Montreal, August 28th, 2019 – For its second production since the company’s 2018 inauguration in Montreal, the Silk Road Institute (SRI), Canada’s first professional Muslim theatre company, presents SPUN. London-based writer Rabiah Hussain’s debut play about South Asian identity in Western society had its world premiere in the UK at London’s Arcola Theatre in June of 2018.
This production of SPUN, directed by multi-disciplinary artist, Mercedeh Baroque, makes its Canadian debut at the esteemed Centaur Theatre, from September 18 to 28, 2019.
“A powerful tale of female friendship and an intimate look at navigating race, religion and class in modern day Britain […] pure brilliance.”
– TheatreBubble (UK)
SPUN is the story of Safa and Aisha, best friends from working-class British Pakistani families in Newham, London. They have just graduated from university and, for the first time, their lives are headed in different directions. Safa goes to work at a large marketing firm in Central London while Aisha remains in Newham to become a teacher, but both promise to meet every Thursday. When the 7/7 London bombing occurs, Safa and Aisha suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of questions and suspicions. Safa reacts by distancing herself from her Muslim roots, while Aisha embraces her identity in order to defend her community. Cracks in their friendship begin to appear as the debates of the outside world seep into their personal lives. Is their longstanding bond strong enough to endure the powerful socio-political forces reshaping the world?
“an utterly distinctive voice: playful yet profound, rooted, class-conscious and effortlessly poetic”
-The Guardian (UK)
In a July 2018 interview for Brown Girl Magazine, Rabiah Hussain said that SPUN was inspired by “anecdotal things from my life and people I have known”, explaining that it isn’t a story about extremes, but about the day-to-day lives of these two girls, exploring how terrorist acts can affect innocent people’s sense of self, and their relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
“Hidden Gem […] Hussain writes stingingly of what it’s like to be working-class as well as Asian. A spellbinding, assured debut.”
– FringeReview (UK)
Mohamed Shaheen, SRI’s Artistic Director said, “We chose SPUN because its characters are seldom recognised in our everyday storytelling. This story is of second-generation Muslim-born women who choose divergent paths as they enter adulthood, and as it develops, they begin to redefine themselves in the eyes of their Muslim community, the larger public, and their own estimations. They are complex and nuanced, fearless and heroic, anxious and confused, transcending the usual one-dimensional narratives.”
Director Mercedeh Baroque added, “We believe that Ms. Hussain’s play will resonate strongly with audiences, as it touches on the intricacies of identity, and how communities handle everyday struggles, wrestling with questions of belonging in increasingly polarized climates.”
“an accomplished, refreshing debut”
– The Stage (UK)
Amena Ahmad (Safa) is busily making a name for herself on the Montreal stage working with accomplished directors such as Ellen David (Infinitheatre) and Liz Valdez (Teesri Duniya Theatre), as well as taking TV/film roles in both French and English (Paramount’s Jack Ryan, NBC’s The Bold Type, CBC’s This Life, Radio-Canada’s Enquette and Télé-Québec’s Pour vivre ici). Pakistani-born Sundance Nagrial (Aisha) is a graduate of Humber College and George Brown. She lives and works out of Toronto where she has been in various theatre productions, most recently How May I Help You? (Lighthouse Troupe), The Indomitable Mrs. Rothman (New Ideas Festival/Alumnae Theatre), Ladies Sigh No More (Daisy Productions/Red Sandcastle Theatre), and We the Men (Soulo Theatre/Toronto Fringe Festival).
“Spun unflinchingly details the systematic and unthinking micro-aggressions directed towards young working-class British-Pakistani Muslim women […] the devastating effects these can have on their sense of self, their friendships and their attachments to their community.”
– Morning Star (UK)
Having worked with SRI last fall, the Set Designer/Technical Director, Michael Tonus, and Costume Designer, Swati Khanna, return to respectively create the environment and clothing that reflect the girls’ shifting identities. Tim Rodrigues, a theatre and dance designer, creates the lighting and Rehan Lalani the sound, with Shayne Lovsin-Couture as Production Manager, Julia Lenardon as the Accent Coach, and Nikita Bala stage managing.
Written by Rabiah HUSSAIN
Directed by Mercedeh BAROQUE
With Amena AHMAD & Sundance NAGRIAL
Set Designer/Technical Director Michael TONUS
Costume Designer Swati KHANNA
Lighting Designer Timothy RODRIGUES
Sound Designer Rehan LALANI
Production Manager Shayne LOVSIN-COUTURE
Accent Coach Julia LENARDON
SRI Artistic Director Mohamed SHAHEEN
Stage Manager Nikita BALA
453 Saint Francois-Xavier
Montreal, QC H2Y 2T1
September 18 to 28, 2019
From $25 to $27