BITESIZE FESTIVAL 2024
"I think festivals like BITESIZE are incredibly important because they provide an opportunity for artists to take risks in a proper performance setting."
February 2, 2024
Saff’s best friend is being slandered online. Meanwhile, Oli’s being blackmailed by a mysterious stalker. They’re both about to learn that vengeance is far wilder and bloodier than they bargained for. Winner of the Peter Shaffer Award, Dickless is a gripping exploration of gender identity and societal roles, both chosen and imposed.
Hello Aisha, thank you for talking to TNC. How does it feel to be at the 2024 BITESIZE Festival with your show Dickless?
Thanks for having us! It feels great to be at BITESIZE. Riverside Studios is such a vibrant environment, there’s always a lot of excitement in the air. And it’s very energising to kick off the new year with a production; it kind of sets an ambitious pace for the months ahead.
Dickless has been running at the festival for a few days now, what was opening night like?
Opening night was fantastic. Of course, there are always pre-show jitters but the excitement was palpable, the audience was vibing and the performance went really well.
How important are festivals like BITESIZE in creating this unique platform for theatre and comedy?
I think festivals like BITESIZE are incredibly important because they provide an opportunity for artists to take risks in a proper performance setting. Not to knock scratch nights at all, but it’s an important stepping stone for emerging writers and performers to be able to present their work outside of their circle of friends, family and acquaintances, and get to test that material in front of absolute strangers. It’s the fastest way to learn and grow as an artist.
What are you hoping to take away from the experience of being part of BITESIZE Festival?
It’s been thrilling to soak up the ambiance and history of Riverside; walking past Woody Harrelson’s, Michael Sheen’s and Andy Serkis’ dressing room has been a highlight. The venue has been a wonderfully welcoming environment, and the audiences have been exceptional.
Can you tell me a little bit about your show, how did Dickless come about?
I began writing Dickless in my final year at NYU. It was sort of a response to a personal frustration: I felt very unsure of my next steps as a soon-to-be graduate and wondered where the blind confidence I’d had as a teenager had gone. The character of Saff, and the first half of the play, came from an attempt to recreate that no-hold-barred, no-f*cks-given persona.
"Any solo show is a challenge, but Dickless is this unique mix of pitch-black comedy and tragic drama, and finding someone who can dance between genres with fluency is tricky."
When a show is running are you always tweaking it?
Yes, every production comes with its own approach— working with a new director and performer(s), there will inevitably be line changes, different accent choices and an emphasis on different aspects of the story. By and large, though, the script has remained mostly the same.
What has been the biggest challenges you faced bringing Dickless to the stage?
It’s a tough role for a performer! Any solo show is a challenge, but Dickless is this unique mix of pitch-black comedy and tragic drama, and finding someone who can dance between genres with fluency is tricky.
Where did your passion for theatre come from?
I would say I’ve always been interested in storytelling in various formats. As a kid, I roped my siblings into elaborate Barbie/Sylvanian Family/Harry Potter-themed soap operas, wrote and recorded audio plays on my aunt’s old dictaphone, and wrote endless short stories, cartoons and poems. I think I always got a kick out of seeing other people inhabit something that came from my imagination.
How best would you describe your show in 3 words?
In-Yer-Face. Or maybe #SorryNotSorry.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer anyone wanting to get into theatre and what has been the best advice you’ve been given as you started your own journey?
I would say, you don’t need any reason beyond “I want to tell this story” to start doing it. I think there’s often a mysticism around making art; you need to have a “calling”, some sort of unique talent that justifies your efforts. You don’t. You need persistence, a willingness to learn and healthy dose of self-confidence, because no one else will be able to champion your ideas as well as you.
And finally, what do you hope you audiences will take away from Dickless?
Much of my writing involves finding humour in tragedy, and Dickless is no exception. I hope audiences identify with the ambiguities, connect with these hilariously terrible characters and enjoy the (wild) ride.