Writer Naylah Ahmed on her new play Ready Or Not

Naylah Ahmed, writer of Kali Theatre’s upcoming production Ready Or Not, talks about the themes of loss, guilt and fear. Playing at Arcola from 11 to 29 April 2017.

Sometimes the worst human actions are the result of one moment – a moment we can’t take back, a moment with unimaginable consequences.

Ready Or Not, a new play exploring loss, guilt and the fall out of collateral damage in a world where the rules of engagement transform to suit transient aims and the enemy could be anyone.  The ‘war on terror’ has marched on, leaving countries and peoples ravished and untold numbers of non-combatants killed – untold because they’re uncounted. That civilised nations wage war on countries not at war with them, chasing an elusive enemy (namely, terror), spreading the ideals of democracy, and assigning all resulting uncounted, unnamed deaths to the communal grave marked ‘collateral damage’ astonishes me.  In the 16 years since 9/11, so much has changed, paranoia has grown as the us and them rhetoric gathers pace. Pre-emptive strikes demolishing nations before they’ve enacted what we fear they may enact are rife and democracy seems more a logo than a political reality.

Ready or Not explores these themes in a small domestic setting, with a handful of characters dealing with their own personal battles in the wider context of the current global situation.  The play is set in Pat’s living room. No one wants to be there – and yet no one can leave. Pat, a retired teacher separated from her husband, her son in Afghanistan, is hiding out, burdened by grief, guilt and an unwanted secret.  Yusuf, a young man whose adult life has been lived in the post 9/11 world, is trying to own his faith and engage in democracy by taking an anti-drone petition to the streets, unaware what’s in store when he knocks Pat’s front door. And there’s Holly, a woman who holds clearly to what she knows until it begins to unravel before her eyes.  Secrets have a habit of getting out…