ‘social awareness’.

CM: I think a previous version of the show featured an ensemble cast, but it’s now a one-person show. What is the reason for that?
AJ: Ironically, when I wrote the play initially it was a one-woman play. After the first production, it was evident that the story of Aisha is most poignant when it is depicted by Aisha herself.

CM: What hopes do you have for the play following the upcoming dates?
AJ: I hope to inspire those to be aware of what impedes others, and at the very least offer assistance. Approach your fellow brethren with your heart and not your mind. If Aisha was present she would concur, for she would tell you that her forced marriage, her entrapment, and the abuse that she endured would never of transpired if the people around her embraced her with compassion, care and with her best interests at heart.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? Any new projects in the pipeline?
AJ: Certainly! I will be directing two-short films; both which I have written. And I hope to produce my second play before the end of next year. Blessings!


 

‘Aisha’ is on at the Old Red Lion Theatre from 3-8 Dec, at the King’s Head Theatre from 9-10 Dec, and at Tristan Bates Theatre from 4-5 January. Click on the relevant links for info/tickets.

LINKS: www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk | www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk | www.kingsheadtheatre.com



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