Ambreen Razia brings ‘The Diary of a Hounslow Girl’ to Theatre Royal Margate 13 & 14 May.
The Reviews Hub spoke to Ambreen about the production and her inspirations.
Across the UK, many young British Muslim women struggle to get their voice heard. The sometimes conflicting pressures of combining two cultures a challenge for the adolescents.
Ambreen Razia’s début play takes a witty yet straight-talking look at the typical life of an aspirational 16-year old “Hounslow Girl”. As the show prepares for a UK tour, Razia spoke to Glen Pearce about the process of creating the play.
The Diary of a Hounslow Girl sees a young woman trying to reconcile her British and Pakistani heritage.
The Diary of a Hounslow Girl sees a young woman trying to reconcile her British and Pakistani heritage. What was your approach and reason for creating it?
Before getting into acting, I worked as a facilitator, working with a group of young girls between the ages of 12 – 16 in a project called Raised Voices. It was a project where we tackled issues like FGM [female genital mutilation], teen pregnancy, stuff like that, and then we created a short film and toured it around the borough. So I had a year to get to know these girls, who were incredible young women but also not the most well-behaved young women. So yes, they inspired me a little bit to write a show based on a 16-year-old girl and the reason why she was Muslim is because I combined basing it on them and also some of the characters that I knew at school and some of my friends that I had at school who were Muslim. That’s kind of where Hounslow Girl came from and also it was to give myself a platform into the industry as well, because I found that when I came out of university I desperately wanted to work. But there’s a big for lack of roles for Asian and black actors.
So is it hard to write a character like her without resorting to stereotypes?
No, not really, I think because I had such a good year to conjure up a load of research before I even started writing it. It’s sort of semi-autobiographical, in terms of the characters I’ve met at weddings and some of the people that I’ve known in the past, but, at the same time, it’s not really particularly based on my own experiences but based on a lot of people I know and their experiences. I guess it’s all coming from real places and real people.
I mean it’s real life. There’s nothing really made up about it, even though it looks quite bold. There are young women out there who are like that.