We sat down with Elham Ehsas who plays Muzamil (Maz) in critically acclaimed The Jungle here at the Young Vic. Elham, who is originally from Afghanistan, moved to the UK aged 10 with his family and is one of a truly global cast of actors, including many from refugee backgrounds, some of whom came through the Calais “Jungle” itself.
1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?
Brave, short-tempered, funny.
2. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?
The range of actors involved and their backgrounds.
3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?
I think it will make audiences more aware of what’s happening in their own back gardens.
4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?
I went to the Calais “Jungle” a few times.
5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?
6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?
Practicing the harmonica.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“When going through hell, keep going.”
8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?
Elon Musk. I’d say – “How’s it going?”
9. What’s your favourite play that you’ve ever seen/read/worked on?
Skellig! I watched it on a school trip when I was really young and had just moved to England and could barely speak English – it was amazing.
10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Milan (Moein Ghobsheh who plays Omid) has a line in the play where he says “Iran will resist too!” and the way he says it always makes me laugh so much.
11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something you’ve never told anyone before.
In Afghanistan, when I was small, I loved the smell of soil when it gets wet (I think there’s a name for this…*), and I always wanted to taste it. So I’d lick the walls (which are made out of mud) to try and get that taste!
The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns on the day.
* Editor’s note: Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek πέτρα petra, meaning “stone”, and ἰχώρ īchōr, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.