Guest Blog: Afreena Islam

Hello, I’m Afreena, and I’m bringing my show Daughters of the Curry Revolution to the Surma Centre in Camden, as part of CPT’s Sprint 2016.

The show is about my dad, Michael. He’s 84 and confused. My mum’s in Mecca until the day before my show opens (great timing!) so I’m here in Manchester, hanging out with him.

Where most artists might write a blog about their process, or at least something that’ll make you want to see their show (!), I’m here wrangling with the ethics of what I’m doing… Sometimes I feel guilty about making this show, like I’m capitalising on the fact that my me and dad ages agodad has had an interesting and sometimes traumatic life, for my own artistic gain. And then sometimes I think that his story is fascinating and that people might want to hear about it, in a theatrical way. And then sometimes I think: ‘is it right for me to share stories about him without his permission? Is it right for me to share his stories if I can’t obtain his permission?’

He had, in my eyes, quite a traumatic childhood (although I’m sure he wouldn’t describe it in that way), and that experience has shaped who he is today. How do you know how to be a good husband, and a good dad, if you’ve never experienced what that is? Is that a poor excuse?

The show is also about me, and my experience of him being my dad (which actually as a kid was really positive). I think I have nothing in common with him; he certainly wasn’t caring for his elderly father at the age of 25!

My dad is 58 years older than me, according to his passport (!). I’ve only been alive for 30% of his life, so I’ve been trying to piece together what happened in the other 70% I wasn’t alive for. We don’t talk much, so in making this show I’ve had to be pretty creative in how I’ve obtained information about him… Secret recordings of his best friend reminiscing about life in the 60s, getting my inquisitive 4-year-old niece to ask him questions. As you can probably gather, he doesn’t know I’m making this show. I do plan on telling him, though it will probably just confuse him.

I’ve never told my dad that I love him and it would be contrived if I ever did. We’re not a very lovey-dovey family. But I guess this performance is something of a love letter, maybe?

Catch Daughters of the Revolution on 18-19 March off-site at the Surma Centre. Limited capacity of only 5 people per show, so advanced booking strongly advised!