Feroze Kamardeen Back On Stage With Grow Up Nana!

Nov 17 2023.

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While many of us are familiar with Feroze Kamardeen – director and playwright extraordinaire, only a few can claim to know Feroze Kamardeen – the actor. And even though Kamardeen himself has been known to have uttered the words that he’s given up acting in favour of directing and writing on a few occasions, luckily for us, the term ‘famous last words’ rings true.

Shedding off a fifteen-year acting hiatus, Grow Up Nana! both written and performed by Kamardeen will be his first performance on stage since 2008. The play, a solo performance by Kamardeen, is about, as he best describes, ‘looking at life from the point of view of a Sri Lankan Muslim’. “But it’s also about me,” he adds “my journey as a playwright and my evolution as a citizen in this country and in my community. It’s about why we do things the way we do.” The play has all the markers of a Kamardeen script– humour, introspection and an element of surprise. “It’s got politics, it’s got religion and it gets personal.” In an interview, we chat with Kamardeen about the upcoming play and delve into more details about Grow Up Nana!

Q YOU MENTIONED GROW UP NANA! IS POLITICAL AND PERSONAL. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? It’s my personal reflections about what I’ve experienced and observed. About our weddings and funerals and our aunty network. It’s about our long love affair with one political party and our short love affair with another! But it’s also about calling out on the things we do and the things we shouldn’t do in the community.

Q AND THE TITLE ‘GROW UP NANA!’? Nana is actually my nickname! At the same time, it’s also the term we use to refer to an older man. A lot of the decisions in our community are taken by older men who are all Nana’s so in part, the title is me, and in part the title is them.

Q GIVEN THE RELIGIOUS CONTENT IN THE PLAY, ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT OFFENDING ANYONE? No, I’m not. I would never poke fun at any religion or faith. I’m very religious myself. A lot of what I have to say is based on my observations and my opinion. It’s nothing contentious and if they disagree with my opinion, that is perfectly fine. But if they disagree with the facts, well, I think that’s problematic.

Q YOU MENTIONED THIS PLAY IS ALSO A LOOK BACK AT YOUR JOURNEY AS A PLAYWRIGHT. Yes, some parts of the play are a trip down memory lane where I am reflecting on my journey as a playwright and all the milestones, like the amazing experience of watching Pusswedilla on stage while sitting right next to Mahinda Rajapakse!

Q WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE AS WELL AS PERFORM THIS PLAY? It’s not a piece anyone else can take on because it's personal. I’m approaching the play from a perspective that I don’t want to say through a performer. I have to say it through me because I wrote it for me, even if I didn’t know that I was when I started writing it two and a half years ago!

Q SO YOU’VE HAD THIS SCRIPT FOR OVER TWO YEARS? WHAT MADE NOW THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE PLAY? In all honesty, this could have been performed earlier this year or we could have done it next year and it will still be relevant and true. But since it’s me and it went through this whole back-and-forth process of ‘should I do it, should I not?’ and ‘I wrote it, but can I perform it?’ over and over again until I finally decided to just do it right before we started production for Julius Caesar: The Musical. Now that I have made up my mind, I have to follow through. My team will make sure of it!

Q IT’S BEEN FIFTEEN YEARS SINCE YOU LAST PERFORMED. WHAT’S IT LIKE STEPPING INTO THE ROLE OF AN ACTOR AGAIN? I have a few directors and producers for this play because obviously, I can’t be both the performer and the director. I haven’t been a performer on stage for quite a while so I had to establish clear boundaries where as a performer, I respect the directions and feedback I get from the directors.

Q YOU’VE PLAYED THE ROLE OF A DIRECTOR FOR SO LONG! IS IT WEIRD TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE DIRECT YOU? It’s so difficult! I mean they all do a great job of it but in true performer style after the second rehearsal, I told the directors that I wish them ill. Nothing serious of course and nothing a quick visit to the emergency room can’t fix, but you know what I mean!

Q WE ARE EXCITED TO SEE YOU BACK ON STAGE. LASTLY, WHAT CAN THE AUDIENCE EXPECT FROM GROW UP NANA? A lot of fun and humour. Nostalgia. Somethings to think about. And about stuff people wouldn’t really know about, the kind that makes them go “Oh, I didn’t know that!”. Grow Up Nana! is written and performed by Feroze Kamardeen. Directed by Sirraj Abdul Hameed and Sashane Perera and Produced by Rikaz Hussain and Ashan Munasinghe.

Box plans and tickets are now available at the Lionel Wendt Theatre. For more information on tickets and Box Plan, visit www.stagelightandmagic.com



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