Tara Theatre's Disproportionately Affected

Published: 6 June 2021
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Tara Theatre - Beyond Lockdown Credit: Tara Theatre
Abdul Shayek Credit: Tara Theatre
Tara Theatre Credit: Tara Theatre

Tara Theatre, as the rebranded Tara Arts will now be known, emerges from lockdown with a season of work put together by new artistic director, Abdul Shayek.

Shayek, who has been in post since August last year (when he spoke to the BTG podcast), has the firm intent to present work that tackles the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the theatre sector, taking the 40+year old company back to its activist roots.

This will include the creation of a community of artists with the company's work reaching far beyond its south London home to the UK's South Asian diaspora.

Shayek's inaugural season includes twelve new monologues commissioned from, amongst others, Hanif Kureishi, and winner of Theatre Uncut Political Playwrighting Award, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Final Farewell, and an outdoor audio piece devised by Shayek and written by Sudha Bhuchar focused on those lost to COVID, whilst indoors schools community project Beyond Lockdown starts the season (on 10 June) with a look at the aspirations of young people.

Shayek said, “Tara Theatre will be a catalyst and agent for change within the UK theatre landscape, addressing the widespread lack of diversity and inclusivity and changing our sector. Our work will explore the complexities of our world through a South Asian lens, championing contemporary South Asian voices and artists, identifying new narratives, new ideas and new forms and offering a more equitable and representative space.”

A series of initiatives will run alongside the performance programme. These will look at the challenges facing freelancers in the sector with a particular focus on those of South Asian heritage, creating a support structure and a network for South Asian theatre professionals, and continuing the curated panel discussions which have so far covered topics such as bias in casting and mental health and South Asian communities.