Hassan Govia is a new player in theatreland. He launched Unshaded Arts last year and produced and staged his first play Boujie, which made postive waves. Govia explains why he decided to set up a theatre company and the importance of creating a platform for inclusive and universal stories.
Unshaded Arts is a newly established theatre company co-founded by me, Cristal Cole and Rwodzi in response to a lack of mainstream narratives that feature marginalised voices at the centre.
We believe that sustainable change in the arts is better achieved when underrepresented characters are given more clout, rather than having a tokenistic presence in theatrical productions.
One example is our play Boujie where entertainment blogger Devin hosts a housewarming party at his luxury London apartment, only to be met with accusations that his newfound prosperity has made him too ‘boujie’, illustrating how this status has impacted on his closest relationships.
As I have encountered more obstacles for being working class as opposed to being a person of colour, it was natural to use social class as a point of conflict in Boujie.
Devin experiences internal and external conflicts because of his opinions about class, and how his sudden change of lifestyle alienates those who know him best. Despite the seriousness of the topic, I also wanted to write a play that was lively and fun, featuring empowered characters whose sources of tension were widely relatable.
The inspiration for Devin and his friends stemmed from my own professional circle of friends and our various social gatherings where (when we’re not putting the world to rights) our varying career successes and struggles frequently become the topic of discussion.
After completing the first few drafts of the script, I had the opportunity to stage a test performance of Boujie in June 2017, which was met with an encouraging response from the audience, particularly for the play’s freshness and entertainment value. And once Unshaded Arts was established last year, we found a home at the Drayton Arms Theatre.
Our most recent production of the play attracted some four star reviews, which praised the relevance of the subject matter, the strength of the writing, the vibrant cast and the complexity of the characters. Many of the reviews also recognise the potential of Unshaded Arts as a theatre company, which is very rewarding.
Now we are keen to revive Boujie on a bigger stage. Beyond that, we intend to expand our audience by staging more high quality productions to reflect our mission. We are hopeful that this will allow us to cultivate the kind of change we want to see within British theatre.
About the Author
Hassan Govia graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BA in English and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts with an MA in Acting. He is a co-founder of Unshaded Arts, a theatre company established in 2018, which focuses on producing new plays that shine a light on universal stories driven by marginalised voices. Boujie is his first play.