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Preview: Combustion at South Shields Customs House


by Asif Khan
South Shields Customs House
Thursday 6th July 2017

A writer hailed as ‘one to watch’ is hoping to challenge racial and religious stereotypes and misconceptions as he brings his debut play to The Customs House.

Combustion, by Asif Khan, is a comic satire on the issues facing young British Muslims today.

It makes its penultimate stop of a national tour at the South Shields theatre on Thursday 6thJuly, before finishing up at the Bradford Literature Festival.

It deals with some important and dramatic contemporary issues and explores them in the context of gender, faith and ethnicity, from different contrasting perspectives.

Set in Bradford during Ramadan, the dramatic tension in Combustion is centred around the effect on families and communities of sexual grooming.

As a group of racists plan to march through the city, latching on to the latest grooming scandal, mechanic Shaz (Beruce Khan) desperately tries to keep his garage business running smoothly so he can marry well.

Meanwhile, his sister, Samina (Shireen Farkhoy) is determined to make her voice heard.

Bradford-born actor and writer Khan trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and was included in the BBC’s New Talent Hotlist 2017.

He formed the theatre company AIK Productions in 2015 to produce, new, high quality theatre specialising in stories and voices from minority backgrounds.

He said: “As a British Muslim, I’ve found my voice under-represented. I believe this voice to be the voice of most British Muslims in this country. Who feel as though they’re tarred with the same brush as the ‘bad’ Muslims, shown frequently on our screens and in our newspapers.  But also those battling against the challenges in our own communities, about how we should tackle the problems we are now faced with. As an artist, drama is my tool to communicate. I hope Combustion will communicate how I and many others feel about being British and Muslim today.”

Asif Khan’s play is a comedy, but it does not minimise the importance of the dramatic effect of grooming and racial abuse.
He added: “I hope it entertains the audience and makes them laugh, but also breaks stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims. I hope that Muslim audiences can identify with the characters. I've not tried to shy away from anything. Some of it is quite hard hitting.  It hopefully represents the good and the bad. Most importantly, it's the truth of what I feel and see. It's from the heart and that's all I can bring.”

AIK Productions is touring Combustion nationally in association with London-based theatre company Tara Arts, supported by Arts Council England and Philip and Christine Carne (The Carne Trust).

Director Nona Shepphard said: “Asif Khan’s play is a much needed insight into a world which is largely unknown to those who are not part of or closely related to it.

“It raises issues that are complicated, difficult, and in need of greater exposure, knowledge and understanding; Asif’s writing confronts these issues directly with humour, empathy and grace.”

Combustion comes to The Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, on Thursday, July 6, at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £16, or £13 for Friends of The Customs House. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at

The production includes adult themes and strong language and the age guidance is 14+.

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