The Funeral Director
by Iman Qureshi
“I just thought it would be a secret I’d have to die with. And now – I think it’ll be what kills me.”
Life as the director of a Muslim funeral parlour isn’t always easy, but Ayesha has things pretty sorted. She and Zeyd share everything: a marriage, a business, a future.
Until Tom walks in to organise his boyfriend’s funeral. A snap moral decision, informed by the values of Ayesha’s community and faith, has profound consequences.
Forced to confront a secret she has hidden even from herself, Ayesha must decide who she is – no matter the cost.
Chosen from 1,384 entries to the 2018 Papatango New Writing Prize, The Funeral Director is an incisive and heartfelt story of sexuality, gender and religion in 21st-century Britain.
★★★★ “Every year the Papatango New Writing Prize comes up with a bit of a cracker…tackles, with grace and dignity, the tricky subject of Islamic attitudes to same-sex relationships.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
★★★★★ “A triumphant piece of theatre…mesmerising.” Ravi Ghosh, Spy in the Stalls
★★★★★ “Pitch perfect.” Shaun Dicks, Rewrite This Story
★★★★ “Papatango have dug up a real gem from a very promising writer.” Alex Benjamin, London Box Office
★★★★ “A writer to watch, Qureshi has written a brilliant piece.” Niall Hunt, Theatre Full Stop
“A sensitive and nuanced exploration of sexuality and the Islamic faith.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage
★★★★ “Tough, tender…extremely moving.” Asian Culture Vulture
★★★★ “Bravely explores the intersection of religious freedom, culture and LGBTQI rights…Despite the weight of its themes, there is plenty of sharp, dark comedy to enjoy.” Afridiziak
Recent Papatango Prize-winners at Southwark Playhouse include Trestle (2017) and Orca (2016):
★★★★ “A stealthy little heartbreaker.” The Times on Trestle
★★★★ “Brimming with quiet insight and sympathetic humour.” The Independent on Trestle
★★★★ “Makes a big impression.” Evening Standard on Trestle
★★★★ “A tender, lovely piece of theatre.” Time Out on Trestle
★★★★ “Funny, adorable, elegiac.” The Stage on Trestle
★★★★ “The Papatango New Writing Prize has a happy knack of discovering distinctive voices.” The Guardian on Orca
★★★★ “Seduces us with myth and theatrical magic.” Time Out on Orca
Please be aware that while there is no graphic imagery, violence, nudity or strong language in the play, there is one scene in which a baby is prepared for burial. If you have any concerns about watching this scene, please contact a member of staff who can advise on how this sensitive matter is presented.
Please note this production also uses strobe lighting.
Set & Costume Designer
Amy Jane Cook
Monday 5 November 2018
Post-show discussion: sexuality, religion and family
Following the performance of The Funeral Director, members of the creative team will be joined by a panel of experts to discuss how sexuality and identity are affected by religious beliefs and cultural values.
The panel includes Matt Mahmood-Ogston from the Naz and Matt Foundation, which exists to empower and support LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) individuals, their friends and family to work towards resolving challenges linked to sexuality or gender identity. The registered UK charity has won multiple awards for their work building bridges between religious and LGBTQI+ communities. www.nazandmattfoundation.org
Saturday 24 November 2018 – 3pm Show
Post-show discussion: Inclusivity and Religion
Following the matinee performance of The Funeral Director, members of the creative team will be joined by a panel of experts to discuss the inclusivity of religious communities.
The panel includes Tamsila Tauqir from the Inclusive Mosque Initative, which creates places of worship for marginalised communities for the practice of inclusive Islamic principles. It aims to create a family-friendly place of worship that welcomes people regardless of their religious belief, race, gender, (dis)ability, sexuality or immigration status. http://inclusivemosqueinitiative.org/
Credit: The Other Richard