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Kibong Tanji (ALDWYCH, THEATRE ROYAL STRATFORD EAST, TRAFALGAR STUDIOS), Claudia Jolly (OLD VIC, CHICHESTER FESTIVAL THEATRE), Shuna Snow (RSC), Lara Sawalha (NATIONAL THEATRE, YOUNG VIC, ALMEIDA), Freddie Stabb (GRAEAE, MANCHESTER ROYAL EXCHANGE), Mariah Louca (YOUNG VIC, EVERYMAN, ALMEIDA, ROYAL COURT), Fanta Barrie (BIRIMINGHAM REP, THE OTHER PALACE, HIGHTIDE) and Fayez Bakhsh (THE NATIONAL) have been cast in the premiere of Iman Qureshi’s heartwarming comedy about community, queerness, and belonging. With songs.
THE MINISTRY OF LESBIAN AFFAIRS
BY IMAN QURESHI. DIRECTED BY HANNAH HAUER-KING
5 MAY – 11 JUNE 2022
PRESS NIGHT 11 & 12 MAY, 7.30PM
NOTE: REVIEWS EMBARGOED UNTIL AFTER 11.59PM 12 MAY
When banks and sandwich shops have more pride than we do,
where can we go to be with our tribe?
It’s 2022. There’s a rainbow flag in every high street window – and no lesbian bar.
Enter The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs: a lesbian choir on a mission to unite its community.
Soho Theatre and Damsel Productions, the theatre company championing women’s untold stories, announces the eight-strong cast for the premiere of award-winning writer Iman Qureshi’s latest play, The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs. Directed by Hannah Hauer-King, this heart-warming play with songs will be Soho Theatre’s new-writing highlight of the season, forming part of its spring/summer 2022 programme.
Qureshi (2018 Papatango Prize winner, The Funeral Director and Soho Six 2019 alumni) breaks new ground writing a comedy about a lesbian community choir struggling to survive. Led by a world-weary conductor with lofty ambitions, the disparate and unruly choir gossip, flirt and attempt to sing their way onto the main stage at Pride.
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs is a timely play which places community and togetherness at its very heart, whilst exploring deeper questions about lesbian invisibility, male violence and ultimately, the desire for a life with dignity and a sense of belonging.
Qureshi comments: “When I first arrived in London, Soho instantly felt like home. I’m thrilled that this precious piece has found its home too in the heart of Soho. This show could be for anyone who has felt alone and is longing for connection, communion, or a big warm hug.”
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs director Hauer-King, who also worked with Qureshi on The Funeral Director, adds: “Plays with songs have a particular power and can connect with audiences in a special way. This is a story about belonging, harmony and togetherness, and the music of the choir feels like the perfect way to riff on these themes. But despite its lighter tones, Ministry is also a play asking some difficult questions about why lesbian women struggle to commune and take up space.”
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs was co-commissioned by Soho Theatre and Damsel Productions and is supported by the Cara Delevingne Foundation. The production will run for 6 weeks in Soho Theatre’s Main House from 5 May to 11 June 2022.
Kibong Tanji – Lori
Claudia Jolly – Ana
Shuna Snow – Connie
Lara Sawalha – Dina
Freddie Stabb – Fi
Mariah Louca – Brig
Fanta Barrie – Ellie
Fayez Bakhsh – Man
Writer – Iman Qureshi
Director – Hannah Hauer-King
Set and Costume Designer – Anna Reid
Costume Supervisor – Danielle Levy
Lighting Designer – Zoe Spurr
Sound Designer & Co-Music Director – Nicola Chang
Co-Music Director & Vocal Coach – Victoria Calver
Fight Directors – Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown
Casting Director – Nadine Rennie CDG
Producers – Kitty Wordsworth for Damsel Productions, Ameena Hamid for Soho Theatre
Dates: 5 May – 11 June 2022
Times: 7.30pm (2.30pm matinees)
Prices: From £12
Booking Link: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/the-ministry-of-lesbian-affairs
PRAISE FOR DAMSEL PRODUCTIONS AND IMAN QURESHI’S PREVIOUS WORK
**** The Guardian on The Funeral Director
“a bit of a cracker…Iman Qureshi’s play tackles, with grace and dignity”
“A vivid, vital 70 minutes. Impressive.”
★★★★ Times on Fury (Soho Theatre and Damsel Productions co-production)
“Powerful and horribly persuasive.”
★★★★ Independent on Fury (Soho Theatre and Damsel Productions co-production)
“a stylish and fluid production.”
★★★★ Evening Standard on Fury (Soho Theatre and Damsel Productions co-production)
“It is refreshing to see a show where the entire creative and production team is female, but when the writing, acting and production are this good, this truly is theatre for everybody,”
★★★★ WhatsOnStage on Grotty
For all media enquiries and to reserve a press night seat please contact Diana Whitehead at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 07939 149887
NOTES TO EDITORS
SOHO THEATRE is London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. We pursue creative excellence, harnessing an artistic spirit that is based in our new writing roots, the radical ethos of the fringe and the traditions of punk culture and queer performance. We champion voices that challenge from outside of the mainstream, and sometimes from within it too. We value entertainment, accessibility and enjoy a good show. We are a registered charity and social enterprise and our audiences are diverse in age, background and outlook.
Ordinarily our work plays to live audiences of 250,000 audiences a year in our Dean Street venue, at the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. During our temporary closure due to Covid-19 we re-launched our online platform Soho Theatre On Demand, which hosted the phenomenally successful live recording of Fleabag and released the critically acclaimed Typical and Sunrise. We’ve partnered with Amazon Prime Video (UK) for a three-series deal, bringing existing and new comedy shows to the platform. We are also working towards the opening of an exciting second venue, Soho Theatre Walthamstow, currently slated to open in 2023.
Soho Theatre’s board is chaired by Dame Heather Rabbatts DBE and the company is led by Executive Director Mark Godfrey and Creative Director David Luff. sohotheatre.com | sohotheatreondemand.com | @sohotheatre
KIBONG TANJI – LORI
Kibong Tanji is a British actor/ performer based in London. She made her West End debut by playing the female cover to Arinzé Kene in Misty at Trafalgar Studios in 2018. Recent Theatre credits include: All My Sons (Queens Theatre, Hornchurch and Tour) The Sun, The Moon and The Stars (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Tina the Musical (Aldwych Theatre), Misty (Trafalgar Studios).
Film Credits include: The Lair directed by Neil Marshall due for release in 2022.
Kibong received her training from The BRIT School and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Acting and Musical Theatre from the The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
CLAUDIA JOLLY – ANA
Claudia trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and graduated in 2016. Theatre Credits include: Girl From The North Country, Old Vic and West End, The Butterfly Lion, Chichester Festival Theatre; Importance of Being Earnest, The Watermill. Claudia has worked on several productions for BBC Radio 4. Film and TV Credits include: NW, BBC; On Chesil Beach, BBC Film; Matilda, Working Title; This is Going To Hurt, BBC; Pennyworth, Warner Bros and Endeavour, ITV.
SHUNA SNOW – CONNIE
Shuna trained at The Poor School. She’s worked for the RSC, and extensively in London/UK regional theatre and BBC Radio Drama. Offie nominated Best Actress for her performance of Fay in Rona Munro’s Iron, toured the USA with Shakespeare and an ongoing VO narrator for History Hit TV.
LARA SAWALHA – DINA
Lara is a British/Jordanian actor, graduating from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and is fluent in Arabic. Theatre Credits include: Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere, The Young Vic Theatre which was aired as part of theatre live for BBC2; Oil, the Almeida Theatre; Another World, The National Theatre; Semites, Bunker Theatre and Nahda, Bush Theatre. he has appeared as a semi series regular in Doctors and as a guest star in Casualty both for the BBC.
Lara has voiced multiple radio dramas, video games and audiobooks one of her notable credits include, Cyberpunk 2077; Tumanbay; A Tale of Two Cities, Lullaby and Girls of Riyadh.
FREDDIE STABB – FI
Freddie has over 30 years experience, including: CBeebies (2017), Motabilitys’ first TV advert campaign (2019), ITV’s Stephen (2021) and understudying on The Normal Heart at the National Theatre (2021). She has worked with Graeae on several productions since the 90’s, and Mark Rylance during the Cultural Olympiad (2012)
MARIAH LOUCA – BRIG
Mariah Louca’s theatre credits include Cherry Jezebel (Everyman, Liverpool); The Doctor (Almeida Theatre/ATG/Adelaide Festival); Best Of Enemies (Young Vic); Maryland and Queer Upstairs (Royal Court); Tuesdays At Tesco’s (Southwark Playhouse); All Mod Cons (Lyric Theatre, Belfast); Julius Caesar and Playing For Time (Crucible Theatre); Bumps (Theatre503); The Vagina Monologues (Theatre Delicatessen) and The Interview (The Mono Box/PLAYSTART).
Her television work includes Eastenders, Casualty and Doctors for the BBC. For film, her work includes Re-displacement.
FANTA BARRIE – ELLIE
Fanta Barrie graduated from Rose Bruford in 2018 and went straight into Songlines for High Tide / Edinburgh Festival. She recently played ‘Vic’ in new period comedy Belly Up at the Turbine Theatre. Other Theatre Credits include: The Lovely Bones, The Amber Trap (Theatre 503 Damsel productions) and The Cereal Café (The Other Place).
FAYEZ BAKHSH – MAN
Fayez grew up in Reading, Berkshire to Yemeni parents. As a keen rapper, poet, Martial Artist and illustrator Fayez trained as an actor graduating from Drama Studio in 2014.
TV Credits include the Channel 4, BAFTA nominated mini-series The State; Howard Gordon’s US TV series Tyrant (FX and Sky) and a lead role in BBC drama The Attack.
Theatre credits include Tartuffe at The National Theatre in 2019, Inigo and Twelfth Night at The Globe Theatre in Neuss, Germany. Film & TV credits include: Glow and Darkness; HBO’s forthcoming The Girl Before, Silverpoint due to air in spring of 2022 on the BBC, HULU and other platforms.
IMAN QURESHI – Playwright
Iman Qureshi’s play The Funeral Director won the Papatango Prize in 2018 and premiered at Southwark Playhouse before touring the UK (ETT/Papatango). Iman is currently under commission from the Bush Theatre, English Touring Theatre, the Royal Court where she is a recipient of the Clare McIntrye Bursary, and the Almeida Theatre where she is part of the inaugural Genesis programme. She also has several TV projects in development including with STV/BBC, NBC Universal, Wychwood and ViacomCBS.
HANNAH HAUER-KING – Director
Hannah is a London based theatre director, and Artistic Director and co-founder of Damsel Productions. After moving from the US, she started her London directing career acting as Resident Assistant Director at Soho Theatre in 2014. She now works as a freelance theatre director, and has worked at venues including Southwark Playhouse, Manchester Home, Traverse Theatre, Theatre 503 and Jermyn Street Theatre. Hannah is currently working as an associate on The Wife Of Willesden, at the Kiln Theatre.
Most recent directing work includes: The Funeral Director (Southwark Playhouse & UK Tour 2019), Circle Game (Southwark Playhouse), Fabric (Soho Theatre), Call Me Fury (Hope Theatre) The Amber Trap (Theatre 503), Grotty (Bunker Theatre), Fury (Soho Theatre), The Swell (Hightide Festival), Breathe (Bunker Theatre), Revolt She Said Revolt Again (RCSSD), Clay (Pleasance Theatre), Dry Land (Jermyn Street Theatre). Associate/Assistant work: The Wife Of Willesden (Kiln Theatre), Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Radiant Vermin (Soho Theatre) and Daytona (Theatre Royal Haymarket).
Hannah Hauer-King and Kitty Wordsworth co-founded theatre company Damsel Productions in 2015 to produce its inaugural production Dry Land, by Ruby Rae Spiegel, at Jermyn Street Theatre. Damsel was set up with the key aim of developing and platforming scripts written by women, producing them with all-women creative and production teams, to help address the misrepresentation and lack of representation of women in theatre. Damsel is intersectional in its outlook and drive, and strives to work with diverse teams of women, putting particular focus on the less told aspects of female experiences on stage. Damsel has produced several full-scale productions at theatres including Soho Theatre, Theatre 503, the Bunker Theatre and Jermyn Street Theatre; has produced live comedy and cabaret nights; and festivals including Damsel Develops; London’s first all-women directing festival; and Damsel Outdoors, a festival of commissioned new plays written for the outdoors (Damsel’s answer to the pandemic closing theatre down). www.damselproductions.co.uk Twitter: @DamselProd Instagram: @damselproductions