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"Garage makes me happy no matter what": inspiring words from playwright Sabrina Mahfouz

29 March 2018

It's the summer of 2001 and Nadia, having just been offered a place at university, feels like now is her time to shine. Her new life awaits and the future is full of nothing but hope, ambition and optimism, right?

Well, sort of. Against a soundtrack of garage bangers, Sabrina Mahfouz's play, With A Little Bit Of Luck, chronicles Nadia's journey through that summer as she navigates the highs and the inevitable lows. You'll find yourself swept up in Nadia's story (there's no doubt) but you'll also find yourself bopping along to garage tune after tune, which is exactly the desired effect Sabrina was hoping for...

Sounds epic, right? You can listen to With A Little Bit Of Luck here now.

And, as if that wasn't enough, we've got the lowdown from playwright, poet and performer, Sabrina Mahfouz. From what garage means to her (answer: a lot) to how you could follow in her footsteps, here's everything you need to know about With A Little Bit Of Luck and beyond...

What inspired With A Little Bit Of Luck?

Some of the best music in the world and some of the best times in my life!

I really felt that garage hadn’t been documented anywhere near as much as other UK genres of music
Sabrina Mahfouz

At the time, around five years ago, I really felt that garage hadn’t been documented anywhere near as much as other UK genres of music had and I wanted to be part of changing that.

If we don’t write our history, our reality, then others will do it for us and we won’t like what we see! I was frustrated with the way garage was constantly depicted ‘ironically’, even if it was done with love.

Things have changed now and there is more documentation to be found and that's important and brilliant for those who lived through it and those who want to learn about it.

Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

It’s so many different things: worlds I’ve worked in that I feel haven’t had a huge amount written about them; issues I’m grappling with myself and/or society is grappling with; a chat I overhear; historical figures and amazing people I meet who are willing to share their stories.

How does it feel to bring With A Little Bit Of Luck to life on 1Xtra compared to onstage?

Because music is the heart of the play, it always felt that radio would be a perfect home for it so it’s just felt really exciting to me, but I’m just the writer; it’s Seroca Davis and Martyna Baker [pictured throughout the piece] who might notice the difference, as they’re the ones usually responding to a live audience whooping and dancing in front of them!

But with the ridiculously talented director, Stef O’Driscoll, at the helm, I know she could make it work in any context. She is an absolute legend.

What role does garage play in your life?

Jungle was the first music that made me feel free to be who I was but garage is the music that took me into a ridiculously fun early adulthood; it will always remain a sound that puts a smile on my face and makes me happy no matter what else is happening in life.

The friends I met whilst raving are still some of my closest friends now, my son plays with their kids - it’s a family thing for sure.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a playwright?

I studied English Literature at uni and after a brief career in politics I started to write character-based poems and perform them at open mic nights. Doing that gave me an insight into issues I was interested in and how to keep a story moving in front of an audience.

Write about something you feel nobody else has done in the way you wish they had
Sabrina Mahfouz

But there’s no single path, everybody will have their own way into it. Some practical things could be to watch as much live performance online or anywhere you can; to sign up for as many writer’s groups as you can (most theatres offer free courses for young people); read a lot and find out what styles excite you; write write write and get your mates to read it out so you can hear the words; and find out about opportunities from arts organisations on social media.

The emotional side of it is: write about something you feel nobody else has done in the way you wish they had; you are the person who can do that! Don’t hold back - in style, story, anything.

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