Rabiah Hussain is one of the three writers who has received a fellowship worth £10,000 by the Royal Court Theatre and Kudos. Other winners included Lettie Precious and Ross Willis. This is the first year that the fellowships, which support three writers already establishing a career in order to focus purely on their writing for six months, have been in place.
“I feel lucky that I received not just money for the next six months but also time and space to be able to write and learn more about the theatre and TV Industry,” Rabiah said.
Growing up in Newham, East London, Rabiah is passionate about discussions surrounding race, gender among other political subjects. Her debut play, 'Spun' that premiered at the Arcola Theatre in July 2018, explored the similar concepts through the friendship of Sahar and Aisha. But how was the application different for the South-Asian writer and poet this time?
“What was interesting this time was that there were questions about the kind of barriers we face in the creative industry.
“I have been trying to get my foot in the door for quite a long time now, coming from a working class background and neither did I know anyone in the creative industry nor did I know how to navigate it,” she revealed.
Rabiah's short plays and monologues have been part of programmes with Theatre Absolute, The Bunker Theatre and RADA. She was a storyteller for Battersea Arts Centre’s 'London Migrant Stories' festival and contributed to their film project 'What Keeps You Awake at Night'. In 2018, Rabiah was also part of the BBC Drama Room programme and completed her writing programmes with Tamasha theatre, Hachette Publishing, Kali Theatre among others.
There continues to remain reservations about establishing a career in the creative industry among Asian households even today. The usual belief is that it may not lead to a stable career and neither generate a good income. However, Rabiah says, “I have been lucky in receiving complete parental and family support. And while I was writing, I was also working various jobs. But my parents were always aware of my love for writing and now that they know it is paying off, and they are very proud of me.”
With the current fellowship, Rabiah is now looking to work on her next play which would delve into the intersectionality of racism and classism through multiple stories. She is looking to focus more on relationships and how we communicate and connect with each other.
“It will focus on class in particular because I don't think we talk about it as much as racism has been on the forefront of issues. Now, whether that is to do with white working class people or especially with people of colour coming from the working class background,” she said.