Tooting playwright hopes new play shines a light on modern culture

An award-winning playwright hopes her extremism-inspired play will help to challenge and dispel cultural stereotypes.

Stephanie Silver, who lives in Tooting, is a practising paediatric nurse who writes, performs and produces plays in her spare time.

Her latest play, OUR BIG LOVE STORY, runs at The Hope Theatre in Islington from March 20 until April 7, and deals with themes of youth culture, extremism, religion and porn.

Stephanie described the show as a gritty portrayal of working-class multiculturalism, and believes those factions of society are not well-represented in the arts.

She said: “The play is about change from within.

“It’s got a real message; I just want people to see it.

“It’s a really contemporary piece of theatre that could actually branch a wide demographic of people.

“For any young Muslim that comes to see it, hopefully they’ll be able to identify themselves within it; there’s a lot within the play about youth culture.”

Stephanie began to write the play around the time of the Westminster bridge attack in 2017.

Motivated by recurrent incidents of terrorism and how they were portrayed in the media, she decided to express her feelings creatively.

“I got inspired over the years because so many terrible things had happened,” she said.

Stephanie explained how reporting of the attacks’ perpetrators encouraged her to compose the production.

She said: “When white people do an attack, it’s not terrorism; and when people of colour do, it is.

“I kind of wanted to tap into all of that.”

She added: “It definitely increases fear of islamophobia; that stuff that comes out in the papers just increases hate.”

“There are lots of really great things going on in the community that don’t get a lot of attention.

“And those things could with being brought to attention.”

When she’s not writing, producing, performing or nursing, Stephanie helps run campaign group Actor Awareness, which endeavours to help working class actors by creating opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Asked about young Asians in theatre, Stephanie admitted there was still a deficit.

She said: “Definitely, in theatre, I think it’s harder because minorities aren’t as well represented.

“You tend to get a lot more white, middle class people writing plays.”

Stephanie explained that OUR BIG LOVE STORY was about putting five characters on stage that wouldn’t normally be together, and seeing what happens.

The lives of those central characters intertwine as the play explores tensions between their conflicting world views.

Temporally, the story works by rendering events in different timelines, which interlink throughout.

The cast comprises five actors, not all of whom attended traditional drama school.

Stephanie hoped this would make the performance resonate with her audience.

She said: “I want to write about real people because I hate going to the theatre and feeling like it’s really pretentious; and I hate it being unrelatable.

“I want to make relatable plays that are contemporary and fun — not stuffy and old.”

On The Hope theatre, she said: “I’ve seen their stage and it works really well.

“They’ve got a good, core audience.”

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