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An Ode to My Sisters

An Ode to My Sisters

Issue 62 November 2009

Director: Yasmin Gurreeboo

Reviewed by Amena Mussa Sacranie


An Ode to My Sisters is a play which explores and challenges the lives of Muslim women in Britain. Directors Yasmin Gurreeboo and Lucy Bradley set out to present the voices of Muslim women in 2006 when they started collecting stories. They worked with individuals, women’s groups and an advisory committee in order to create a new piece of drama.
The characters in An Ode to My Sisters give us various outlooks on how they perceive Islam, and to what extent culture plays a part in this. The play follows the lives of twin sisters, Ferhana and Aisha: two personalities that contrast one another. Ferhana, played with moving candour by Asta Perry, is reluctant but agrees to marry a man her parents have picked out, which delights her mother. As the play proceeds we see the relationship between Ferhana and her mother in-law take a nasty turn. Zubeida portrayed by Ansuya Nathan reveals a controlling mother in-law who firmly clasps on to cultural beliefs and expects Ferhana to follow. The tragedy of the character of Zubeida is that she was controlled her whole life, and yet she cannot see that she is maintaining this vicious cycle with her daughter in law.
The play highlights the courage, strength and spirit of Muslim women. The settings and backdrop of the stage were simple yet elegant. A couch was placed in the centre, giving a domestic feel to the play. Multiple story lines interject one another, conveying the plight of many a woman, suppressed by her culture and illogical perceptions of religious values.
The play would be incomplete if it was not for Houria Niati’s eloquently powerful voice; her presence resembling that of a Greek chorus- mystical and enchanting. Her singing and recitation of Qur’anic verses with the translation being projected on the screen, enhanced the electric atmosphere which combined with the videos completed the play. Directors Yasmin Gurreeboo and Lucy Bradley cleverly merged physical theatre and video projections to amplify the honest tales of these brave women.
Many a Muslim woman will find themselves discovering a strong connection to some of these characters, the stories resembling much of their personal experiences in relationships, family and culture.


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