We bring together artists and audiences of different faiths and secular affiliations....


....to harness and mobilise the inclusive energy of shared story in order to connect hearts and foster greater intercultural and interfaith dialogue, understanding and engagement between Muslim communities and the wider world.

Over the past 21 years, Khayaal has developed a strong reputation as the first dedicated producer of professional English language theatre inspired by Muslim world culture and heritage. Khayaal is forging a new genre and brand of cross-cultural theatre whose formula of wisdom and humour has won it popular and critical acclaim nationally and internationally.



  • To celebrate and contribute the rich aesthetic, artistic and literary traditions of the Muslim world to mainstream popular culture;

  • To develop new audiences for the performing arts within Muslim communities and new audiences for Muslim literature, art and culture in wider society;

  • To promote inter-cultural dialogue, engagement and understanding by demonstrating reconciliation between East and West, the traditional and the modern, and Muslims and people of other faiths and traditions;
  • To assist in developing cultural capital and currency for Muslim communities that will facilitate greater and more inclusive socio-cultural stakeholding and integration and challenge extremism and Islamophobia.

Company Directors

Luqman Ali: Artistic Director 

Luqman initially trained in the sciences of Islam and the languages (Arabic, Persian and Urdu) and cultures of the Middle East and the Sub-continent and spent a decade working for publishing houses in the USA and the UK.

In 1997, Luqman co-founded Khayaal, the first professional theatre company of its kind offering audiences a fascinating experience of classic Muslim world culture through contemporary stagecraft. He adapted, co-directed and produced Khayaal’s award-winning debut production, Conference of the Birds, in 1998 which was described by Time Out as ‘a pleasure’ and ‘a refreshing burst of visual creativity’. He went on to pioneer the theatrical interpretation of the tales of Jalaluddin Rumi and Fariduddin Attar producing numerous theatrical shorts including Four Mystics and a Merchant, Bad Beard Day, Between the Devil & Me and Tattoos in Qazvin. In 2004, he broadened the scope of his work adapting traditional tales from right across the Muslim world in Tales from Muslim Lands which included Peony Garden on Nanshan Mountain, Bling Bling Blind, Incey Witty Spider and Man Take Thy Flight.

Luqman’s latest works are Sun & Wind, a spiritual reflection on extremism and Hearts & Minds, a theatre-in-education play for young people exploring issues of identity, citizenship and extremism. Since 2008, Hearts & Minds has reached over 20,000 mainly young people in schools and colleges across England and has also been performed in the USA. Luqman is currently writing a play exploring the intersection of Britain and Islam in the story of coffee. Luqman is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Concordia Forum.

Eleanor Martin: Associate Director 

Eleanor obtained a BA Hons. in Drama & English Literature prior to training as a professional actor at Mountview Theatre School. She went on to work in theatre, film and television in Britain and abroad including parts in popular television drama series. Eleanor is also a theatre-in-education specialist with 25 years of experience delivering training in drama to adults and children nationally and internationally.

As a founding member of Khayaal, Eleanor has researched, produced, devised, directed, and performed for the Company since its inception. She co-directed and performed in the Conference of the Birds, Khayaal’s award winning debut production and has since played a pivotal role in all of Khayaal’s productions.  For four years Eleanor toured Khayaal’s one woman play, Sun & Wind, about which BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme said ‘the play makes use of powerful writing and the extraordinary ability of the actress to convey the highs and lows of a woman struggling to reconcile her own pain with the need to convey truth.’ She most recently devised and delivered bespoke workshops for the British Museum’s critically acclaimed Hajj Exhibition as well as for Shakespeare’s Globe, Living Islam Festival and Goldsmiths University.

John Habib Dunne: Associate Director  

John began working as a professional music composer on graduating with music from University College, Dublin, in 1983. In 1984 he was a founder of the award-winning Dublin theatre company The Passion Machine, writing original music for 15 of their new plays. He was awarded a national theatre award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Irish Theatre’ in 1987 and by the early 90’s had worked in all the major Dublin theatre venues, including the National (Abbey) Theatre.

He went on to compose and direct music for theatre, television and film internationally through the remainder of the ‘80s and the ‘90s working especially in the US, UK and Ireland winning a BAFTA children’s television award and numerous awards for theatre. He later returned to academia and graduated in 1997 with an MA in ethnomusicology from Limerick University. From 2005 to 2008 John worked as Programme Leader of the BA (hons) in Popular Music at Northumbria University in Newcastle before joining Khayaal as an associate director.

He is particularly interested in applying Islamic principles to the creative practices available to us in modern society - music, theatre, film, writing, and the visual arts, creativity and spiritual development.

Board of Directors

Rehana Mughal 

Haider Naqvi

Fahim Qureshi 

Galib Virani 


Dr. Peter Clark

Prof. Nabil Matar

Lord McKenzie of Luton

Mr. Rory Stewart OBE FRSL MP

Staff and Volunteers

Kauthar Ali

Mohammed Ali

Yusef Ali

Moriam Grillo

Maryam Hussain

Ladan Razeghi

Abbas Shah

“The wonderful play we have just enjoyed, based on the wisdom of Jalaluddin Rumi, should remind us that it was the Sufis - the living spirit of the Islamic tradition - who preached God's mercy, His gentleness and beauty. The Sufi texts deliver the message of 'Ihsan' or 'doing what is beautiful', the antithesis of the message of hate and intolerance spread by terrorists. I suggest that we could all, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and even atheists, return to those texts with profit and humility.” HRH Prince Charles on 'Four Mystics and a Merchant' 2002

“Khayaal Theatre Company brought a colourful and creative dimension to our annual conference, distinctive from and yet complementary to our other sessions. Their high-calibre performance brought the stories to life, engaging our audience with them in a new way, while the post-show conversation offered a valuable opportunity to explore the role of the arts in interfaith and intercultural encounter.” Presence & Engagement, Church of England on Christian-Muslim Storytelling 2018

“I am writing to thank you for asking me to host last week’s performance of ‘Hearts and Minds’ at Westminster Central Hall. I thoroughly enjoyed the production and felt that it offered a powerful insight into what it means to be Muslim in Britain today ...

... Art can be a real force for change and can provide opportunities to tackle really difficult issues. Through your work, Khayaal Theatre is facilitating these important discussions and reaching out to a wide range of people. I am really pleased that we were able to support you to do this and I wish you every success. I am particularly looking forward to seeing some of the other plays that you are currently developing!” Sadiq Khan on Hearts & Minds 2009 (formerly MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, now London Mayor)

“A triumph! Foot-stomping joy from beginning to end!” Tom King

“Front line stuff!” Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens

“The performance is unlike anything I have seen, a new experience.” Anon aged 14, Pontefract

“Khayaal Theatre Company is to be applauded for emphasising the progressive, humanistic and tolerant aspects of Islamic culture that are, shamefully, rarely presented in the mass media.” Tom Mellen, The Morning Star on ‘Tales from Muslim Lands’

“Khayaal remind us that the oral tradition is alive and kicking, and that these ancient stories can still show us how to live.” Lyn Gardner, the Guardian on ‘Tales from Muslim Lands’

“… These principles combine to produce a moving and humorous play …The play is careful in its approach to depicting the hearts and minds of young people: each character is complex and untypical … an imaginative response to a complex issue of pressing importance.” Dr Jenny Hughes, Senior Lecturer in Applied Drama on ‘Hearts & Minds’ in Performance in a Time of Terror, Manchester University Press 2012

“The service was very good and delivered to schedule. … It is difficult to suggest changes to Khayaal’s service. We would simply encourage them to continue with the high quality, engaging and important work that they are doing.” Nicholas Badcott, British Museum on the package of performances and drama based workshops that we contributed to the critically acclaimed Hajj Exhibition 2012.

“Thanks for showing us the human face of Islam!” Colin Hall, Head of Performing Arts, Luton Sixth Form College



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Key Clients & Partners:

Key Clients and Partners: