Lubna Kerr is challenging perceptions by bringing her story to EdFringe next month – a story all about living up to expectations as a young person of colour growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s. Tickbox 2 looks to deal with the challenges that Lubna’s family faced with humour and emotion, covering themes from bereavement, to balancing two cultures, and explaining the concept of samosas to her casually racist neighbour. We wanted to get to know the story behind the story, so we sat down with Lubna for a pixelated pint ahead of her arrival in Edinburgh in little over a week.
Catch Tickbox 2 at Pleasance Courtyard – The Green at 17:00 from August 3rd to 27th (not the 16th or 23rd). Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi Lubna! Your new show charts your family’s journey of growing up as a Person of Colour in Scotland. Tell us about what made you to decide to bring your story to the Fringe stage.
Lubna My ethnic heritage is Pakistani and the media paints people from there in a very poor light. I wanted to share a positive story about Pakistani life in Scotland. My parents both left tremendous legacies and I want the world to know about them.
It’s also really important that we have role models for people of colour to get into the Arts. I want to inspire people of any age, any colour, race or orientation, ability, that its never to late to follow your dreams.
I am keen to increased the diversity of people of colour and stories on stage and hence I wanted to share my story.
Jake: The show raises questions about race, perception, and identity. What kind of stories will people hear and what are you hoping they take away from it all?
Lubna: People will hear stories of sadness, joy, success and grief. The play will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. I hope they take away how difficult it was for my parents who were middle class, had perfect English but spoke with an accent, to be accepted in Scotland in the 1960’s. Life was hard as a migrant then and people would use all the words you don’t hear nowadays. Unless you have been subject to discrimination based on the colour of your skin you will not understand what it is like.
I want the audience to get the feeling of what it was like, to be as close to reality as possible. But I want them to also see that with grief comes, compassion, hope and unity.
Jake: You say the show has a kind of dual purpose – engaging with a non-traditional, non-white theatre audience while offering an important story of race and stereotyping to more traditional audiences. Tell us about developing the show, how this purpose drove you along, and what it means in terms of what the audience can expect.
Lubna: I ran workshops with people of colour asking them why they didn’t come to the the theatre. What the barriers were for them? Being from a culture that understands these barriers I wanted to encourage people of colour to come to the play and I would be their guide. Someone they could trust. This was very important.
So I made sure the story was something they could relate to, that they could follow, understand and recognise the narrative.
Hence the show is suitable for the whole family, anyone from the age of 8. Has nothing inappropriate and does not paint immigrants as bad people.
People of colour will understand the play and laugh at things from a whole different way than traditional audiences will. And there will be things that they will laugh together. I want traditional audiences to see that people of colour do go to the Arts, its just that they don’t only want to see plays about forced marriages etc etc.
There will be something about both audiences laughing and sharing moments together which is part of the integration process.
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are a month away?
Lubna: I have been performing at the Fringe since 2016 when I was part of trio of female comedians. Then in 2017 and 2018 I had short runs of my comedy show, before doing full run in 2019 with my comedy show” where are you really really from?
All these shows were part of the Free fringe and I did not lose any money, nor did I make any. However I also got no coverage, no reviews, little media interest and was not considered for any awards. Since 2021 I have been at paid venues, ,lost money but gained reviews and media coverage however that has yet to convert to the West End in London!! It’s an unfair playing field and I am lucky to live in Edinburgh so I can limit some costs.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Lubna: Kefir, blueberries and ginger. Healthy and very tasty.