Theatre: Interview with She Wears Scented Rose director Yasir Senna

She Wears Scented Rose is a nail-biting, thriller of a play which tells the story of Mark, a happily married family man, who becomes the victim of a car-jacking which leaves him in hospital fighting for his life. It appears a straight forward case of a robbery which has gone wrong, but is there more to the crime than meets the eye?  We interview writer-director Yasir Senna about the production which runs 9-20 Oct at Theatro Technis. 

Production photo

Can you enlighten our readers about your background beyond theatre?

I am just an ordinary bloke from London. I love sports, films, history and music. I have always had a passion for acting and writing but I never went to drama school or learned how to write. I am a chartered surveyor by profession and I have my own consultancy business.

How did you get into theatre? What triggered your first steps into this area of creativity?

I am going to give you a very strange answer. I  never chose theatre and film, theatre and film chose me. I have always loved film and acting but more importantly I love stories. Listening, recounting and collecting stories is something I was born to do. Also, I have always been a guy who is always on the outside of a group. This is useful because it means I can study people, group dynamics and behaviour – which helps with the writing.

I have also been fortunate enough to meet some really interesting characters. So a combination of collecting  stories, meeting interesting characters, a furtive imagination and living in inner  London in the 80s and 90s provided me with plenty of ammunition to tell a tale. All I needed was a medium through which to tell my tale.

Initially I wrote for film, but then after a break to pursue business interests, I decided to give acting a go. I was in a play called, “Cabride”, where I played the lead and I realised this is a medium I could write for. Theatre was relatively cheap, easy and there was a market for spec scripts. So I started writing for theatre. Basically, we all have a story tell and I  am no different. If there was no film, I would write for theatre, if there was no theatre it would be poetry and if no poetry I would draw my story. But by hook or crook I will get my story out there.

Do you have any favourite playwrights, dramatists or writers?

Very rarely do I watch something and think, “Wow! I wish  I had written that!” However, the exception being Jimmy McGovern. I like his style of writing. It’s the perfect mix of humour and drama. I also like Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais but I don’t have any writing heroes as such. My heroes and influences are sports people and actors in the main.

Is She Wears Scented Rose your first play?

She Wears Scented Rose is actually my second play. My first play is Rumble! which is about a woman fighting a disciplinary hearing. It was successfully staged in 2014 and I am looking to stage again next year. It’s based on a true story.

It’s a play full of intriguing twists and insights into personal relationships. What inspired you to write it and how long did it take?

I never look for inspiration to write. I live life and the idea comes to me and the same thing happened with Scented Rose. In August 2013, I went to see a production of, “Autobahn.”  Half way through the second act the idea came to me in a flash. I think the idea was triggered  by the fact there was a vehicle on the stage. Within five seconds in my head I had the beginning and the end.

I started writing the script almost straight away as soon as I got home. When you’re hot, you’re hot. Within a month I had a draft completed. As I was writing I thought Craig Karpel would be ideal for the lead. I had acted with him in Push Up and I knew he could pull it off. Craig has been a massive influence on me as an actor.

Over the next two and a half years, I wrote and rewrote the script constantly. I brought in new ideas, tried different endings, introduced new characters and changed the scene patterns continuously. Basically, I ate, slept and drank the script.

Do any of the characters have traits you recognise in yourself?

I hope not ! Haha. No not really. The character David is the one that’s closest to me. The story is based on two people I know who are like Mark, the main character. I took their personas and created Mark from them. The others were not based on anyone. I created them from scratch.

Was the play well received during its first run?

During the run we got two 3*, two 4* and two 5* reviews which I was pleased with. However the real pleasure came from the audience members reactions’ immediately after the show. The feedback was very positive indeed. One guy said he was on the edge of his seat – you don’t often hear that about a theatre production.

What inspired you to do a rerun of the play?

To be honest, I didn’t want to restage Scented Rose. But a film producer, Rob Craine, saw the show and praised it so highly he suggested I ought to restage it. At the same time one of our reviews had over 1800 hits so we had obviously done something right!

I asked the cast if they wanted to do it again and they all said, “yes”. They didn’t say, “when”, but “yes”. So given this situation, I couldn’t not restage it. I am however glad to do it again.

What are your future plans? Are there any other plays in script stage that you are working on?

My immediate future plan is to rest – I am exhausted! After that I will be writing my next play, which is about a policewoman investigating the disappearance of a woman in the 90s. At the time there is a suspect but he is never caught. Thirty years later, the policewoman, now a sergeant, comes across a man whom she believes could be the person involved in the disappearance of the woman in the 90s – but is he? It’s another thriller. I am also looking to restage my first play, “Rumble!”.

Before we finish I would like to thank my brilliant team of cast and creatives for their support and assistance. They are the reason for the production’s success.

Yasir Senna, writer/director of She Wears Scented Rose. Oct 9-20  Theatro Technis, Camden.


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