Preview: Maya’s Honeymoons by Jesmin Chowdhury

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Photo courtesy of J. Chowdhury

There is still time to pick up the few remaining tickets to see the play ‘Maya’s Honeymoons’ this Sunday 20 November at the Brady Arts & Community Centre in London. It’s all but sold out, I’m told, with just a few seats – so book fast.

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Writer, actor and director Jesmin Chowdhury

The play, produced by ADDA (Arts and Drama Development Association) is aimed firmly at British Bangladeshi communities with most of the dialogue taking place in Bangla/Bengali and is the first play to be written by actor/director and writer Jesmin Chowdhury. In this production she tackles the issues of domestic violence and its acceptance within British Asian society. The story centres around a young girl married into an abusive relationship and how her husband’s controlling behaviour grows shattering her hopes and dreams. The director is Apu Chowdhury, Advisory director Mohammed Tasadduk Hossain Bahar and Jesmin is assistant director as well as taking the lead role.

I took a few minutes of Jesmin’s time away from rehearsals to ask her about the production.

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Ken Powell (KP): So, Jesmin apa, is it a typographical error that the title of the play says ‘honeymoons’? Surely there’s just one? Or does Maya get married several times?!

Jesmin Chowdhury (JC): No, the title doesn’t refer to a real honeymoon. When talking about the cycles of domestic violence there are recognised stages. There is violence and then honeymoon then calm, tension and violence again and so on. Maya has many, many such ‘honeymoons’ but never a real one.

KP: Where is the play set?

JC: In the UK but deliberately written so it could be in any town or city where Bangladeshis live. This could be in any community.

KP: What was your inspiration for writing Maya’s Honeymoons?

JC: Over many years I’ve known a lot of families and seen how agencies like Social Services work with those struggling with domestic violence. One of the key issues is that families are often reluctant to admit there is a problem and wont go to such agencies which can help at all. Both men and women find it hard to accept there is a problem – even among educated middle class backgrounds. I wanted to encourage people who have negative opinions about how Social Services and other agencies work and the help they can give. In my experience they resolve difficulties well once they’re involved.

KP: It sounds like the play will cover some deep and difficult issues. Will there be a discussion time afterwards?

JC: Yes, the play itself will last about 1 ¼ hours and then we will open the floor to questions and discussion about the issues raised.

KP: Is there hope in the play?

JC: Yes, the play gives a positive message that there are ways out of the problems of domestic violence. But it also gives a warning too – you’ll have to watch the play to find out!

KP: What makes this play important?

JC: More often than not it is men who write plays about such issues. This is a play written by a woman, for women (and men, of course), about issues which affect women. It’s important for men to see it but I’d like to see more women coming to watch it too.

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‘Maya’s Honeymoons’ will be performed on Sunday 20 November 2016. Doors open at 17:00 and the performance begins at 17:30. Language is Bangla/English and the show is suitable for ages 14+. Go to the website for tickets.

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