The Big Idea Belief

Published on Tue 15 Oct 2013
The Big Idea continues at the Royal Court Theatre in October offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage. The Big Idea: Belief starts on Monday 28 October and explores the breadth of ideas in Rachel De-lahay's Routes, Abhishek Majumdar's The Djinns of Eidgah and Suhayla El-Bushra's Pigeons, which embarks on a London schools tour in November.


The Big Idea continues at the Royal Court Theatre in October offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage. The Big Idea: Belief starts on Monday 28 October and explores the breadth of ideas in Rachel De-lahay’s Routes, Abhishek Majumdar’s The Djinns of Eidgah and Suhayla El-Bushra’s Pigeons, which embarks on a London schools tour in November.

Launched during Open Court – a six week festival of plays and events suggested by over 140 writers, The Big Idea seeks to foster debate and collaboration, bringing together leading thinkers and artists from all walks of life to engage with the big ideas of our times, through a series of debates and events.

All events will be livestreamed on the Royal Court website

AlixPartners support The Big Idea at the Royal Court Theatre.

Inspired by Rachel De-lahay’s Routes, Abhishek Majumdar’s The Djinns of Eidgah and Suhayla El-Bushra’s Pigeons
Tickets: £5 (or free with a ticket to Routes or The Djinns of Eidgah)
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Monday 28 October, 6.15pm
Islam: What’s the Big Idea?
Rania Hafez, Aamer Hussein, Khyle Alexander Raja and Ziauddin Sardar (Chair) explores Islam as a faith looking at Sunni and Shi’a identities to ask how we define Islam today.

Rania Hafez is a writer and academic. She is senior lecturer in Education at the University of Greenwich and visiting research fellow at the universities of Derby and New Buckinghamshire. She is a regular political and cultural commentator whose media credits include the BBC, ITV, the Islam Channel, as well as national and local radio. She writes as a columnist for Spiked and The Free Society and has been published in The Independent and the educational press. Besides holding key national roles in education, Rania Hafez founded the professional network Muslim Women in Education. In 2010 she was named as one of six ‘women of the world’ by a leading German style magazine.

Khyle Alexander Raja is an Artist based in London. He creates vivid landscapes through the art of drawing, influenced by his professional background in architecture and a life-long fascination with science fiction. Khyle is also a creative producer with Soul City Arts, a cutting edge organisation that brings together artists across various spectrums, exploring themes of spirituality and the urban space.

Ziauddin Sardar (Chair), writer, broadcaster and cultural critic, is Professor of Law and Society at Middlesex University. Author of over fifty books, he is considered a pioneering writer on Islam and contemporary cultural issues. His books include Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim, Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain, and, most recently, Reading the Qur’an and Muhammad: All That Matters. He is the Chair of the Muslim Institute and co-editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim.

Tuesday 29 October, 6.15pm
Young, Angry and Throwing Stones: Political and Religious Radicalisation in Kashmir

Playwright Abhishek Majumdar gives an insight into the history of Kashmir and what life is like today for the people of Kashmir, chaired by author Victoria Schofield with Renos K Papadopoulos

Abhishek Majumdar is an Indian playwright and director. His play The Djinns Of Eidgah opens in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court on 18 October.

Renos K Papadopoulos, PhD, is Professor of Analytical Psychology, Director of the ‘Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees’ and a member of the Human Rights Centre, at the University of Essex, as well as Honorary Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Family Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic; in addition, he is a training and supervising Jungian psychoanalyst and systemic family psychotherapist in private practice. As consultant to the United Nations and other organisations, he has been working with refugees, tortured persons and other survivors of political violence and disasters in many countries.

Victoria Schofield (Chair) is an author, biographer, and military historian. She has written extensively on the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in articles and books, Kashmir in the Crossfire and Kashmir in Conflict , published by Tauris.

Thursday 31 October, 6.15pm
I Speak for Myself – Feminism and Islam

Humera Khan, Dr Laura Zahra McDonald (Chair), Sabrina Mahfouz, Samira Shackle debate and discuss Islamic feminism and the role of women in Islam.

Dr Laura Zahra McDonald is Co-Director at ConnectJustice and lectures internationally while researching, engaging and advising high-impact projects for diverse organisations including RAN Int/Ext (EU), Royal United Services Institute, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Real ActionUK, An-Nisa Society and the University of Cambridge. Laura continues to teach and engage on issues of gender and justice, with regular courses at Cambridge Muslim College and The Deen Institute.

Journalist Samira Shackle specialises in social affairs, politics, race, and south Asia. Previously a staff writer at the New Statesman, in 2012-13, she went freelance, reporting from Pakistan, covering the 2013 general election, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, and the rise in violent extremism.

Sabrina Mahfouz is a poet and playwright and attended the Royal Court’s Young Writers programme. Her solo show Dry Ice, won widespread critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and has been awarded a UK Young Artists Award for poetry. She is Creative in Residence for Theatre & Poetry at The Hospital Club and is poet in residence at the Science Museum.

Humera Khan is a freelance consultant and researcher. She is a founder member of An-Nisa Society, an organisation managed by women working for the welfare of Muslim families. Through the organisation she has been involved in setting up projects such as Islamic counselling, the Supplementary Muslim School (co-coordinator), written a series of books on sexual health from an Islamic perspective called Cycle of Life. She is currently working on a three-tiered project entitled British Muslim or Wot? working with young Muslim boys and men dealing with issues to do with identity and alienation.

Saturday 2 November, 1.30pm
Global: Local – Cultural Identity in London

Abdul-Rehman Malik, Murad Qureshi and Suhayla El-Bushra celebrate and interrogate the plurality of cultural experience amongst young Londoners.

Suhayla El-Bushra is a playwright based in Hove. Her credits at the Royal Court include Pigeons, in Weekly Rep as part of Open Court, which embarks on a 20 date London schools tour this November. On television, she is currently writing for Hollyoaks and other credits include a feature screenplay for Jeva Films (supported by the Film Council), an interactive teen drama and several scripts for Doctors. Her theatre credits include 66 Books at the Bush Theatre and Cuckoo, produced at the Unicorn next year.

Murad Qureshi is a London Assembly member for the Labour party and is Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee. He grew up in Central London where he attended his local comprehensive school before receiving a degree from the University of East Anglia and an MSc in Environmental Economics from UCL. He worked in Housing and Regeneration for 15 years establishing Housing Associations and Co-ops in the East End in response to chronic housing needs. He was an Executive Committee member of SERA (1994-2000) campaigning on green issues and a former member of the City of Westminster Council (1998-2006) representing the neighbourhoods he grew up in. Murad is a former Board Member of BRAC UK, an International NGO that seeks to alleviate poverty and empower the poor in the UK and abroad.

Abdul-Rehman Malik (Chair) is a journalist, educator and organiser, currently programmes manager for the Radical Middle Way, an organisation that gives young Muslims the inspiration and tools to enable positive social change, promote social justice and combat exclusion and violence.

For more information, please contact Anna Evans on 020 7565 5063

Notes to Editors:
Coutts is the Royal Court Theatre Innovation Partner

Coutts is the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts has a long history of supporting the arts going back 200 years, having looked after the financial affairs of many famous clients connected with the arts such as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens and Chopin. In 1816, Thomas Coutts married Harriot Mellon, a popular actress of her day, and together they became partners of a number of London Theatres, including the Drury Lane and the Royal Opera House. Coutts has even featured in a number of artistic works including The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the new millennium, this tradition has continued not only through Coutts managing the finances of many of today’s top writers, actors and musicians, but also through our arts sponsorship programme. We are delighted to support The Royal Court and its diverse range of ground-breaking performances.

AlixPartners support The Big Idea at the Royal Court Theatre

The Royal Court offer radical thinkers and provocative voices a home, wherever they come from. The Big Idea series brings this to life by engaging the public in debate and discussion about civic, political, domestic and international issues. As a leading global business advisory firm of results-oriented professionals who specialise in creating value and enhancing performance, we share in this conviction to challenge pre-conceived standards and generate new ideas. AlixPartners is
delighted to support the Royal Court in this exciting new programme.

The Royal Court Theatre’s Flight Partner is American Airlines

American Airlines supports the Royal Court by providing transatlantic flights. For more information on American Airlines or our support of theatre, contact our press office at