Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti play to première in Birmingham

Steve Orme

British Sikh playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Elephant is to have its world première at Birmingham REP.

Directed by Lucy Morrison, Elephant tells the story of a family built on untruths, a family whose lives are at odds with their belief system and asks the question whether it is possible truly to forgive and forget.

Elephant is Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s fourth play for the REP. Her first, Behsharam (Shameless), broke box office records at the REP and Soho Theatre in 2001. 

Behzti (Dishonour) was sensationally closed in December 2004. A controversial scene set in a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) included scenes of rape, physical abuse and murder. Some members of the Sikh community found the play deeply offensive to their faith.

The opening night performance was cancelled after violence erupted among protesters gathered around the theatre. Three people were arrested for public order offences. Three police officers were injured.

Behzti went on to win the Susan Smith Blackburn prize for the best play written by a woman in the English language. It then toured France, Belgium and Italy.

Her play Khandan (Family) premièred at the REP in 2014 before transferring to the Royal Court. She is now developing various projects for film and television and also writes regularly for The Archers.

The cast for Elephant includes Sukh Ojla as Vira and Yasmin Wilde as Deesh. They are joined by Ezra Faroque Khan as Barry, Farshid Rokey as Bill and Raagni Sharma as Amy. Designer is Camilla Clarke, sound designer Clive Meldrum and lighting designer Zoe Spurr.

Elephant runs in The Door at the REP from Thursday 15 February until Saturday 3 March. It then tours to venues across the West Midlands until 24 March.