Weekly Rep Quick Q&A: Suhayla El-Bushra

Name: Suhayla El-Bushra

Hometown: Brighton

Which play do you wish you’d written? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee.

6 words to describe your play? Stark, smutty, funny, raw, kind, dark.

Favourite character in your play and why? Ashley. The play didn’t start off being about him but he kind of took over. He’s an idiot and his decisions have terrible consequences – but there’s something very sweet about him. He’s got a huge amount of love for the people around him, he just doesn’t know how to show it. Every time he tries, things go badly wrong.

What does the title mean? You’ll have to come and see it to find out!

Where do you write? Anywhere and everywhere. Mostly at my living room table looking out of the window, trying not to get distracted by my neighbours.

What do you like to do (not including theatre)? I’ve got two small kids so if I’m not looking after them or writing I just like to sit and stare blankly into space.

Favourite thing about London? Kilburn High Road.

What makes you happy? A good day’s writing. My kids playing together and not hitting each other. Reading the weekend papers on the day they were issued. Lots of things. I’m easily pleased.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought (excluding a house)? A digital video camera, designed to kickstart my film making career. I ended up writing instead.

Which words or phases do you overuse? “Did you wash your hands?”

What is your greatest fear? Michael Gove.

What would be your last meal? My dad’s Spaghetti Bolognese.

Where would you like to be right now? I’m quite happy where I am.

What would you be if you weren’t a playwright? I might still be teaching. I think it’s safe to say neither I nor my students would be enjoying it very much.

What time do you go to bed? 11ish.

Did you do any research for your play? It came out of some research I’d done for a different project. I’d read an interesting article about the symbiotic relationship between Islamic Extremism and British Nationalism, and how the two fuelled each other. I had that in my head when I started thinking about the play but only as a jumping off point.

What would you say influences you? Everything. People I know, people I’ve met, my childhood, my parents, stuff I read in the papers, music, other plays, films, TV, other writers, the weather, what I had for lunch. The list is endless…

What’s your favourite line in your play? “I said what is this? Batty food? She said it’s just meatballs Amir, try it. I said I ain’t eating no batty shit.”

If you could have any super power what would it be? Flying. And being able to time travel. Is that a super power?

Do you like surprises? Yes! But only nice ones.

Pigeons by Suhayla El-Bushra will be performed in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs 25 – 29 June 2013 as part of our Open Court Weekly Rep season. Click here.