Interview: Amrou Al-Kadhi – ‘Professional Unicorn. Queer Iraqi non-binary Brit’
We caught up with Amrou Al-Kadhi aka drag sensation Glamrou to talk about their new show from Quran to Queen at Soho Theatre in 2020 and their book Unicorn.
See what Amrou had to say below…
Tell us about your show just announced at Soho Theatre. What should an audience expect?
I love dangerous, biting comedy, and this show won’t shy away from tough questions but in a humorous, hopefully uplifting way. It’s a drag show about my life-long battle with Islam, and the show takes the form of 5 Islamic prayers (as stipulated in the Quran).
Each prayer is a different love song to Allah – from an ‘I love you’ song and a ‘Breaking Up’ Song, to a ‘Let’s Open our Relationship’ song etc… – it’s kind of like a musical-comedy rom-com between me and Allah, exploring questions about merging your faith with your queer identity, queer shame, rejection, conflicting identities, and the spiritual power of drag.
Our editor recently read your insightful book on finding your way as a Muslim person and drag queen, Unicorn: Memoirs of a Muslim Drag Queen.
What was it like exposing yourself so and what do you hope the book will achieve?
Aw thanks for reading UNICORN! It was obviously very nerve-wracking, but also incredibly cathartic. My life has been very difficult in many ways, and being able to put it all down on a page somehow released me from so many of the negative experiences.
The writing process was kind of an act of self-forgiveness, if not of my family as well. As a young queer person of colour, I literally had no-one I could see myself in. I felt so desperately alone and scared – I really just hope that this book can provide hope for young queer people of colour struggling to find themselves.
What or who inspires you to write and perform?
My Queer, Trans, People of Colour communities – they give me so much hope and fight.
You’ve studied at some of the UK’s most prestigious education institutions including Eton and Cambridge. What would you like to see on a curriculum for today’s Generation Z young people?
An honest account of colonialism! The way British History is taught is undeniably from a nationalist perspective, and colonialism is painted as this triumph of expedition.
It also involved the decimation of indigenous communities, and brought tough British criminal laws into the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia, which still remain. So much of the curriculum forces people of colour to aspire to Britishness, and this is damaging to our racial identities. We need a proper decolonised curriculum.
What advice would you give someone from an underrepresented background who wants to go into performing arts?
Don’t try and emulate the Establishment. It was the second I let go of what other people wanted that I managed to find some success through just saying what I honestly thought and performing in a way that was honest to my cultural heritage.
What’s your favourite London haunt?
The Chateau in Camberwell is quickly becoming my favourite queer space – so inclusive, diverse, and uplifting! And amazing performances too!
Have you read Unicorn by Amrou Al-Kahdi or seen them live? Let us know in a comment below…
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.