Actress Rasheeda swaps Bridgend for the West End
IT is a renowned role in Asian theatre.
With all the romance, tragedy and heartbreak of Romeo and Juliet, Ishq The Musical: Legend of Heer and Ranjha has a special place on the stage.
Now, an actress from South Wales has taken the lead role of Heer – the equivalent of Juliet – in the show in London’s West End.
Rasheeda Ali, 26, born in Merthyr Tydfil and brought up in Bridgend, is living her dream after years of training in acting school.
Rasheeda said: “The story holds the same place in literature in Asia as Romeo and Juliet does in the West.
“We performed on one of London’s most prominent stages – Sadler’s Wells.
“It was my first time playing a lead role and I was so excited about it.”
As far as Rasheeda is aware, it was the first time the show had been performed in English in the UK.
It was put into production to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.
As Rasheeda is of mixed race, she is really passionate about merging cultures and bringing two very important parts of her life together.
She said: “I often think being mixed race makes it harder for someone to fit into a cultural stereotype.
“For example, I’ve never been to Pakistan but I’ve only ever been to one British wedding.
“So my idea of a typical wedding, for example, is different. But then I was born and bred in Wales.”
Rasheeda was a member of Bridgend Youth Theatre and trained at Gorseinon College Performing Arts sixth form before training professionally at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s drama school, ArtsEd.
It was here that Rasheeda was really able to develop her skills and, afterwards, she bagged herself an agent who helps her get regular auditions.
But at the heart of her passion for acting is a love for old Hollywood movies.
Her mum used to watch old films when she was growing up and she became fond of much-loved classics starring actors such as Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
“I love to work in Wales when I get the opportunity,” added Rasheeda.
“It means I get to spend time with my family and friends.
“But I’ve been involved in some exciting projects elsewhere too. After I graduated I was asked to appear in a few Bollywood films, but I wasn’t trained as a Bollywood dancer so I had to take lessons.
“Since learning the dance I’ve been in about three or four Bollywood films.”
Rasheeda was able to learn a lot about the industry when she filmed on bigger sets.
She said the Bollywood industry is very different to the theatre as, in Asia, the film and music industries are more closely linked.
If she filmed for a movie, she often ended up in a music video because the songs are so well-liked.
Even though Rasheeda’s busy week of performances have come to an end, she hopes Wales will get to see a lot more of her on stage in the future.