Written and performed by Danusia Samal, Busking It, is based on her own personal experiences as a licensed TFL Busker. 

Danusia Samal is an actress, writer, and singer/songwriter with several theatre and television credits.

Commissioned by the Shoreditch Town Hall; Busking It is supported by HighTide, Soho Theatre, RSC and Arts Council England.

This uniquely original production opened at Shoreditch Town Hall on 10 October and runs until 20 October, having recently played at HighTide Festival.

Busking it takes us on an autobiographical, sometimes lonely journey through the London Underground. Blending theatre, spoken word, original music and soul covers, its influences include Nina Simone, Sam Cook and Amy Winehouse.

I asked Danusia why she decided to create the play Busking it?

“I was a busker for ten years and I met a range of people; kind, cruel, brilliant bizarre, all sorts” she explains. “Almost every other day I came back with a story of some unusual interaction. I learned a lot from these experiences.”

She tells me she began to catalog these interactions. “I decided to write them down so I didn’t forget”.

Through her daily experiences, she encountered different types of people. “As a busker, you are the only fixed point in a city that is constantly moving. You are anonymous and so are the commuters who go past.”

She explains “because of that, 3 things tend to happen. One, people totally ignore you, seeing you as an underclass beneath their notice. Two, they see you as a target, and attack, or three, people take it as an opportunity to connect with you.”

She found that busking forced her “to be less judgemental, more accepting of the wide range of people” that might approach her.

“It taught me to open my eyes to the city around me, and the power of music to connect us. I wanted to share these insights” she continue. “The play started as a series of short monologues/poems and people were interested so I decided to try and weave it into a full play.”

I asked her about the challenges she came across while putting the play together?

“Blending music and theatre, when done well, creates some of the most powerful theatrical experiences. But it’s also very hard to do!” she acknowledges.

Her director Guy [Jones] and she were “constantly struggling with the balance of music to text, and how to blend multiple art forms to tell the story clearly” she explains.

“Another challenge is with telling a story that is active and engaging when it’s just one person speaking.  A person who is quite literally stuck in one place, and watching the city go past.

How do you make that character active? It’s been a long road but I’m really proud of what we’ve made and thankful to be working with such a brilliant team of people.”

I asked Danusia, what she would advise a young person that would like to write a play?  

“I’d say make sure it’s something you’re passionate about – because if you’re serious about putting it on it is going to take up a lot of your time!” she advises.

“Be prepared to accept you won’t make something perfect straightaway – that’s what redrafting is for!” she continues. 

“Use every opportunity to improve your work. Writing is normally conceived as a solo endeavour, which is true, but the best plays are a product of a collaboration. Work with someone you trust who can give you feedback and collaborate with you.”

“Also, big up yourself! (I’m bad at this one)” she adds “We all tend to remember our critics and not our cheerleaders. Make a real effort to remember positive feedback too. Oh, and have fun!”

Finally, what does Danusia think the audience will take away from this show?

“Hopefully a unique insight into a busker’s world, but also a sense of optimism that we aren’t alone, and there is still hope that a change has got to come” she concludes.

Directed by Guy Jones; Produced by Emma Shaw.

Composed and performed by Adam Cross and Joe Archer.

Busking it runs from 9 – 20 October 2019 at Shoreditch Town Hall.