Jaisal Marmion on writing and starring in Boy in Da Korma

Photo: Jack Sain

Tupac never died. He was reincarnated as a half-Indian, half-Irish boy called Liam on the rural South-West Coast of Ireland – so goes the story in Jaisal Marmion’s new play which officially opened at Jermyn Street Theatre’s Footprints Festival last night.

Ahead of opening, Ben Grant told us that “as director I’ve sought to curate an atmosphere where the audience feel invited into the story, while also finding the best way to collaborate with the creative team to produce a vivid visual and aural aesthetic.” Having attended opening night, we can confirm that Marmion and Grant have succeeded in doing just that.

We caught up with Marmion to find out how he has drawn on his own family history and the importance of music in the play.

Q&A with Jaisal Marmion

What can you tell us about Boy In Da Korma?

Boy In Da Korma is a play with music. The story of Liam, a seventeen year old Irish-Indian boy growing up in West Cork, who dreams of escaping his small town and becoming a rapper. Also – he believes that he is the reincarnation of Tupac Shakur.

How have you approached the production?

As the writer and performer I’ve tried to draw on aspects of my own life and family history to create a fictional coming of age story about mixed-race identity, racism and cultural appropriation, to write original rap music that hopefully serves the story and creates a fun night out at the theatre.

How has music been incorporated into the play, and how important was that?

Music is a big influence on Liam and so the music of his heroes – Tupac, Biggie and Dizzee Rascal – plays a big part in the play. The script quotes and riffs on lyrics by lots of different rappers while there’s also Liam’s original rap music which helps tell his story and give us a greater insight into his psyche.

What is it like to be taking this play about mixed-race identity set in Ireland and debuting it in the heart of London?

It’s really exciting for both of us. We’re both mixed-race with South-Asian and Irish heritage, so the opportunity to bring to the stage an aspect of the South-Asian diaspora experience that isn’t often seen right in the heart of London’s West End feels very special.

What’s it like to be part of Footprints Festival?

Being part of Footprints Festival has been amazing so far. The whole team at Jermyn Street have been incredibly supportive in the development of the show and us as artists, while our brilliant creative team have been such a joy to work with and have come up with some really exciting stuff that we can’t wait to share with you.

Boy In Da Korma is at Jermyn Street Theatre’s Footprints Festival until 26 January. Footprints Festival runs until 10 February.

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