University of Exeter Press

British South Asian Theatres

A Documented History (with accompanying DVD)

    • 280 Pages

    The book includes a complimentary DVD providing an album of rare and previously unpublished items from private collections: historical documents, programmes, designs, photographs, and clips from recordings of rehearsals and productions.

    British South Asian companies have formed one of the most significant features of theatre throughout the world in the last thirty years.  Drawing on archive material and an extensive series of personal interviews, this exciting new book reverses the neglect of this vital element in the history of contemporary theatre – the vibrant presence of South Asians in theatre in Britain.

    British South Asian Theatre provides a detailed picture of the activity of twelve remarkable theatre companies and one major arts centre, including Tara Arts, Tamasha, Kali, Rasa and Rifco, making use of a wide range of new interviews with the practitioners involved and extensive research in the archives of those companies, it also contains a survey of British based South Asian language theatres by Chandrika Patel.

    This is a major contribution to the understanding of diasporic arts through one of the most impressive movements of its kind in the world.

    Drawing on archive material and a series of personal interviews, this exciting new book reverses the neglect of this vital element in the history of contemporary theatre – the vibrant presence of South Asians in theatre in Britain.

    ‘This work is particularly vital in relation to those theatres, operating in the 1970s and 80s that had been previously neglected’
    ‘…it is immensely useful to see the work of the better-documented Tara Arts alongside other early initiatives’
    ‘…it is inspiring to see a vital history retrieved from memory and archives’ (Unfinished Histories, November 2012)

    ‘These two books do all of us interested in the evolution of British theatre a valuable service’
    ‘These two books are complementary, accessible, rigorous and an exciting read.’
    ‘the editors and contributors have succeeded in bringing the uninterrupted history of South Asian theatre in this country, in all its multifaceted glory, into the light.’ (Hassan Mahamdallie, Theatre Notebook, Volume 67(2), 2013)

    British South Asian Theatres offers an important step in the process of collecting and assessing the crucial work of Asian diasporic theatre companies in Britain.’
    ‘Scholars and students of British theatre will be interested in the wealth of material this book offers, but for added context should examine it with the companion essay collection close to hand.’ (Amber Fatima Riaz, Theatre Survey, 55.1, 2014)


    1. British Asian Theatre: the Long Road to Now, and the Barriers in-between, Naseem Khan

    2. Images on Stage: A Historical Survey of South Asians in British Theatre before 1975, Colin Chambers

    3. Two Worlds?: Asian Theatre and Alternative Theatre in Tower Hamlets in the 1980s, Susan Croft

    4. Experiments in Theatre from the Margins: Text, Performance and New Writers, Rukhsana Ahmad

    5. Dramatising Refuge(e)s: Rukhsana Ahmad's Song for a Sanctuary and Tanika Gupta's Sanctuary, Christiane Schlote

    6. Directing Storytelling Performance and Storytelling Theatre, Chris Banfield

    7. Engaging the Audience: a Comparative Analysis of Developmental Strategies in Birmingham and Leicester since the 1990s, Claire Cochrane

    8. Patriarchy and Its Discontents: the 'Kitchen-Sink Drama' of Tamasha Theatre Company, Victoria Sams

    9. The Marketing of Commercial and Subsidized Theatre to British Asian Audiences: Bombay Dreams (2002) and Tamasha's Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings and a Funeral (1998 and 2001), Suman Bhuchar

    10. Mixing with the Mainstream: Transgressing the Identity of Place, Jerri Daboo

    11. Between Page and Stage: Meera Syal in British Asian Culture, Giovanna Buonanno

    12. Tara Arts (1997 - 2007): Mapping a 'Binglish' Diaspora, Dominic Hingorani

    13. Imagine, Indiaah...on the British Stage: Exploring Tara's 'Binglish' and Tamasha's Brechtian Approaches, Chandrika Patel

    14. On the Making of Mr Quiver, Rajni Shah


    Graham Ley is professor of Drama and Theory at the University of Exeter and leader for the AHRC project. His work has ranged from antiquity to the present day. He has been a joint editor of the Performance Studies series from its inception; he is also a joint editor of the series Performance Practises for Palgrave.

    Dr Sarah Dadswell is the full-time Research Fellow for the AHRC project; she is a cultural historian, with expertise in the twentieth century, notably in Russian and Soviet avant-garde theatre. Dadswell is also joint editor of “Victory over the Sun” for Artist BookWorks, with Rosamund Bartlett.