BushGreen Interviews Somalia Seaton

BushGreen caught up with Somalia Seaton, a writer on attachment with the Bush as part of our Talawa Writers Programme

Tell us a bit about yourself – who you are, where you’ve come from and how you got into writing.

I’m a Nigerian and Jamaican Londoner. Born and raised in South East London. I am tall, addicted to chocolate covered Brazil nuts, quite partial to a pair of converses and I hate seeing people spit on the street.  Went to drama school, trained as a theatre practitioner, graduated worked steadily as an actress, mainly for stage…fell out of love with the industry…snot cried about it to one of my mentors, Rikki Beadle Blair…told him a story about a girl that had touched my spirit whilst working as a teaching assistant….he challenged me to write a monologue inspired by the experience…I did, I performed it at his birthday party/show….he challenged me further to develop that monologue into a play…I did and it ended up being selected for Angelic Tales, Stratford East and Team Angelica’s new writing festival. That play, Crowning Glory that explored Western European ideals of beauty and its effects on women was inspired by a 5 year old black girl that had cried her eyes out because I had drawn her princess like her, brown skin with beautiful braids – she had cried because she thought the princess I had drawn in her image was “ugly” and she wanted me to draw a “real” princess that looked like the blonde haired blue eyed girl stood next to her. The following year it ran its full run at Stratford East to passionate and vocal audiences from all walks of life, but largely to audiences that do not frequent the theatre. Soooo I got into writing unintentionally….but here I am.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I’m inspired by real life conversations I overhear. Interactions between everyday people. I am most moved by listening and watching real people tell stories… I am also inspired by subject matters that make us uncomfortable, things that we need to talk about so we can evoke change…the kind of conversations that you shouldn’t really have at a party…I’m probably at a party somewhere right now having that conversation. Yeah I’m that person.

What do you want your writing to say to an audience? 

That what makes you a bit ‘strange’ is actually your currency. That there’s really crap things happening in the world, but we are powerful enough to spark change……I want people to leave having watched my work to feel like they have been called to action and are ready!

You have a lot of strings in your bow being a writer, actor and artistic director of No Ball Games Allowed (nbga) – are any of them more important to you than the rest? Which would you like to pursue in the future?  

Recently I miss acting…but at the moment I feel more drawn towards telling stories and growing my company. But ultimately my need for acting, writing, starting No ball games all came from the same place…my need for social change, otherwise what’s the point? In the future, I want NBGA to have produced several shows globally whilst creating training and mentoring opportunities for young people- bridging the gap between professional artist and the communities their work serves. I’ll always be writing….and if the right projects are there, I’m sure I’ll be acting too.

What does being part of the Bush/ Talawa scheme mean to you? What are you hoping to get out of it?

This scheme has come at the right time for me as an artist. I’m developing my voice at the moment and really refining what it is I want to say in my work, so having such established support at this stage in my career is crucial and very exciting. Bring on the next year!