Muslim-Jewish group is set to have you singing, laughing and may be even dancing…
HITTING the boards from tonight is an innovative, quirky and dare we say it, revolutionary comedy sketch show.
Well, revolutionary may be overstating it a little, but heard the one about the Jews and the Muslims who get together and have a
laugh about things that wind each other up.
You think we’re joking and having a laugh ourselves?
No, tonight’s “Come in! Sit Down” show at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London, enjoys a six-day run at the iconic theatre and is staged by the MUJU Crew.
The MUJU Crew is a group of Muslim and Jewish writer-performers who came together to make creative work and break down the conventional barriers that exist between the two communities.
MUJU Crew began in 2004 as a creative collaboration and partnership that developed out of the Tricycle’s Muslim Jewish Theatre Youth Group.
The group was presented with an the first ever Mosaic Talent Interfaith award by HRH Prince Charles and partners with both the
Tricycle and Rich Mix in Tower Hamlets.
One of the leading members of MUJU crew and writer/performer and co-director of tonight’s “Come in! Sit Down!” is Salman
Siddiqui (pictured right), alongside colleague, Josh Azouz.
Siddiqui told www.asianculturevulture.com: “I would describe it like a musical sketch show. Most of the performers will be
“We’ve been going on ten years and doing work around social issues, whatever that means, and so it’s generally been stuff that we feel strongly about and as a Jewish-Muslim group, we talk about the Middle East.”
He said the show sets out to be funny but with an underlying message of tackling ignorance and prejudice that exists on all sides.
“It’s generally been stuff that we have felt strongly about and as a Jewish-Muslim group, we talk about the Middle East.”
He explained further: “The sketches are from the group and we are talking about issues whether it is extremism, racism or Islamphobia, it’s about understanding the personal stories and what we find really interesting is that we all know about things
going on in the world but how does it impact on ordinary people just trying to get on with normal life.”
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For the first time MUJU Crew is putting on a week-long show and has reached another milestone in marking its total of ten years in existence since the group first loosely came together.
“This is part of the Tricycle programme and a co-production and we have Arts Council funding. It’s the first time,” pointed out Siddiqui.
It’s a group that prides itself on breaking down barriers and being open and honest and it often informs the creative process for the MUJU crew.
“On the first day we asked what are the elephants in the room: the occupation, Gaza, Isis – let’s get it all out in the open. We wrote it all down.”
By discussion and role playing by putting an individual with strong views in the ‘hot seat’ and asking them ‘to be Israel or Hamas’ and answer questions, led to some frank exchanges and genuine insight and understanding.
“It is a challenge; we are all biased in some way and see the world through the prism of upbringing and what we read and what our faith teaches us, but working on something together, we are very open minded, you have to be a genuine shared voice and that means the result is a genuine shared narrative.”
They tackle communities, individuals and some practices but stay clear of anything about the revered figures in both faiths.
“We mock people, communities and individuals and we might mock what people say, but we don’t mock the religion, so long as we stick to that and do it in a clever way and through a character that’s realisable, it’s acceptable.
“You are taking an audience with you and for you to do that you need to be sensitive, we are not interested in mocking or parody for the sake of it but it is about packaging that message and humour is a great way of doing that.”
Siddiqui, who is one of the founding members, simply responded to an ad by the Tricycle in the London Evening Standard calling for young people interested in theatre.
“It was just a call out and for a six-month programme and nobody expected it to be as good it was. It was just a random group (of young people). During that summer some of us really clicked and we thought we don’t want this to end.”
They performed a sketch show in 2005 at the end of the first period together as a group and they went on meeting and collaborating and began to develop a momentum and ethos that was recognisably their own.
“MUJU Crew was really born in 2008,” revealed Siddiqui. “We want to be professional and more than just a community group (which is how they started), but at the same time we were still doing our outreach work, going into schools.”
One of their products, Alia Bano, was named most promising playwright in 2009 by the Evening Standard for her play, “Shades”. In the same year, Bano also won The Critics Circle Theatre Award for most promising playwright and is writing for television now.
MUJU Crew’s first production “Extreme Prevention” in 2010 was a hit and established the group’s future.
Siddiqui commented: “We’ve had a lot of success in giving people confidence and exposure and giving them the opportunity to have their work up on stage.”
On a personal front the chartered accountant balances the creative life with his profession.
“I’ve always been interested in the performing arts, but as an Asian and Muslim, there’s also the pressure of needing to do a sensible job.”
At the moment, he’s combining the best of both worlds and loving it. He has a full time job as an analyst for a top city bank.
“I really enjoy it, there is a little bit of an overlap as I cover the Middle East and Africa and travel to the region a lot and it genuinely interests me.”
But for now, meet Siddiqui, the funny man, the singer, performer and co-director of “Come in! Sit Down!”
The other performers in this show are: Ramzi DeHani, Stevie Basuala, Amina Zia, Daniella Issacs, Dominic Garfield and Lauren Silver.
‘Come in! Sit Down!’
From tonight to Sunday, August 2 7.30pm with Sunday matinee at 3pm. Age: 16+
Tickets: From £10 Web/Tel: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/
Tel: 020 7328 1000