My Festival: Lauren Booth

"I find life funny, so using humour to look at this comes naturally. Plus this is the only show to feature ‘Billy Connolly’ in a hijab. Surely!"

Lauren Booth. Picture: Contributed
Lauren Booth. Picture: Contributed

I only have time to see one show in Edinburgh. Why should I go to yours?

Wake up and travel with me down four decades. Visiting 13 characters who impacted my life, we laugh and cry across the social and faith landscape of four countries all while wondering at the joys and quirks of life. Accidentally Muslim delves into why a mainstream, feminist journalist would accept the West’s least favourite faith, Islam. I see people of all ages and backgrounds nodding along as I face my former, hidden, prejudice against Asians, Arabs and Muslims. I find life funny, so using humour to look at this comes naturally. Plus this is the only show to feature ‘Billy Connolly’ in a hijab. Surely!

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Now I think of it, I’ve got time to see two. What else should I definitely go to?Anguis at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Sheila Atim is a huge talent.

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What are the best and worst things that have happened to you at the Edinburgh festival?Looking at the diversity of my audience is the best thing for me. Each day my show hosts women who have never (never!) set foot in a theatre before, despite living in Edinburgh. After the show I sit and chat outside with numbers of lovely people who stay behind. We’ve created a space to critically consider questions about the meaning of life – from a faith and a political perspective.Hearing young women say they feel inspired and validated by seeing themselves positively represented on stage is everything.The worst thing? Rushing around gives me the ideal excuse to repeat every day ‘Oh I’ll just grab some ‘dirty fries’ to save time’. I don’t really have an excuse for eating salted caramel ice cream in the rain but my waistline is seriously expanding due to these addictions.

Please describe where you’re living this month.A 1900s tenement building in Leith. The stairwell is pretty much as it was a hundred years ago – except for the drug paraphernalia. A chilling reminder of hardship past and present. The flat is beautiful inside. Very Norwegian.

What’s your favourite place in the city and why?I haven’t visited anywhere yet! I’ve got my hiking boots with me, so next week I might be able to tell you about the stunning green spaces and hills around Edinburgh. For now though, the Central Mosque is my secret haven of peace. Love the food at the Mosque Kitchen. Plus they let me nap in the exhibition hall after my show, something I seriously need.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?My amazing team, who are all but carrying me on their shoulders most days!

Where can I find you at 9am, 9pm and 2am?9am: Kitchen table working on my podcasts and vlogs; 9pm: Kitchen table speaking to my daughter on Skype – she’s an intern in Palestine; 2am: Asleep.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.I’ve spent time in the Western Desert of Egypt, the Australian Jungle and I’ve bungee-jumped from a helicopter. No need for thrill seeking. Got the T-shirt!

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?Thank God for another day to get things right!

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?Pray.

Thanks for the interview! I’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?City Restaurant for a cup of tea. Better with their incredible fish and chips though. Thanks for the invite!

Accidentally Muslim, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Until 26 August