What are the themes of your play?
Two major themes in Butterfly are migration and sacrifice. It explores how parents lay their lives down to make better ones for their children. The play also looks into the effects of migration on children and young adults and how they cope with being the other in a foreign place. It explores other themes like institutional racism in schools and universities, immigration systems, education, friendship, mother-daughter relationships and what it means to ‘contribute’ to British society as an immigrant.
I think most importantly Butterfly asks the question of whether the benefits of migrating to the UK outweigh its negative consequences: racism, trauma and losing home.
Why did you write it and why now?
I wrote this play partly because I wanted to write something that I know. As a witness to the difficulties of migration and its after-effects I was able to see two perspectives: how migration affected the parents who journeyed and how it affected the children they carried with them. I wanted to explore whether and how these experiences intersect and the conflicts that arise because of this.
The growing hostility towards immigrants in the UK made me feel like this story was urgent and needed to be written now. People who see migrants as a threat to white Britain, its people, its culture and its history are becoming braver and louder. I wrote this play in response to this. I wanted to explore the things that drive us to migrate in the first place because I believe that these things are important, especially in remembering why not to apologise for existing as an immigrant.
Which playwrights are you influenced by and why?
It is hard to pin down the playwrights that influence the style and form of my work because these are influenced in little ways by everything I see and read. I am inspired by writers whose work makes me want to keep writing and to write differently: Winsome Pinnock, Michaela Coel, Inua Ellams, Arinze Kene, Danai Gurira, Theresa Ikoko and the works of many other Black writers that are writing now.
What do you want to achieve as a playwright?
I want to be brave enough to say what I feel needs to be said. I also want to write stories that move people in different ways, by evoking joy and allowing people like me to see themselves and their stories represented.