An interview with accomplished director, Poonam Brah on her upcoming staged reading of Noor . . .
Who is your favourite character in Noor?
Noor herself. Noor was such a morally good and exemplary person who refused to cave in to torture and imprisonment. We had to find ways in to show her inner conflicts and journey so that we could bring her to life and understand the choices she made and what was driving her. Uniquely Noor was also an artistic and spiritual person, an accomplished musician, writer and Sufi. Fascinatingly, we discovered that it was these uniquely creative talents that enabled her to elude the enemy for so long and gave her a positive strength even when she was the last woman standing in Paris.
What do you want to communicate to the audience through the performance?
We feel a real affinity with Noor as a woman who was compelled to go beyond what she knew, to find her voice and it’s this rebellious spirit we want to capture.
How do you direct a staged performance, and what are the challenges?
As the actors will be reading the text and performing, the challenge is to lift the play off the page and give an overall sense of the power of Noor’s story.
Noor is based on a real-life story, did you know it before you become involved as a director?
I’d read of Noor’s story as a glamorous seeming spy in women’s magazines growing up and she was one of the only women of colour I associated with WW2. Her achievements were on my list of stories I wanted to explore when I started my own devising company. Then Kali Theatre handed me an earlier draft of Azma’s play in 2015 and I was hooked. Azma and I agreed to collaborate on making a play we hope to take to full production. We have been awarded an MCG Bursary to support us to make this bigger, more ambitious project, told from a female perspective.
The WAR plays season is linked to the 70 year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . . .any reflections?
The real Noor Inayat Khan is a national and global icon for standing up to fascism for equal human rights for all. It’s been an enlightening experience to work on a story, which is about men and women from different faiths, allegiances and countries compelled to come together and risk everything to resist fascism, particularly in the time of Brexit.