Interview with Kamal Kaan, writer of Aaliyah (After Antigone)

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We asked Kamaal Kaan, writer of Aaliyah: After Antigone about his inspiration for this new adaption of a Greek classic, and what audiences can expect from this contemporary retelling in our upcoming Autumn production.

What was your starting point for writing Aaliyah: After Antigone?

For me, this modern adaptation of Antigone was about taking the essential drama from the original and transplanting it in to a world that was contemporary, within my own milieu and naturalistic. The two sisters Antigone and Ismene became Aaliyah and Imani: two British -Bangladeshi sisters and they are inspired by my own family members. I asked myself the question, if a story like this was to be told today, how could it affect us and what would be at stake? This question of identity and citizenship is a fiery and topical debate and how – as British Bangladeshi Muslims, there’s no guarantee of our citizenship even if we are British born and the constant threat and fragility of having that taken away from us. The play becomes a fierce battle of loyalty, family, love and politics, all set within the landscape of Bradford.

How did you approach writing a modern version of such a classic play?

The process was a journey of discovery and delight working with director and Dramaturge Alex Chisholm, spending time, teasing apart the original and finding the inspiration for the modern adaptation. Commissioned pre Covid-19, the play was always intended to have a digital element and was very prophetic in the now sudden demand and creation of digital theatre. Aaliyah: After Antigone is an urgent state of the nation thriller, made for both a live audience and a digital audience online.

How does it feel to see your work transformed in to a production for both a live and digital audience, and what excites you most about having both experiences taking place within one production?’

The piece was always commissioned to be a part live and part digital experience, opening up the opportunity for the show to have access to a wider audience. I think the evolution of live theatre beyond a physical building allows for exciting ways to make work in a much more multimedia way. For those in Bradford the immediacy and intimacy of live perfomance beckons, meanwhile our online audience can be part of something really exciting as we experiment with how far the technology created in partnership with CARBON: Imagineering can be artisically moulded to allow audiences their own theatrical experience online.

Aaliyah: After Antigone runs at the Impact Hub Bradford from the 8-16 October.

Tickets for the live performances are now available online, priced at Pay What You Can: £0/£4/£6/£10 and Pay What You Feel for the digital performance. Click here to book.

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