Sabrina Mahfouz — poet, playwright and activist — is part of an all-women team currently developing a new opera for the Royal Opera House, due to open in 2019.
Adapted from an Egyptian novel, Woman at Point Zero is about a prostitute who has fled abuse and ends up killing a man.
Recently the team invited composers in to offer advice. “They were almost all men because opera is so male-dominated and one said: ‘Shouldn’t there be more sexiness?’” she laughs. “Why? It’s expected in TV and advertising but why on earth in the high arts does it need to be sexy?”
Mahfouz, 34, is a polymath. You can currently hear her on Radio 4 on Mondays in Power Lines, a documentary about spoken-word poetry, and see her play for children, Zerraffa Giraffa, at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington — she explores immigration and colonialism using a life-sized giraffe puppet.