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Bradford-born playwright returns to the district with new children’s play Jabala and the Jinn

Asif Khan returns to Bradford with his children’s theatre show Jabala and the Jinn, a story that explores grief and friendship through the eyes of a young girl.

Award-winning playwright and actor Asif Khan is taking his new live theatre production Jabala and the Jinn on the road this spring, debuting the show at the Kala Sangam Arts Centre this weekend.

This poignant family play, aimed at children between five and twelve, was produced by AIK production and Turtle Key Arts. The production was developed by writer Asif khan with young British Muslim actors that explores grief and friendship through the eyes of young Jabala.

Asif Khan returns to his hometown of Bradford with the first live showings of his play, Jabala and the Jinn.

Mr Khan was born in Bradford and attended Salt Grammar School in Baildon before moving to London, where he now lives permanently, after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Bradford, to study at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

Full English star Natalie Davies plays Jabala, with Sara Mazzanti as Jinn, and Riad Richie playing Munir and Dad.

The young British Muslim actors who helped create the show devised and explored the different ideas and themes of grief, family, and cultural heritage, championing diverse representation for the stage.

The play is a story of a little girl’s encounter with a very cheeky Jinn. When Jabala thinks she hears the voice of her dead mother, it is up to her and the new refugee boy at school – a Shakespeare enthusiast called Munir – to uncover the truth and summon the Jinn. However, this is no ordinary Jinn, not like anything she has heard about in her grandma’s stories.

The show’s writer, Asif Khan said: “I like creating new theatre and plays. The inspiration for this play comes from being a father to a five-year-old boy.

“I’m from the Muslim Pakistani community and I don’t see that sort of representation on the stage, in stories, or in dramas. I created the play so that people from my community would feel included in the arts. It is so important to see yourself represented – we underestimate how important that is to children.

Full English star Natalie Davies plays Jabala.

“Seeing the glow on my little boy’s face, who was four at the time, when we watched the live stream of Jabala and the Jinn, impassioned me further to show this play to as many children as possible.

“We had an opportunity to work with Kala Sangam and Stratford Circus. We worked with three British Muslim actors and together, we improvised and created some themes, and I went away and wrote the play.”

He added: “We had hoped to tour the play last year, but the pandemic stopped us, so we streamed it live online. Our dates at Kala Sangam will be the first time that the public will see this play live.

“I love coming back home to Bradford. It is only me, from my family, in London, so my mum and dad, brothers and sisters, nieces, and nephews are all in Bradford, so I miss it.

“I also miss the green landscape and fresh air. I try to come back to see my family as much as often, but it is really important to me, to bring the shows I’m working on, to my hometown.”

Sara Mazzanti plays Jinn, and Riad Richie features as Munir and Dad.

Director, Rosamunde Hutt said: “I’m delighted that despite these extraordinary times we are able to reach out to children and families with this play by award-winning writer Asif Khan.

“Jabala and the Jinn is funny, poignant and full of heart, featuring three children who revel in the unexpected and face jeopardy and change with resilience and optimism.

“To complete the mix, we’ve got a vibrant set and lighting design and evocative original music. Nominated for Best Theatre Production Asian Media Awards 2021, Jabala and the Jinn will bring Asif Khan’s witty and delightful perspective to young audiences nationwide.”

The play is touring England for the next three months and will be shown across eight theatres with multiple shows.

Jabala and the Jinn will be shown at 11 am and 2pm on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 February at Kala Sangam Arts Centre. Tickets, which are Pay What You Feel, can be booked in advance on their website.

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