Author(s): Tanika Gupta
Company: Royal Shakespeare Company
It is 1887, the year Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee.
Sixteen-year-old Rani Das, ayah (nursemaid) to an English family arrives at Tilbury docks after a long voyage from India, to start a new life in Britain.
On the boat, Rani befriends a lascar (sailor), an Indian politician and a royal servant destined to serve the Queen. Full of hopes and dreams of what lies ahead, they each embark on an extraordinary journey.
Will their expectations come true or will they have to forge a different path in their new county?
The play spans 13 years over the ‘Golden Era’ of Empire, blending the experiences of Indian ayahs and lascars who worked on the ships carrying trade goods, alongside the first Indian politician to be elected as a Member of Parliament. This epic story reveals how socially diverse the Asian presence was in nineteenth century Britain.
Directed by Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director of Tamasha, Tanika Gupta’s The Empress goes from the rugged gangways of Tilbury docks to the grandeur of Queen Victoria’s Palace, whilst unveiling the long and embedded culture of British Asian history.