Waswasa - Whispers in Prayer

n association with Birmingham Hippodrome, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and Guildhall Live Events, part of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

An immersive theatrical experience by artist Mohammed Ali that explores the act of Islamic prayer and what that means in a modern, secular society.


As the daily distractions of modern society consume us, many of us seek that elusive ‘flow state’ or ‘being in the zone’ whether it be through yoga, sports, the arts or worship.

The physical act of prayer now extends beyond religious spaces to places such as parks and city-squares; it spills over into our everyday worlds. It is even visible in sports arenas with athletes prostrating to the ground or raising hands to the sky in moments of triumph. Can we draw parallels between an act of personal faith and our quest to achieve a higher state of focus, or is it one and the same?

The audience was invited to walk through a combination of live performance, art installation and projected film zones that disrupt the conventions of theatre, placing them at the very heart of the story. A replica of the famous Birmingham Qur’an, considered to be one of the world’s oldest, was integrated into the show as an exhibit.

Mohammed Ali together with his Soul City Arts team aimed to demystify this familiar yet misunderstood tradition of Islamic prayer through an extraordinary multi-disciplinary show that  challenged perceptions.

Mohammed Ali is an award-winning street-artist who has travelled the world with his murals, performances and installations from New York to Bangladesh. He now brings his biggest production to-date to his home city of Birmingham.  He is the founder and artistic director of Soul City Arts.


Waswasa brought together a visual art experience together with projected film and live performance into the Birmingham Hippodrome and told a unique story about prayer and worship in a secular society.

There were three key components to the show:

Prayer Tunnel

An installation featuring graffitied islamic prayer mats created within the community.

Theatrical Performance

A theatrical performance exploring the physical act of Islamic prayer, the triumphs and the struggles.

Qur'an Exhibit

An opportunity to view a reproduction of Birmingham's world famous Qur'an.

Waswasa an intimate show with each performance accommodating for 50 people at a time.

Media Coverage of Waswasa

Waswasa receives critical acclaim from audiences and reviewers

Waswasa Programme

View the Waswasa Programme digital booklet

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Meet the Waswasa Actors

 Two performers joined us for Waswasa in single actor shows across 9 days:
Hamza Ali and Mustafa Chaudhry, both physical theatre and movement-based actors mesmerized audiences with their performances.

Meet the Actors.

“How does the nation perceive the act of Islamic prayer? It’s something I’ve been wanting to explore for some time… the physical and often very visible, public form of worship. It’s polarised society and created divides we know exist but don’t wish to speak of, whether it’s in the playground, in the gym or the workplace. This is, by far, the biggest show I’ll have done to-date.  This one is serious.”

Mohammed Ali (Artistic Director)

Filming for Waswasa at the Guildhall School of Music Drama, using an XR film setup.  Both our performers were filmed against created 3D environments for the show: