@Abu Salim creator Randa Sayed is paving the way with drag! Randa, this isn’t your first time writing a new work. What might audiences experience that may surprise them from your previous works? This guy... He is by far the biggest surprise for the audience. Zac would call himself an immaculate conception (but the Arab Australian female version). After meeting Zac you may never forget him, for all the right reasons. This work is a womxn of colour led, character driven comedy. I have co-written this show with Karliea Decker, with artistic consultation from Phil Spencer. We are co-creating this work with Shy Magsalin, Ayeesha Ash, Zeinab Mahfoud and Sophea Op. This show is evolving through writers room style collaborations and improvisations with these wonderful artists. Our shared laughter and our ooohh that is so true! moments form our trail forward, and we are keen to see if audiences share our moments too. The show is comedic but what beneath the laughter do you hope may be presented in the work? Our intention is to pave a new way forward for women of colour. @ABU SALIM speaks to the way that we are all good or terrible allies of legitimizing women of colour. By playfully and blatantly placing myself in a powerful man's body, I am highlighting complex and problematic issues facing women of colour today. I am also paving a new way forward where women of colour can interact with problematic oversights and complex truths in a joyful, dynamic, and empowered way. This work also directly speaks to the complexities of men, and what we are currently seeing on prime-time news in Australia. It unearths the cultural clash between Arab men and the Western world, the inner fears men from this demographic hold within, and gender bias. How has the process been merging drag, clowning and text in creating this new work? Zac is our guide here. The team will often put on Zac’s voice when suggesting offers, as if he is within all of us and leading the way. The drag element is new to all of us, and we treat the form with respect. When I am playing Zac, I am channeling a masculine part of myself (thanks Zeinab!). This realization has helped me greatly, as it has given me freedom to play this character while owning my female body in the space. I would hate to promote a show where I encourage women to dress up as men as the only way to take up space. The show's character lives in Fairfield, a vibrant hub of so many cultures and Australian stories. What about Western Sydney has informed the work? When I first started to explore this character, I likened him to Shakespeare’s characters of fools – “clever peasants or commoners that use their wits to outdo people of a higher standing”. I auditioned for Bell Shakespeare a few years ago. I noticed they could only picture me as a clown character. So, I leaned into it. I asked myself – what is the real-life version of this character? A person who has intelligent things to say but who is easily treated like a fool due to their form of expression? I pictured someone from Western Sydney with a thick bro Western Accent. I got the role (but they didn’t want to keep the accent in the show). The show was amazing, but I did not love it as much as the accent and the possibilities of where that realization could go. Zac speaks with this accent, and to me he is an intelligent Western Sydney fool. He is a world class poet: even if the rest of Sydney disagrees. By playfully and blatantly placing myself in a powerful man's body, I am highlighting complex and problematic issues facing women of colour today. The character in this story is a barber, father and Newtown poet by night. We all have intersecting parts of ourselves – what do you want audiences to question themselves on? Have I ever been like Zac Salim? Like, cuz are we related? @Abu Salim show credits: Randa Sayed (Writer / Performer)Shy Magsalin (Director)Ayeesha Ash (Producer)Karliea Decker (Assistant Director / Co-writer)Phil Spencer (Creative Associate)Sophea Op (Performer)Zeinab Mahfoud (Cultural Consultant / Mentee) Tickets are still available to @Abu Salim, Friday 25th and Saturday 26th March! Book tickets here.