Camden, London – A new play set on the mean streets. Three stories filled with revenge, revelation and redemption collide on a fateful night.
The Ends is a bold and emotional story of lives that collide in an unexpected act of violence. Inventively structured as a triptych of overlapping and intersecting narratives, The Ends explores the lives of disparate characters who are catapulted into unforeseen dramatic situations instigated by actions taken decades before.
Written and directed by Hamza Mohsin, The Ends features a cast and crew of emerging, culturally diverse artists from a working class background, the majority of whom have been plucked from workshops at the famous Anna Scher Theatre School.
I caught up with Hamza during rehearsals to get his thoughts on the upcoming show:
Where did the inspiration for The Ends come from?
Hamza: The overall inspiration comes from growing up in London, stories from my friends and acquaintances. I had been attending workshops at Anna Scher‘s acting school for a number of months and as part of a workshop, I came up with the idea. I used the actors in the class and it just had a magic to it. It worked.
Anna’s classes are filled to the brim with undiscovered acting talent and I realised I just had to put something together for them to perform. It took well over a year, many rewrites but once we had the first read through, I could tell we had something special.
Do you relate to any of the characters more than others?
Hamza: As a writer I relate to all my characters, good and bad. There is something of me in every single one of them, no matter how small. They are also amalgamations of aspects of people I know. I enjoy directly referencing friends and family in my plays so those that know me best will get a special kick out of certain turns of phrases or character names.
This play is very personal and at the same time aimed at many different types of audiences. I want to draw new audiences into the theatre who may not have been near a theatre since a school trip if ever as well as theatrical academics that will get my Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter references.
“I am a firm believer that great writing gives every character their own internal life”
This feels like such a relevant play discussing street violence in London, stories from real experiences. Will there ever be a point where this kind of topic becomes a thing of the past?
Hamza: Wherever there are bored young people given very little to do, there will always be the danger of violence. Just look at the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet or the London riots of 2011.
Arguably some the most violent stuff in the play is the language. There were many more disturbing real life stories in earlier drafts of The Ends that I opted to take out because genuinely I did not want the play to become too grim.
I wanted to show another side to the image of the young men on the streets, in sports wear. The guys that at first glance you might have been afraid of weren’t always up to no good -some of them are most thoughtful and intelligent people I have come across. Some of them made childish mistakes that they have continued to pay for in their adult lives.
How important was it to champion emerging creatives and artists for this particular work?
Hamza: There is a lot of airtime given to talk about diversity in the arts as well as social mobility across society, but at present things do seem rather tough. The recent appointment of Kwame Kwei-Armah as the new Artistic Director of The Young Vic is certainly a step in the right direction. Inspired by people like Kwame and Anna, I was lucky to have so many talented people around me who just needed a platform. I decided to give them that platform and work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, rather than put something on that looks like the actors have been plucked once again from central casting.
“It has been an honour to work with these very real, very local people, telling a story which is many ways their own story”
What are your future plans for the work? What would your ideal next steps be?
Hamza: I would love to take the play with the original cast to a bigger platform, perhaps a bigger theatre for a full run. At the very least, I plan on turning it into an independent British film but ultimately this is a piece of theatre that needs to be performed live. Let’s see who comes to see it. If the worst comes to the worst and nothing happens, I will put it in a drawer and write the next thing – but The Ends will rise again, I’m sure.
The Ends plays Etcetera Theatre until 15 October 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.