Khan's first play, The Office – a grubby comedy about drug dealers operating out of a phone box in King's Cross, which won a Verity Bargate Award in 2001 – also premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, but he has upped the stakes with the satirical tone of Prayer Room. The play can partly be seen as an inverted analogy for events in the Middle East – in the course of promoting their cause, everyone is guilty of religious intolerance and, to a degree, moral hypocrisy. Essentially, though, Khan wanted the play to do two crucial things. By placing three different cultures side by side in a hot-house environment, he wanted to present a vivid portrait of multicultural Britain living not in discrete ethnic ghettos but cheek by jowl. "TV execs [Khan is also a Bafta nominated scriptwriter] ask me to write a multicultural play; what they actually want is a drama about a black barbershop in Hackney," says Khan, who was born in Scotland to Asian parents and lives in London. "That's not multicultural: that's about one culture living inside another country. All that does is feed the goldfish-bowl mentality. Look on the Tube, look at where you live: the real drama lies in how different cultures interact."
Monday, July 04, 2005
Playwright and scriptwriter Shan Khan is interviewed in The Independent ahead of the opening of his new play, The Prayer Room, in Edinburgh next month.