Saturday, 22 July 2017

Liver and Lung and Dramaturgy: Shafeeq Shajahan & Hannah Shields @ Edfringe 2017


Sarah, Sky & 7 Other Guys

Submission: When a man mounts a man, the throne of God shakes.
Sameer, a young British Pakistani, struggles to reconcile his sexual desires with his Islamic roots. 

As his frustrations manifest, he recites spoken word come quasi-Quranic compositions, poignantly exploring the harsh, unforgiving realities that queer people of colour face. 

Using powerful verse and dynamic physical theatre against the backdrop of conventional naturalism, Submission is a piece of theatre that is not only unique and contentious, but which forces audiences to contemplate the importance of integrating age-old philosophy with new-wave ideology.

Sarah, Sky & 7 Other Guys: A raw exploration of love, life and libidos.

Sarah, and her Indian gay best friend Sky, embark on a journey of sordid sexual encounters and hilariously painful events. 

Stifled by the sexual injustices that exist with being a woman and a queer person of colour, Sarah is paralysed by perfectionism and Sky is riddled with self-doubt. 

In a world of opportunity, the pair know what they want and how to get there – if only boys were as straightforward! 

As seven men pass through their lives, they learn that the things that once bound them together must inevitably drive them apart.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
  • As a half English-half Malaysian company, we have always been interested in showcasing contemporary, cultural injustices in contrasting, sensational ways. Our two shows, as different as they may be, are both inspired by the gender and racial disparities that twenty-somethings face in London today.
  • Submission, a story about a queer, Muslim British Pakistani, highlights the
    difficulties that gay people of colour face in London in a spiritual, shocking and almost salacious way. We've infused Quranic translations with sexual spoken word to discuss a rarely talked about group of society. It's surreal, it's meaningful and, semi-autobiographical, it's very personal to me as a writer and director. 
  • Sarah, Sky & 7 Other Guys, on the other hand, explores the traditional homo-hetero relationship between Sarah and Sky, her Indian gay best friend and the myriad of seven men as they pass through their lives, The audience is taken on a hilarious and relatable journey, experiencing first hand how horrible dating is for a woman and a queer person of colour in the modern, 'liberal' age. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
  • After watching Angels in America at the National, I don't think it's even possible to disagree with this. It's baffling how transcendent theatre can be. We love performing and putting on a spectacle but it's important to us that we're always uncovering a little more, always holding up a mirror to our audiences so they are left thinking and on the edge of their seats

How did you become interested in making performance?
  • Personally, I love exploring the intersection that exists between spirituality and sensuality. Hence, many of the productions that Liver and
    Lung has showcased has compared the uncanny similarities between Godly connection and sexual emancipation. Submission talks about this explicitly - and with an Islamic lens, what's there not to be intrigued about!?

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

  • It's starts with instinct, leads on to collaboration and finishes with hard work. Firstly, you need to feel 'right' about the concept you're committing to - you've got to feel like you were born to explore its narrative. Secondly, you need to develop trusting, foundational relationships with the actors and creatives around you. Finally, good theatre requires rigour, discipline and a constant 'can-do' attitude.  
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
  • Yes and no. Coming from Malaysia, we've tended to keep productions more commercial so we've used the Fringe to really expand our writing styles and push dramatic conventions as much as we can. However, as always, our shows  have always talked about culture, social injustices and sexual experiences in stimulating ways so I guess nothing's really changed!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
  • Queer people of colour have limited platforms so it would be nice for audiences to listen to rarely heard stories, for one. To add to that, we're a very visually engaging theatre company so if you're watching one of our shows, prepare to be stimulated and dazzled - it's what we do best!

Liver and Lung Productions is a critically acclaimed international theatre company with British and Malaysian roots. Founded in November 2014, the company have produced musicals and plays in London, Edinburgh and Malaysia. This year, the company has won the prestigious Innovation in Musical Theatre Award at the Malaysian National BOH Cameronian Art Awards ceremony.

Listings Information

C, Venue 6, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
2-28 Aug
Submission - 2:20PM (0h50) 
Sarah, Sky & 7 Other Guys - 4:40PM (0h50)

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