GROWING up in Pollokshields as a Pakistani immigrant of middle class parents, Lubna Kerr’s first experience of the stage was playing a ‘wee girl called Audrey’ at Brownies.

Glasgow Times: Lubna with her family

“I was eight years old and my parents had sent me to Brownies as a way to integrate with the local community,” she explains.

“Brown Owl said afterwards I’d done a ‘splendid job’, telling my mum and dad: ‘She knew everyone else’s lines as well as her own.’”

Back then, the lack of diversity on stage and in the audience didn’t bother Lubna. But it does now.

Glasgow Times: Lubna (pointing her finger) with her siblings

“As part of my new play Tickbox, funded by Creative Scotland, I held workshops for local diverse communities,” she explains. “I asked them why they thought this was and they told me that lack of representation on stage – and the portrayal of Muslim families in a negative light – didn’t encourage them to attend the theatre.

“Who wants to be in audience where a play is making you feel bad about your religion or culture?”

Lubna, who is bringing Tickbox to Glasgow’s Tramway this week after a sell-out run in Edinburgh, adds: “Stories written by white people about people of colour in which the author’s information is taken from mainstream media are insulting.


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“It leads to storylines such as the one in the hit television drama, Bodyguard, in which a woman in a hijab is the baddie. This not only leads to division within communities, but also between communities.

“Where are all the everyday Pakistani stories? They are just like everyday British stories, except with a better tan….”

Tickbox is based on Lubna’s own experiences, and is told in a mix of Scots, English and Urdu. Acclaimed Scottish writer and director Johnny McKnight directs and the script was developed by one of the country’s top playwrights, Douglas Maxwell.

Lubna, who also works as a pharmacist in GP practice, began her career in acting and comedy in 2010 and since then has appeared in TV shows such as Scot Squad and Two Doors Down, and the stage production of Still Game. She takes on multiple roles in the play, including that of her late mother and her younger self.

“Tickbox will resonate with anyone who has moved to a foreign country, from one society to another, as people have done throughout history,” she says.

“For others who haven’t had that experience, it will give them an insight into the prejudice and discrimination encountered by many new Scots. It’s also about mothers and daughters.

“Now, more than ever, we’re all aware of migration. It’s become a huge issue as people leave their home country in search of a better life.”

Lubna’s father, Dr Ihsan Khand, won a place to do a Chemistry PhD at Strathclyde University so the family moved from Pakistan to Glasgow.

“My mum, Mumtaz Khand, was from a very middle-class background and, like me, was often typecast in the stereotypical role of the downtrodden Asian woman,” says Lubna.

“She coped admirably, and often with humour. She went to Glasgow University to study Philosophy, Religious Studies and Arabic. Many Muslim women in Glasgow today will remember her for her voluntary work, delivering education to women in their own homes. My mum was my role model - she was just the best.”

Lubna believes more could be done to ensure representation on stage – and within audiences - of people of colour.

“Pakistani communities want to see shows, but they need to be on topics they can relate to,” she says. “More engagement with local ethnic communities is required. People of colour are often portrayed in drama as terrorists, and when it comes to women forced marriage is a popular plot line. I wanted to represent the more ordinary, yet remarkable experiences, of families like mine.”