ABOUT HIJABI MONOLOGUES
Hijabi Monologues is an international theatre project which encourages and provides a safe space for Muslim women to share their stories.
These monologues go beyond the much debated hijab, celebrate the gift of the gab, and present personal insights—ranging from the laugh-out-loud funny to the painful—into the experiences of Muslim women. The stories may be common to many women, but do not have to speak for all.
Hijabi Monologues first originated in the USA in 2006. Since 2012, the British Council and its partners have been working to develop the Hijabi Monologues Europe. A premier production was launched in Ireland in April 2013 followed by a tour of the Netherlands in 2014-15 and a Hijabi Monologues London production in 2017. Through Hijabi Monologues Europe, we want to share the everyday stories of Muslim women who wear the headscarf to connect different communities; Muslims and people of other faiths; women who choose to wear hijab and those who choose not to; across generations and ethnicities.
All Hijabi Monologues Europe performances are officially licensed productions of Hijabi Monologues.
Hijabi Monologues London
Hijabi Monologues London was a UK premier production developed in partnership with the renowned Bush Theatre in September 2017. Directed by Milli Bhatia, stories included existing experiences of Muslim women from other parts of the world and three new works penned by emerging or first-time writers from the Bush Theatre’s immediate community in London. Local stories included 'Hijabi Spiderman' by Amal Abdi, about a young Muslim girl's superhero identity in London and '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. The Hijabi Monologues London cast was equally diverse and inclusive involving six women of colour, four of whom were discovered through an open audition call out.
Supported by Amal - A Said Foundation Project and the Safera Foundation, Hijabi Monologues London enjoyed four sold-out performances from 28-30 September 2017, as well as many excellent reviews including a five star rating ★★★★★ from The Stage which described the show as “funny, frank and moving” . The London production has since been shortlisted for both an Eastern Eye ACTA award and Asian Media award in 2018.
And a treat for those of you missed who missed the Hijabi Monologues London. All nine stories can be watched here.
You can also read an interview for the British Council's Voices Magazine with Sahar Ullah, founder and creative director of Hijabi Monologues. Sahar talks about the show’s ten-year international run and what makes an audience laugh, cry or gasp.
Hijabi Monologues Netherlands
The Hijabi Monologues Netherlands production in 2014-15 brought together a fantastic mix of women, Muslim and non-Muslim, from all walks of life and multiple cultural backgrounds.
The tour, which was supported by Dutch partners Theater Zuidplein and artist Rajae el Mouhandiz, in partnership with the British Council, followed on from a series of auditions and workshops which took place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. These included three generations of Dutch Muslim women auditioning together for the first time at the Amsterdam School of the Arts.
Over a year in the planning, those taking part brought with them a wealth of experience in the arts, others in business, education or health. Some studying Masters degrees, others illiterate or unemployed. But common to all was a tireless enthusiasm for the Hijabi Monologues and a strong desire to be involved and to share their own stories.
More details on Hijabi Monologues Nederland can be found here.
Hijabi Monologues Ireland/Northern Ireland
In 2013, Muslim women from across Ireland were asked to submit accounts of their personal experiences. Writers then worked with actors to develop the stories for theatrical presentation and to see them performed professionally on stage.
In April of that year, Hijabi Monologues Ireland took to the stage at Axis Ballymun. A wider programme of activities, in partnership with Immigant Council of Ireland, included talks and workshops, and the first British Council annual lecture in Ireland, which was delivered by UK writer and activist, Sheila Janmohamed.
A Northern Ireland première of the Hijabi Monologues Ireland production was then staged in Belfast as part of the Belfast Festival @ Queen’s in October 2013. A performance also took place at the international Women of the World Festival, Derry/Londonderry City of Culture, in November 2013.
Hijabi Monologues Featured on BBC World Service
You can listen to a BBC Newshour interview with with Hijabi Monologues co-founder Sahar Ullah and European partners Niamh niChonchubhair and Rajae el Mouhandiz here (scroll to 30 minutes into the programme)
How To Get Involved
To find out more about becoming involved in Hijabi Monologues Europe, either as an individual or potential partner/sponsor, contact the British Council office in Dublin.