WASWASA: A unique immersive multi-displinary experience exploring Islamic spirituality and society
Celebrating creativity in Birmingham as part of 2022 festival
Unique multi-disciplinary theatrical experience from awarding winning Birmingham artist Mohammed Ali - Waswasa his biggest production to-date
Cutting edge and authentic exploration at Islamic Faith
At the Birmingham Hippodrome, 25 August- 03 September 2022
Waswasa – Whispers in Prayer, is one of the ten major commissions for the Birmingham 2022 Festival happening in this Summer. This immersive theatrical experience, by artist Mohammed Ali, will run for ten days at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 25 August – 3 September 2022.
Waswasa – Whispers in Prayer - explores the ritual of Islamic prayer and how the act places itself within a modern, secular society. The show aims to shed light on the true meaning behind the physical act of Islamic prayer, which has long been misunderstood.
Waswasa will be a unique, multi-disciplinary, live theatrical immersive experience combining art, music, movement, and spirituality, placing its audience at the core of the Islamic religion and at the very heart of the story.
The physical act of prayer extends beyond religious spaces and spills over into our everyday worlds. It is even visible in sports arenas with athletes prostrating to the ground or raising hands to the sky in moments of triumph. Waswasa is the Arabic word used to describe distractions from prayer. In these busy, tech-driven times many seek that elusive ‘flow state’ in other ways, whether through the gym, mediation, or yoga, but also fail because life is simply too busy.
Waswasa will draw parallels between the act of personal faith and the quest to achieve that calm. In this age of distraction, a simple act of worship can become a revolutionary act, a time to let go of ego and clear our minds of ‘waswasa’.
The audience will have time to explore an art installation lined with Islamic prayer mats graffitied with writings of dreams, visions and prayers created within the community before entering an intimate theatrical performance featuring music and film further exploring the theme of prayer, the physical act of Islamic prayer, the triumphs, and the struggles. Finally, the audience will have time to pause, reflect or pray and to see up close a replica of the famous Birmingham Qur’an, considered to be one of the world’s oldest manuscripts dating back to the 6th or 7th century.
Through the gathering of different communities coming to Waswasa to experience this unique show, Mohammed Ali together with the team at Soul City Arts hopes to demystify this familiar yet misunderstood physical tradition of Islamic prayer and challenge the audiences’ perception.
Artistic Director of Soul City Arts Mohammed Ali MBE says, “We’re incredibly proud to have been given this opportunity in B2022 to explore the concept of Islamic prayer, something we’ve wanted to do for some time and celebrate our voice in Waswasa, an uplifting cultural experience that welcomes everyone. We hope this immersive multi-disciplinary theatrical performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome will give the audience a window into the Islamic world and in some small way bring communities together. Gratitude goes to the B2022 team led by Martin Green for commissioning and supporting us on this epic project allowing us to tell this story which we hope will inspire, educate, surprise, and entertain our audiences. Thanks also to our partners at the Birmingham Hippodrome, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and Guidhall Live Events, part of Guildhall School of Music & Drama.”
For more further information, press tickets and images please contact:
Borkowski Arts & Ents: +44 (0) 203 176 2700
George Franks / [email protected]
Notes to Editors
Tickets here or contact the Box Office by calling 0844 338 5000
To find out more about Waswasa please watch the video here
Thursday 25 August – Saturday 03 September
Tickets start from £8
Walk Through Experience: £8
Age Guidance: 11+
Running Time: 50 minutes
Max Numbers: 50
Waswasa Community Outreach Programme
Working with academic partners at the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham, the producers are inviting the public to contribute to Waswasa through a series of events, where they will be able to share their thoughts onto graffitied prayer mats. These prayer mats will be an integral part of the experience. These events will include a film screening, a curated discussion and food and refreshments will be provided.
Dates: 01/05/08/15/22 June 2022 Times TBC
About Mohammed Ali MBE: Mohammed Ali is a street artist, using art to share his reflections on the importance of faith, religion, and community. He has done this by fusing street art with Islamic scripts and patterns. His work serves as a bridge, bringing together communities that may divided by culture, faith, and ethnicity. Ali’s complex exploration of challenging social issues through art provides transformative and radical tools to counteract the challenges facing society.
Ali has created immersive theatrical experiences for audiences throughout the world, from the streets of New York, Amsterdam, London, and Melbourne, through to performances in the Vatican.
He is currently a Trustee at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and works strategically across different sectors to embed the arts into our daily lives. He is also an educator and passionate speaker, often advocating on the power of art to heal and grow.
About Soul City Arts: Soul City Arts, an arts organisation established by Mohammed Ali MBE in 2008, brings together artists, activists, academics, and communities. Its work is characterised by its commitment to connecting people through the arts in brilliant form. By celebrating their shared humanity, Soul City Arts seeks to reverse the isolation felt by some communities and thus build pride, civic engagement, and confidence.
Soul City Arts presents issues that are pertinent to all minority communities, whilst being sensitive to the specific of needs of individual communities. Themes of Islamophobia, segregation, poverty, racism, sexism, violence, and classism run throughout much of the organisation’s work – experiences which hold special meaning for some groups, though relevance for all.
Soul City Arts’ trademark involves bringing diverse communities together and using the arts to create platforms for all to speak. They capture the stories and themes reflecting individual and community experiences and engage their public as co-producers and co-authors in this work. Soul City Arts believes that collaboration and representation are key to building stronger, more connected communities.
For more about Soul City Arts and the WASWASA project please press here
About the Partners:
Waswasa is delivered in association with Birmingham Hippodrome, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and Guidhall Live Events, part of Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Students and Academics are engaged in the process of building this show with Mohammed Ali and his Soul City Arts team.
Waswasa is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival, that is a part of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.