Sabina England is filmmaker, theatre artist, poet, performer, dancer, mime, and playwright, who writes, directs, and edits short films. In fact, Sabina wrote and directed Wedding Night, which premiered with a sold-out screening at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. Sabina England embraces life and all of its experiences. This talented, profoundly deaf artist believes that in taking advantage of any opportunities which may come her way, and encourages you to do the same.
AXIS: Tell us a little bit about yourself & your disability?
Sabina: I am a Deaf Indian Muslim filmmaker/poet/performer/playwright. I am profoundly deaf, which is the most profound hearing loss. I cannot hear anything, not even music. I cannot communicate on the phone either. I require closed captioning for any TV show or movie I watch. I also need an ASL interpreter for communication although sometimes I can read lips as long as a person speaks slowly and clearly.
Can you tell us a little bit about your art?
I write, direct, and edit short films. I also perform poetry, dance and mime, using a combination of American Sign Language, elements from classical dances of India, storytelling, music, and voice over. I write poetry and plays, some of which were performed in London, UK. I am inspired by my rich cultural heritage of being both Muslim and Indian, so that's a huge influence on my works. I pretty much do everything: theatre, film, dance, mime, storytelling, poetry, writing, acting, directing, design, etc. (Being a person with a disability, it's always a good idea to be a bit knowledgeable about everything!) Right now, I am working on my deaf ASL Islamic poetry/dance/mime show called "Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life," which is a multimedia solo performance with sign language poetry, dance, mime, slow-moving film footage, music, voice over, and prayers. "Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life" is inspired by traditional South Asian Sufi poetry which celebrates humankind's divine connection with Allah (the Creator) through art, poetry, music, motion, and Mother Earth.
What inspires you to create?
The beauty of Mother Earth inspires me because I'm always blown away by the huge diversity of animals and plants everywhere on our planet. I am inspired by my Islamic faith: Islam is a religion of peace and simplicity. We have no authority figures nor leaders to tell us what to think or how to practice our faith. I am inspired by many cultures, languages, and traditions of the Indian motherland, but also everywhere in the world. I am inspired by other great artists, writers, dancers, and poets who keep creating and performing even when they feel like no one appreciates their works. I am in awe of people (especially marginalized women of color) who are fighting against injustice and speaking out for human rights. I have so much respect for many activists who have been involved in the Ferguson protests.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the arts?
Even if you cannot find a part-time or full-time job in the arts field, you are still an artist no matter what. You can work in a factory or office, and you're still an artist. You can be a stay-at-home parent, and you're still an artist. Even if it takes you many years to achieve success or recognition, you are still an artist and your work still matters. If you don't become successful overnight, it doesn't mean you're not good. Not everyone has the privilege (money, physical ability, and/or connections) to achieve success. Just keep going and always believe in yourself. I know that sounds corny, but I'm being honest with you. And lastly, make sure you take advantage of any opportunity that comes along your way. Get involved with volunteering for an arts event and try to meet new people who work in the arts. You never know if they can help bring you new opportunities in the future.
What is your favorite TV show & why?
This may sound strange but I enjoy watching reality TV during my free time. I observe how people pretend to have real-life storylines when we know they're making up fake storylines to cause drama and get attention. It's fun seeing people trying to pigeonhole themselves into archetypes that one would find in old movies or vaudeville theatre. It's a bit weird. Otherwise, I like watching Elementary because I enjoy the gradual character development of Sherlock Holmes who is a jerk at first, but he is slowly coming out of his shell. I love seeing how Joan Watson (played by Lucy Liu) puts him in his place while also being sympathetic with his emotional issues. Also, I am really excited for the new episodes of The X-Files to come back, I'm obsessed with that show.