We began the process of working on Pah-La excited to meet and engage with Tibetan performers as part of the company, and it is of huge disappointment to us that we weren’t able to fulfil that ambition.
We went through a thorough process that involved traditional casting avenues and also a public open call for performers and artists of different disciplines who might be interested in working on the show. As a result of that open call we met people in December, some of whom are now involved in the making of the show. In light of recent conversations we’ve been interrogating that process.
We are so thankful to the members of the Tibetan community who have challenged us, engaged with us, and come to meet with us to talk about the casting of Pah-La. We are profoundly humbled and sorry for the disappointment we have caused and we hope we can use this catalyst to make meaningful and long-term change together.
The Tibetan community is one of the smallest communities in the UK and we have seen through this process how closely-knit, generous and supportive they are to one another and to ensuring the Tibetan community is heard, seen and represented in our cultural life.
We take responsibility for the confusion and disappointment we have caused and we are thrilled to be moving forwards positively together to restore trust.
We are talking with the council of the Tibetan community in Britain about the following events to celebrate the staging of Pah-La:
- we will hold two Saturday performance workshops – one for young Tibetans and one with the established and emerging Tibetan performers in the UK
- we offer our spaces as a platform for a cultural event during the run of Pah-La, perhaps to coincide with the 30th birthday of Panchen Lama which falls in the final week of the run (April 25th)
- the Royal Court is about writers, so we will be inviting Tibetan writers (in all forms) and artists to form a group in line with Royal Court writer development.
We have removed the poster image, in recognition that this felt like an exploitative and untruthful representation of the production. We have offered the council of the Tibetan community in Britain the opportunity to provide information to our audience members.
Our intentions were entirely ethical, inclusive and ambitious in producing this important, urgent and beautiful play by Abhishek Majumdar, which comes with so much goodwill from the Tibetan community worldwide. Those intentions are unchanged, and we deeply regret the communication failures that unsettled the goodwill and faith in us.
We have been humbled by the articulate and generous way the community have shared their feelings, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
In producing the urgent plays developed by the Royal Court’s international team on our stages in London we always interrogate the politics of the casting, and take very seriously our responsibilities to those connected to the story, to the writer, and to our outstanding acting community in the UK. There are often challenges balancing these responsibilities but we welcome all of the conversations inspired by telling these global stories. We are excited to be working with a wonderful East Asian and Southeast Asian acting company which holds within it a breadth of backgrounds and heritage.