Directed by Milli Bhatia

A Bush Theatre production licensed by Hijabi Monologues USA

  • Bush Theatre has captured as short films all nine of the monologues performed as part of the UK premiere production of the international project Hijabi Monologues


  • Released online today are videos of the first four monologues


  • Hijabi Monologues, an international project founded in the USA, is about creating a theatre space for the experiences of Muslim women


  • Each production across the world is a unique combination of local and international stories. The London programme includes three new monologues by British female writers -including a first-time writer from Shepherd’s Bush – alongside monologues written by Hijabi Monologues founder and head-writer Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah


  • Hijabi Monologues London was first performed at the Bush Theatre from 28 – 30 September 2017 as part of Hijabi Monologues Europe managed in partnership with the British Council.



The Bush Theatre has today released videos of four stories from their production of Hijabi Monologues London which played to capacity audiences in September. A further five videos will be released on 12 October. These will all be free to view on the Bush Theatre’s YouTube channel.


This, the first live to digital production undertaken by the theatre, is part of an international project focussing on the real-life experiences of both local and international Muslim women. In a similar style to Black Lives, Black Words at the Bush Theatre earlier this year, Hijabi Monologues London features interweaving stories from our doorstep as well as experiences of Muslim women in other parts of the world and was performed at the Bush Theatre from 28-30 September.


Directed by Milli Bhatia, the performance features monologues penned for this international project by head writer and founder Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah as well as new works from members of the Bush Theatre’s immediate community totalling nine UK premieres. Of the three new works, two are by emerging writers and one by first-time local writer, Amal Abdi.


The cast of six women of colour includes four actresses discovered through an open audition call out. Hijabi Monologues London is the stage debut for Hibo Muse, who is a member of National Youth Theatre. Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (The Archers), Michal Keyamo (The Welcoming Party, Theatrerites) and Aryana Ramkhalawon (Waterloo Road) were also cast from the open call. Ayesha Darker, best known as Nina Karnik in Holby City and for Tamil film The Terrorist, and Zainab Hasan (Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar Warehouse and St. Ann’s Warehouse NYC) complete the cast.


First time performer Hibo Muuse said, ‘As a young black British hijabi I’ve always struggled with the concept of identity. Walking into an acting workshop being greeted by people who don’t look like me or relate to me can be intimidating and the feeling of telling other people’s stories can make you feel isolated and foreign. This project is not only an exciting chance for our voices to be heard as Muslim women, but it is also an opportunity for us to take control of these stories and tell them ourselves – openly and honestly.’

Madani Younis, Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre said, ‘This year we have deliberately brought international movements into our local community with the hugely successful Black Lives, Black Words back in March and the Hijabi Monologues London. With London still reverberating from events that have made us question what community is, it is imperative that artists and audiences come together to stand up for and celebrate the diversity of our city.’


Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a founder, Creative Director and Head Writer of the Hijabi Monologues, which has toured the United States and internationally for a decade. A South Floridian Bangladeshi based in New York City, Ullah has been invited to speak about her work at the United Nations, U.S. Embassies and universities around the world.


Milli Bhatia trained on the MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck and was previously Resident Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. She is a Creative Associate at The Gate Theatre. Previous credits at the Bush Theatre include My White Best FriendThis Bitter Earth (both Black Lives, Black Words), Left Hangin’ and Here Comes the Bride.



The first set of videos includes:

The People You Meet by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a collection of stories about the types of strangers Muslim women meet in public. Performed by Aryana Ramkhalawon.


New Ways of Looking by Nimmo Ismail is about the experience of watching and being watched on the tube. Nimmo has worked with both Talawa Theatre Company a member of TYPT:16 and The Royal Court Writers Group. She is currently the Trainee Assistant Director on Wings (supported by the Boris Karloff Foundation) at The Young Vic. Nimmo is a Youth Ambassador at Southbank Centre, a member of Barbican Young Programmers and a Future Film Programmer at the BFI. Performed by Zainab Hasan.


Hitting on a Hijabi 101 by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a unique collection of comedic vignettes about the types of strategies a variety of men deploy for picking up a hijabi. Performed by Nadi Kemp-Sayfi.


My Son’s Wedding Feast by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is the story of a woman who struggles to remember the moments after hearing some news about the sudden death of her eldest son. Performed by Ayesha Dharker.


The second set of monologues, to be released on 12 October will include:


With Her Back Straight by Hanan Issa which tells the story of an inspirational mother who taught strength in the face of challenges and adversity. Hanan wrote the piece to honour her own mother’s story but to also recognise the struggle of all mothers. Hanan is a writer and poet from Cardiff. She has written for and Huffington Post and her poetry has appeared on various online publications, on both major Muslim TV networks, and BBC Radio Wales. Performed by Nadi Kemp-Sayfi.


Hoops is about a woman’s first experience at a football game. The original story, Hurricane, by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah, has been adapted by Bush Theatre’s Ellie Horne to fit the UK context. Performed by Michal Keyamo.


I’m Tired by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah expresses one woman’s frustration with the burden of representation. Performed by Zainab Hasan.


Hijabi Spiderman by Amal Abdi, the story about a young Muslim girl’s superhero identity in London. Amal lives in Shepherd’s Bush and is studying History at university. Hijabi Spiderman is her first professional theatrical work. Performed by Michal Keyamo.


The Story about the Really Quiet Subdued Shy Not Sociable Hijabi by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah is a story about a young woman who becomes the talk of her peers after a surprising incident. Performed by Hibo Muuse.


Hijabi Monologues, an international project founded in the USA, is about creating a theatre space for the experiences of Muslim women; a space to breathe as they are; a space that does not claim to tell every story or speak for every voice. Each production across the world is a unique combination of local and international stories.


Hijabi Monologues London is a licensed production of Hijabi Monologues USAIt is part of the Hijabi Monologues Europe programme which is managed in partnership with the British Council. Hijabi Monologues London is supported by Amal – A Said Foundation Project and Safera Foundation.

Walter Nicoletti
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