It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions, by Laila Sajir, photo by thevisualspectrum
Current Issue, Volume 13

It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions by Laila Sajir, Introduction by Andrew Goldberg

Introduction to It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions by Laila Sajir

By Andrew Goldberg

Following in the footsteps of actor-writers such as Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) but with a voice distinctly her own, Laila Sajir’s sad and sweet monodrama announces the arrival of an important new voice to the London stage. Premiering as part of the Camden Fringe Festival in the summer of 2022, the production featured the author in the role of Manal, the half-English, half-Moroccan, all confused, female protagonist of the play. Equally alienated from her religious Muslim family on the one hand and the middle-class white girls she goes to school with on the other, Manal exemplifies the challenge of life “on the hyphen” (in the evocative phrase of Gustavo Pérez Firmat). As a slang-loving, sex-positive young woman not fully at home in either of her two different communities, Manal offers a quirky and irreverent voice on topics veering from STDs to selfies to eating disorders to rapper K Koke to the indignities of economic precarity.

Begun during lockdown as a monologue that Sajir could use herself for auditions, the half-hour play introduces us to Manal talking to an unseen boy with whom she has just had sex for the first time, an hour before her family is due to arrive for iftar. By turns aggressive and vulnerable, proud and insecure, wickedly smart and clueless, Manal’s many contradictions only endear her to us more as she unpacks her heart and her heritage to her silent crush. Like its main character, Sajir’s title is self-deprecating and sardonic, but also not entirely accurate… As portrayed by the author in an almost affectless demeanor that could read as straddling boredom or despair, the play was as hilarious as it was heartbreaking. Sajir has added a deeply humane and nuanced portrait to the repertoire of Anglo-Arab roles available to young female actresses.


Andrew Goldberg is a Senior Lecturer at UAL Wimbledon in the Acting and Performance program. He is finishing his Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance at the CUNY Graduate Center.


It’s only funny with stage directions

By Laila Sajir

©Laila Davies Sajir 2022

 

Scene one: ‘An Hour Before’; 60 minutes

 

Manal stares awkwardly.

 

Do you have clap?

Like… Uhmm… Chlamydia..

Just checking because we did just—

 

Oh god.. the flat is so messy

 

Manal Begins Cleaning up her clutter

 

I don’t usually sleep around so…  I like to check.

uhhhh

you don’t look dirty or anything.

 

Manal sniffs the air and smiles.

 

No.

It’s just you’re tall…

And I assume you people just/

 

/Oh my god do—does—do stds and illnesses affect you less? Like because you’re tall? Like there’s more of a surface area to infect. Is that like?

 

PAUSE

 

And also you said you travel a lot— you went France recently.

 

I know someone from France and he said chlamydia is really easy to get there cause everyone’s pretty but when you go London you can see some proper butters people so you’re less likely to get clap.

 

No one wants to sleep with someone who’s ugly…  I mean who they think is ugly but I do agree that London has some really strange looking people.

 

When I was younger I would hold my breath when I saw an ugly person and I’d only breathe when they came out of my peripheral vision, sometimes they even had to leave my thoughts before I breathed. But now like I can’t do that cause I smoke so have to tolerate them.

 

Manal rocks on her toes front to back then nods and proceeds to smile awkwardly.

 

It’s nice you’ve stayed still till the evening… we’ve been going all day.

 

Manal checks watch.

 

My fitbit said we’ve walked 50,000 steps!

 

It’s 8pm…

 

What are you looking for? With me? Like…

It’s just… If you don’t say I will like… probably get obsessed with you…

 

Beat.

 

Zoot?

 

Manal starts rolling some a spliff. She struggles to open the drawer.

 

It’s Ramadan… Iftar is soon. if you know what that means… it’s okay if not, you’re white.

 

My family are coming around in a bit to break fast but you… can stay if you want

 

Awkward teeth smile

 

But you’ll have to like hide under the bed until they’re gone

 

Manal’s eyes pace around the room.

 

Or in the cupboard. They’re Moroccan and They don’t like white people. Especially white men.

 

Have you ever fasted? You should try it, it’s really interesting!

 

Ramadan Is actually the only time my eating disorder can be put to good use…

I know that sounds really bad and Like… I do genuinely celebrate Ramadan for the right reasons… But it’s just…The rest of the year my family like force feed me tagines, so when I do get to fast, I thrive!

I

Love

Ramadan.

 

Awkward smile

 

I’ve actually decided it’s time I try to get rid of my eating disorder… I haven’t fasted for Ramadan in years because of it. For months I’ve been trying to find my way around it.

 

Actually I came to this realisation recently that if the food is undercooked it doesn’t count as bulimia…

 

Manal laughs

 

It’s a step?

 

Manal Sits down and takes her crocs off.

 

Mental health isn’t really a big thing where I’m from in Casablanca, they call it the ‘ White person’s curse’ because apparently only white people have mental health issues. Which makes a lot of sense, look at me.

 

I remember when my dad found out I was on antidepressants he tried to ship me back. He said he wanted me to spend a month in the Atlas Mountains to see how happy Moroccan people are without having to take medication… I mean he’s not wrong, the people I met were very happy but they don’t know who Timothee Chalamet is so I question that.

 

You look a bit like Timothee Chalamet.

 

Manal picks up a peach from her fruit bowl and takes a bite. She stares at it and puts her finger in it.

 

Scene Two- 50 Minutes.

 

I’m trying to stop doing things like this. It feels haram.

I’m actually quite haram… Well taboo. At least—

 

 

One of the taboo… Not very Moroccan things I indulge upon is…

 

Manal pauses hesitating whether she should speak.

 

I like white boys

 

I feel bad when I date white boys. I feel like I’m rebelling. Against my people… Even though I am half white.

 

 

The thing is yeahh…

Are you still listening?

I have dated Moroccans.

 

Beat.

 

Well singular and half.

I have dated a half Moroccan and also a half Libyan.

The Libyan– Well… I have more sexual chemistry with my pillow

and the Moroccan… If the word cunt could be a person It would be him.

 

Manal avoids eye contact with y/n.

 

(He also didn’t like me back)

 

Also I have this theory that Moroccan men are all compulsive liars

 

I do feel bad about it— Like really bad. My ancestors definitely aren’t happy. Imagine going through all that colonisation for your granddaughter to date someone called Jack…

 

So I make it up to them (my ancestors) by being rude to the boys I like.

 

Manal sits down on her mattress, she stares at y/n

 

I’ve noticed I’m especially rude to you,

I think it’s because you’re leng

Like don’t get gassed or anything

I just noticed last night when we were taking

I was like subconsciously ripping into you—

I’m rude

And

I

am

sorry

 

Uhm I actually wrote a list of apologies to you cause I think I might be famous one day so I’m gonna bury this hatchet so I don’t get cancelled.

 

If that’s okay I’ll just read—

 

Manal Backs away awkwardly humming and ruffles through a drawer taking things out until she eventually finds a crumbled bit of paper and stands up. She looks forward and gives the boy a smile followed by a dirty look. The Awkward Silence Plays on. Manal then clears her throat and leans on a side.

 

One- I’m sorry for getting at you for not pronouncing your T when you say the word cunt.

 

Two- I’m sorry you’re cockney— I mean I’m sorry for making jokes about your cockney accent even though they were jokes and actually I don’t really think you should be offended cause if it wasn’t a joke and I didn’t like your accent I would not of got on top.

 

Three- I’m sorry I told you to suck your mum. I don’t usually talk about the dead like that.

 

Four- I’m sorry I accused you of having a working-class fetish, it’s just I know you don’t like to date people with similar tax brackets.

 

Five- I’m sorry for choking you a little bit when you said you don’t like the Twilight Sagas.. Or High School Musical two.

 

Six- I’m sorry I asked you to go for a second round after you told me your sister just had a seizure.

 

Seven- I’m sorry about that time I unadded you on Snapchat when you sent me that selfie… That selfie was butters.

 

Eight- I’m sorry I called universal credit and told them to reduce your payment because you’re doing cash in hand jobs when I know you’re not – My friend saw you walking down Essex Road with a petite blonde girl.

 

Nine- I’m sorry I said that you’re probably the reason the ask Angela service is now in bars. I’m just not used to people giving hickies in the middle of Camden Wetherspoons.

 

Ten- I’m sorry I said you can’t meet my dad, he’s an overprotective Muslim and will kill any boy that goes near me. He also still thinks I’m a Muslim.

 

Beat.

 

 

If my dad found out I wasn’t Muslim he’d disown me… Or kill me. I won’t ever tell him. It’ll break his heart. Only Allah knows what would happen. It’s like one of those scenarios that you won’t know what will happen until it happens but there’s always two likely outcomes.

 

Both of which I’ll end up without a dad.

 

Family is a social construct anyway I guess.

 

Manal starts cutting up some tomatoes.

Scene three – 45 minutes

 

 

I make all of these problematic and rude comments which at the moment feel good…

 

When I was younger I used to have panic attacks at the idea that I could die not making an impact on anyone’s lives and now I’m out here giving people insecurities doing anything and everything to be remembered, I try to be liked but when you carry as much weight as I do (That wasn’t a weight—a fat reference, it was metaphorical). When you carry as much mental weight as I do some point in the journey you just give up, fuck being liked, not everyone has to like you… Right?  My name’s probably like a touchy topic for some people.

 

Manal is emotional… She reaches for some grapes and starts scoffing her mouth.

 

 

It’s like… I am wired to dig. To dig like graves.  There is this one grave that my brain tells me to work the hardest on digging. Every time I socialise with people I dig deeper creating this hole in the ground. This grave not releasing that it’s my own. Remember that TV Show Trapped?

 

I’m the Saboteur.

 

Manal holds up the knife then puts it in a drawer.

 

 

I do wonder at what point does an excuse lose its meaning. I’m poor, I have some issues with my head and I have some issues with myself and my identity… My support circle is my dead cat and I am trying.

I’m trying.

I’m trying to be a better person. To overcome adversity, To not become what everyone thinks I’m going to become.

I’m also trying to not make excuses. Because almost everyone I’m close with or have been close with or probably will one day be close with can’t understand. Can’t empathise. These people… My ‘close people’ are nothing like me. I can tell them my problems but there’s only so much they can say because at the end of the day they’ve never had to worry about where they’re gonna get money to keep the heating on, or what clothes to hide in their bag so they can change to see their friends after seeing their family and not be called a whore for showing their ankles or how to tell their strict Muslim family that they’re not Muslim without the threat of being murdered, beat up or shipped back.

 

 

Manal takes a deep breath

 

CHECK

MY

LIFE

 

CHECK

MY

LIFESTYLE

 

CHECK MY LIFESTYLE THIS LITTLE WHITE CHILD GROWING UP HOOD FORCED TO LIVE HER LIFE WILD.  YEAH I MIGHT SMILE. ON OCCASION BUT LOOK INTO MY EYES AND SEE THE FIRE BLAZING.

 

Manal walks backwards, she is smiling then breaks into a fit of laughter.

She begins dancing

 

K KOKE Fire in the booth ‘Check my lifestyle’ begins playing

 

Manal opens the fridge and gets out a bottle of wine, she pours some into glass and downs it. She pours another glass and dances her way to her bed. She searches for her vape on a messy floor and takes a toke.

 

Scene Four- 37 Minutes 

 

Manal is sat down with her head leaning on wall

 

The other day I was with my friend… Basically we were in this afters with like 10 people and everyone was having a conversation then this one girl was talking about her favourite perfume. And this girl, My ‘friend’ turned around, completely unprovoked and said ‘Manal smells like a council estate’. It was really traumatising because she’s not the first person to comment on my smell.

 

Manal pours and downs a drink

 

It hurts, like physically and mentally. My heart hurts. It made me feel alienated. You know… My life has been going really good lately… Like really, good. The sort of good that you question, the sort of good that makes you worry and wonder if there’s something up.

 

Poverty is my worst mental health issue and now this girl, my friend, has helped solidify my thoughts that no matter how much my life improves, poverty and my past still shines through. It is stuck with me, Like how Kanye has stuck himself to Kim. Or stuck like how sometimes when dogs have sex the man dog’s penis gets attached to the vagina and it can’t be removed for hours so they run around attached together like little Lego pieces that are kinda big and mad hairy.

 

So after this, After the (in mimicking voice)— ‘Manal Smells like council estate’ hhahaha (Posh twat laugh), I was fucking fuming. I went to get my bags to leave and this girl went ‘you can’t be upset because we dress the same’’… Like is she actually dumb?? Social Class doesn’t always have to involve looks. Yeah… most rich girls and poor girls shop in the same charity shops but I do it cause I can’t afford urban outfitters or I don’t know… Sometimes fucking primark, they do it cause they think it’s edgy.

 

It’s about hardship and society! And all of that,

 

Silence

 

Stuff.

 

Do you get what I mean?

She tried to gaslight gatekeeper girlboss her way out of it and said she’s from Hackney to make it any less worse. This girl’s Mum is a  Barista, Barista— I don’t know which one is the right way to say it, I know one is coffee and one is Law, this girls mumzy is a Lawyer barista barista thing. Anyway… So I left, I cried my way home and just sat on my bed. Empty.

 

Manal looks up at y/n, she takes a deep breath

 

I am sick of being poor and used by middle-class people. Used as their token poor friend. It’s like having a token poor friend who gives you a third tit or something.

 

Manal stands up… she walks towards her table and opens a Pringle lid, she proceeds to eat a Pringle.

 

Or like it helps you grow perfectly shaped boobs and small little nipples, nipples that are like not size of a Pringles lid.

 

I AM NOT YOUR TOKEN POOR FRIEND

I am NOT your token poor friend

 

I decided to write it out.  What she said.

 

Manal walks towards her drawer and rustles through to find a piece of paper, she shows it to y/n then turns it around to read it.

Manal is pacing the room.

 

‘Manal smells like cow—

Con

,ca

Crowns

,ssss

Cowsal

Estate’.

 

Manal Looks up. There is a silence.

 

I don’t know how to spell council estate. See—I spelt COWNISIEL’

 

COWNISIEL’

 

Manal Shows how she wrote it on piece of paper

 

Nahhh that’s peak I’m actually like a whole stereotype

A whole self-fulfilling prophecy

You know I don’t have my maths GCSE too. Which I dont think is deep and made absolutely no sense cause I wanted to do art A level which involves no maths. Like nah I’m not going to do that pi equation thing to benefit my paper mache.

 

Manal looks around the room and starts squaring up to the air

Manal kisses her teeth.

 

 

Manal slowly walks back to her spot, she then smells her top.

 

Council… Councill

WHAT THE FUCK DOES A COUNCIL ESTATE EVEN SMELL LIKE

 

Blackout.

 

Scene Five-  Timeless

 

Eau De Parfum

Sexy song plays.

A light focuses on perfume bottle that says Eau De Parfum Du Cownsiel Estate’

 

 

Manal enters dressed in sexy dress, she put on a French accent

 

 

Eau De Parfum Council Estate

UHHH roadmen: Big, little, medium, comes with a vibrating shank

Do you feel the vibration?

Marry ju ana cannabis and a rizla ey

AYO MY YUTE YOU DONT EAT PUM OUM THEN DRAW MY ZOOT

Sniffs

The sexy smell of minas exotic pitbull

Ze smell, ze flavour is melting in my stomach

The glorious smell of well seasoned curry that you can smell everywhere but the kitchen

20 rothman superking

Lung Cancer uhhhh

The floral smell of young boys blossoming and stealing bikes

The zesty smell of Caucasian teenage girls throwing hands at their mother

Little Caucasian girl ‘Mother, mother, you drank my last can of K’

 

Bang

 

Eau De Parfum Council Estate,

 

Manal switches back to her natural accent

 

No Chavs allowed.

 

 

Blackout

 

Scene Six- 30 minuteS

 

Manal is sat at her table fiddling

 

In year 7 I wore a hijab… I’ve never read the Quran, I used it as an excuse to not brush my hair and get money off my dad. If I wanted more money I would sell sallah (Muslim prayer beads) to the edgy white girls on Hampstead Heath, I went school on Hampstead Heath so was really easy to find customers.

Hampstead Heath is a big green park filled with rich edgy Caucasian teenagers doing bare drugs and trying to reenact scenes from skins whilst simultaneously being ‘woke’, so they like… usually. Invite like an Arab or poor person or something to the link up so they feel good about themselves. There’s two main schools on the Heath, a girls’ school and a boys’ school. I went to the girls’ school.

 

Like most girls who went to girls school I developed an eating disorder… Unlike most girls who went to girls school When I developed my first eating disorder I considered fully converting and wearing a niqab… I considered… Instead I just got a gym membership.

 

It’s funny how things come back to food and weight…

 

Last year my cat went missing— Her name is moo.

So when we went looking for her we had to make mooing sounds—which is really easy for my mum cause she’s fat. Like a cow…

 

anyway…  so we were mooing for our cat and putting up posters and I noticed that the size of my cat was on it.

If I went missing and my weight was put on the poster…

I wouldn’t come back.

 

Manal gets defensive.

 

Not because I’m insecure or anything—but it’s just—I’m a cancer and a bit of an attention seeker with a victim complex so if I were to come back, which I would because I’m very reliant on people.. I would be so embarrassed. I have a fat head so I kind of catfish online so people think i look different and I just know my parents would

Put a butters picture up…  Anyway, the point is, if I was a cat I wouldn’t come back because everything revolves around my appearance.

 

I do think I will recover… One day… Like it is actually deep

It’s actually like sad

And draining

And i want to be able to eat in front of people sober

I want to eat in front of boys

I want to be able to fast for Ramadan without continuing the fast for the rest of the year

I want to be able to wear tight clothes without wanting to die

I want to be able to diet safely

Diet for just my health and no other reason

I want to be able to be called fat and not get so fucking triggered

It is so draining

I will recover

One day I’ll not have an eating disorder

 

Scene Seven- 21 minutes

 

 

Manal eats

 

I find it hard to understand who I am. I feel like I am an Arab or Berber, but like I’m white and half of my family are white and most of my problems are ‘first world’. Which is a terrible saying by the way… First world don’t fucking exist. Anyway… I act like all of my Arab family. I feel strong emotions towards inequality and whenever I meet someone from my dad‘s country I feel at home, like they’re family – even though a lot of them just want to marry me.. Bit weird cause some of them are related to me but understandable cause I’m peng

 

 

But I also sometimes feel really connected to my white side… I love egg sandwiches. But then I don’t feel like I’m white or English enough, I can’t relate to most of my white friends – most of my white friends Don’t have to worry about whether they will be denied a job just from their name, all of my white friends didn’t grow up with people making terrorist jokes to them. Most of my white friends can just brush their hair and leave the house – when I have to brush my hair it has to be wet and if I brush it dry I look like Hagrid, I love Hagrid but I don’t want to look like him. Most of my white friends can cry till their face hurts to their parents and get a hug, all I get told is to read the Quran and cover my hair. A lot of my white friends get uncomfortable when they see an Arab or Amazigh on public transport but when I see them I see my family, I sit closer to feel at home.

 

 

I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.  I’m not Amazigh or Arab enough to hang out with my Moroccan friends and family, but I’m not white enough to relate to my white friends. I think all of my siblings have picked sides and I feel this pressure but I don’t even know what one I would pick.

 

I do want to feel like I belong and I do want to pick a side but instead I feel like if I pick it’s the end, the end of something… Which is really strange cause I feel like I have nothing and for it to be the end of something I have to have like something but also its really sad because my subconscious, the little people in my head must think that I have more than nothing. They’re sad at the thought of me picking and denying one of my halfs so there must be something there, Surely I can’t only have nothing.

 

 

Sometimes I feel really— like… alone— it’s like I go through all these struggles like eating and living and because no one is like me… no one can understand.

 

AND actually I think no one cares

I think no one cares which is why I am rude. I am rude to protect myself. I think my rudeness is… valid.

 

 

I make these jokes

to distract—

which do work because I am really funny. But even when I open up it’s like no one cares.

When people like me I always assume they have an ulterior motive. And I know no one cares about me even a little bit- like. You- you’re listening to me right now but I know when you go home you’re gonna not message me again, a few weeks on, I’m going to have an itchy vagina and get a chlamydia test and have to take antibiotics to get rid of your travelling std. This is not the sisterhood of the travelling fucking pants! And when I send you an anonymous email to let you know someone you’ve slept with has contracted clap and that you need to tell your past partners because you’re the one that gave it. you’re going to ignore it and post another selfie on instagram. Which wasn’t even that peng. And I bet you know you gave me clap but actually you’re just a dirty sket and i think I hate you.  I think I should stop seeing men like you… Or men at all. Boys… Let’s be honest, you’re all boys. But I definitely won’t do that because I want to be loved. Why can’t you love me? Why can’t you show me that you like me so I can stop spending my nights making dream scenarios of you being amazing and showing me that you like me? Do you like me? Or do you love me? I don’t know man… it seems like you just use me for sex which is mad cause I’m not even good. At sex. Like I’d understand if you wanted to use me for crossword clues but.. sex. Why can’t you love me? All I think about is you. I am so blindsided by my emotions that I can’t tell if someone likes me back. I can’t just accept the unknown. After we first met it took 12 hours for you to message me. That bothered me so much. It took you 12 hours to message me and in that time I had already listened to 2 podcasts on how to get over someone you never dated, posted (and deleted) two Instagram posts, dyed my hair and read half of a Sally Rooney novel.

Anyway… I’m not

We’re not—

 

Manal is evidently stressed, pacing around the room and hyperventilating.

She stares at the fridge, gets some snacks out and starts eating (SCOFFING).

 

(With her mouth full) We aren’t even that good at sex with each other so if and when you do give me an std it’s going to be all for nothing

 

 

Walks to phone whilst crying and takes pouting selfie.

 

Scene Eight- 17 minutes

 

 

I barely fit into any community and if anyone verbalises that I don’t fit in I can cancel them. I love gaslighting people<3 Either way it leaves me isolated…

 

Manal eats.

 

I think if I wore a hijab maybe I would fit into the Maghrebi community more.

 

Manal notices that y/n does not understand what she just said.

 

The Maghreb is North Africa.

 

Manal smiles awkwardly.

 

I… yeah… Sorry I just assumed you wouldn’t know what that means.. Which was correct anyway… So I take back that apology, You’re welcome for being educated.

 

Anyway, back to me and the Hijab… I have a really fat head so whenever I wear a hijab I look like a whole continent.

 

I did try to be more white and straighten my hair when I was younger but straighteners became like crack to me and I got a bit addicted so had to stop. I never really felt like I was enough growing up because I was so miscellaneous. No one looked like me. When I was younger I didn’t even realise I was mixed race.

 

When we went airport my dad always got stopped but I didn’t ever assume that I was

 

Whispers ‘ethnic’.

 

I just thought my dad was a terrorist.

 

 

Because I didn’t associate or even entertain the thought… Or fact. That I am mixed I completely blocked that part out of me. I focussed my energies on other things like making hate Instagram accounts for the people who bullied me.  I actually still have one of my old diary entries from when I didn’t realise I was ethnic…

 

Manal Clears chest and picks up old book.

 

February 25th 2013

 

Dear diary

 

Today was weird because I had an argument with Lily about how she stole my pen and then she threatened to batter me but I think that’s okay because the worst thing that could happen is she kills me and if she kills me then she would go to prison and maybe finally meet her dad. I told the school nurse about Sadias nit problem but she did nothing! Now I understand why dad wants me to wear a hijab. Also, in cheerleading I picked up this really heavy year 7 and I felt like crying but I didn’t because I don’t wanna give someone an eating disorder. I’m really proud of myself

 

 

P.S. I think I am a vampire

 

Love Manal

 

 

Manal sits on her bed. She is silent.

 

Scene Nine-  11 Minutes

 

 

I’m a gullible person. When I was 10 my sister convinced me she wrote a song for R. Kelly, only caught the lie out when I was like 18… After I watched that documentary. She copied and pasted the lyrics of ‘the world’s greatest’ onto her Nintendo and got me to sing the… I believed her cause it was on her Nintendo and I didn’t know it was possible to copy and paste on Nintendo. I believe most things as a truth. Which is really unfortunate because of my Moroccan family, like I said earlier—compulsive liars.

Have you watched the film called Penelope? It’s about this girl with a pigs nose. The first time I watched it was with my strict Muslim dad. He convinced me that I would have a pig nose like her if I ate pork. I was traumatised… Because of that I became a sort of primary school extremist. A bit like ISIS but obviously I’m white… so… WISIS!

 

Manal drops something on ground then looks up

 

I would walk in the canteen and make gagging sounds at the sight of other kids eating their ham sandwiches. That was until I turned 14 and tried bacon for the first time… I I got obsessed… had it every day for like two years, I think that’s why I’m fat now..

 

Manal picks up a packet of crisps and eats

 

BUT ITS LIKE I’m not just gullible I’m actually quite dumb… slow.

 

When I lived with my family, my brother was once… on the toilet and he needed a toilet roll so I went to the shop and came back with milk.

 

I found out the ice age was a real historical event when I was 19.

 

Once I convinced myself that everyone has 8 grandparents and got upset that I only knew of four.

 

Once our microwave wasn’t spinning so my mum told me to turn some pizza around half way through, instead I turned it upside down and gave her an upside down pizza with cheese melted to the plate.

 

I thought AD stood for after dinosaurs until recently…

 

Scene Ten-  9 Minutes

 

Manal puts kettle on

 

In my family the final iftar is usually really big but this year it’s just my sister and cousins because basically—

 

what happened was

Basically yeahhhh

I like—I didn’t take my antidepressants for two weeks which put me in a state

 

So I tried to get my uncle deported.

 

I had one of those fake arguments in my head and forgot to separate reality from what’s in my head and convinced myself he called me fat.

 

So I got immigration on him… Fortunately he has a green card cause he married so nothing happened.

 

I was on a zum call with my therapist and she said to me that there’s an actual diagnosis for it— it’s called fantasy prone personality and comes especially to people who had imaginary friends growing up. I used to have bareee.

I’m on my meds now don’t worry—anyway, even if I wasn’t on meds and did that again, where would i get you deported to? Croydon?..

 

So yeah… This year only a few of my family members have agreed to come to mine to let me host. I was gonna make some mad Maghrebi dish but my universal credit money hasn’t come in yet so I’m improvising.

 

Gets out pot noodles and a box of salad.

 

Caucasian salad which is basically normal salad but no dressing

And Noodles

I’m like a walking laxative so if I have anything other than this sort of stuff I will shit myself

Smiles awkwardly.

 

Doorbell rings.

 

Walks to cupboard and opens door.

Signals to boy to get in the cupboard.

 

‘ off you pop’

 

End.


When reading plays, I crave relating to characters, I am an actress who auditioned for drama school for four years and struggled finding monologues that I could connect with. It is hard to find MENA translated plays, our stories are often on the bottom shelf. In fact there aren’t any plays sharing stories of mixed raced MENA women in western society. I wrote ‘It’s only funny with stage directions’ to introduce people to a new Maghrebi character in hopes of sharing a very relevant story with important questions. The play offers people who go through similar things something to connect with, to feel less alone.
Laila Sajir

Arab Stages
Volume 13 (Fall 2022)
©2022 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

Founders: Marvin Carlson and Frank Hentschker

Editor-in-Chief: Marvin Carlson

Editorial and Advisory Board: Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Dina Amin, Khalid Amine, Dalia Basiouny, Katherine Donovan, Masud Hamdan, Sameh Hanna, Rolf C. Hemke, Katherine Hennessey, Areeg Ibrahim, Jamil Khoury, Dominika Laster, Margaret Litvin, Rebekah Maggor, Safi Mahfouz, Robert Myers, Michael Malek Naijar, Hala Nassar, George Potter, Juan Recondo, Nada Saab, Asaad Al-Saleh, Torange Yeghiazarian, Edward Ziter.

Managing Editors: Melissa Flower Gladney and Juhyun Woo

 

Table of Contents:

Playing the Street: Syrian Musicians in Istanbul by Jonathan H. Shannon

It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions by Laila Sajir, Introduction by Andrew Goldberg

Hotter Than Egypt by Yussef El Guindi, directed by John Langs, reviewed by Michael Malek Najjar

English by Sanaz Toossi, directed by Knud Adams, reviewed by Marvin Carlson

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Hassan Hajiyah, reviewed by Katherine Hennessey

Wish You Were Here and First Down reviewed by Renate Mattar

Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, directed by Robert Schuster, reviewed by Marvin Carlson

Drowning in Cairo by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh, directed by Sahar Assaf, reviewer by Samer Al-Saber

Arab and Middle Eastern Productions at the Avignon 2022 Festival by Philipa Wehle and Marvin Carlson

Review of Stories Under Occupation and Other Plays from Palestine edited by Samer Al-Saber and Gary M. English, reviewed by Zeina Salame

Review of Shakespeare on the Arabian Peninsula written by Katherine Hennessey, reviewed by George Potter

Review of Middle Eastern American Theatre: Communities, Cultures and Artists written by Michael Malek Najjar, reviewed by Robert Myers

css.php
Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar