I’ve never seen plays about people like me on the Australian stage. Writing mine has shown me that a good story connects with everyone.

<span>Photo: China News Service/Getty Images</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/NEU_Xse3UETnrOh5kAb4yQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/.X1Y_JEiEgDVrpWWL5C2Jw –~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/a78178990bc9c6cf782d950bd26f85d5″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/NEU_Xse3UETnrQ-Oh5kAb/4 YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/.X1Y_JEiEgDVrpWWL5C2Jw–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/a78178990bc9c6cf782d950bd26f85d5″/></div>
</div>
</div>
<p><figcaption class=Photo: China News Service/Getty Images

There is a moment in my play where one of the characters Bill is trying to convince the main character Nas to go on vacation with his wife so that she can fall in love with him again.

“Just the two of you,” says Bill.

“Why do you keep saying ‘just you two’? And what does that mean? It would be too quiet. I don’t know if I would like it,” Nas replies.

When I first saw my work in front of a live audience, this line received a lot of reactions from the Desi community I was writing about. I heard murmurs of affirmation and thankfully a lot of laughter too. Leaving as a couple, as we all knew, was a strange concept in a community where family was at the center of everything. In fact, in the past, couples mostly just spent “just the two of them” time on their honeymoon before the kids arrived.

Related: Australia is at a turning point in the diversity conversation. Apologies are no longer enough | shirley le

The realization that her father had never spent much time alone with her mother sends Nas’s daughter, Salima, reeling. “Are you telling me that you and mom have never had time alone as a couple? Is that the reason you are both having problems? Because he was always in the way? Salima she exclaims before having a small existential crisis.

This is a play about different generations of immigrants, the first as Nas and the second as Salima, and their attitudes towards life. But they are also just an average family. And that’s what I wanted to see. Ordinary families like the one I grew up in that faced generational and relationship issues like everyone else, but were also from India or Pakistan.

Mainly I wrote this play because I have never seen plays about people like me on our stages here in Australia.

In fact, the concept of becoming a playwright never occurred to me growing up in this country. Only after I moved to London and saw that playwrights didn’t have to be old, white men, who could look like me, did I consider it as an option.

I had some success with showing my work in UK theaters on major stages such as the Hampstead Theater and the Soho Theatre. But when I got here to Australia what I heard was that the kind of stories I wanted to tell were being relegated to “community theatre,” a label that seemed to have all sorts of connotations, including that the work didn’t guarantee the same level of merit as, let’s say, a show that was being mounted on our main stages.

I was told that community theater was for specific communities, not the general public. It was a statement that really hurt. And it is perhaps the reason why we see so little diversity on our main stages, although perhaps that is slowly changing.

One thing I’ve learned over my many years of writing is that no one knows what the general public wants, they’re just guessing. And when plays for the theater in this country are being programmed primarily by people who come from a similar background, many stories that deserve mainstream attention are being left out when they shouldn’t.

Related: Dances, dresses, marital pressures. Jane Austen was basically Pakistani | Sara Malick

My work is currently being shown because we are doing it independently. Everyone involved in the production does it out of love, as there is little to no money involved. With a cast and crew that is 80% POC, we all know the importance of making shows like ours part of the cultural canon of this country.

As someone who grew up having to put himself in the shoes of countless white characters just to see one aspect of myself portrayed on stage or screen, I can tell you that if you give the audience the chance, they will lose themselves in the story. . In fact, many will even appreciate seeing a slice of life they haven’t seen before.

When I write about a South Asian family, arranged marriages, who have different generational points of view, I am not only highlighting aspects of a community that many consider to be a small minority (when, in fact, Indians now make up the largest migrant group in Australia). m also providing visibility to an important part of the population whose voices need to be heard.

And I can tell you with all my heart that there is nothing like being represented that makes you feel like you belong to a country that you have made home.

When I see audiences with similar cultural backgrounds receiving inside jokes, I feel great joy, not only because I am highlighting a cultural aspect that only we know, but because I am also telling the world: this is who we are.

• Saman Shad is a writer based in Sydney. The Marriage Agency plays Kings Cross KXT until October 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.