Meet the mentors: Sara Shaarawi

For their latest project, Press 2 For Help, the Citizens Theatre Young Co. have been working with professional playwrights to develop a series of theatrical shorts. The varied pieces they've created all share the common thread of exploring mental health issues faced by young people. 

In this blog series we're chatting to the writing mentors on the project and learning more about their creative process. For our final installment, we sat down with Sara Shaarawi:

Writing mentor Sara Shaarawi

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your own journey into writing - was it something you always wanted to do? 

It wasn’t actually. When I studied theatre I pretty much trained in every aspect of making theatre other than writing. It was always too scary and I thought I was terrible at it. I became a writer after moving to Scotland, I had finished my studies and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and a bunch of playwrights I had worked with kept saying that I should be a writer so I started writing. It was absolutely terrifying but I loved it! 

What's it been like collaborating with the Young Co on the Press 2 For Help project?

It was an absolute joy! There was a real urge to create something collectively which became really challenging as most of us had to self isolate at various points, but through zoom and determination we managed to create a short play together anyway. It was also a big learning experience for me, it really challenged me to think through my own process as a writer and why I make the dramaturgical decisions that I make.

What did you enjoy most about working with the group?

I loved seeing everyone support one another through the whole process. There was a lot of kindness and generosity in the room from brainstorming and discussing ideas to offering feedback to the actual writing of the piece.  

Did you use any particular processes or tools when working with Young Co on developing the work?

It was a mix of writing exercises that I find useful, talking through subject matter we find interesting and once writing began, it was about asking and answering questions that came up. The exercises do generate useful material sometimes, but for me it’s mostly about training a muscle and gaining confidence in the fact that you are able to write and tell a story. 

Do you feel Covid has impacted or changed the way you create new work?

Absolutely. It can massively slow things down (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but you’re also factoring in that anything can happen last minute, I feel like we’re always ready with some sort of contingency. With this process it was really about creating a piece that everyone felt they played a part in making, keeping that collective spirit was very important and I feel everyone dealt with it beautifully. 

What can audiences expect from Press 2 For Help?

It’s a poignant piece that I think a lot of people will relate to. It’s got a lot of heart and I’d say it’s also an uplifting piece, even though it’s about a heavy subject.

The Young Co. are showcasing their dramatic shorts on the 25th & 26th March. Book your tickets via our website and join us for a thought-provoking and entertaining evening of new writing.

Photos by Jassy Earl.