Bhuchar Boulevard in association with the Royal Court Theatre

Retracing Our Footsteps

Retracing Our Footsteps Top / Details
Wed 30 May - Fri 01 Jun 2018

Three nights of play readings of classic works by British/South Asian writers, celebrating a rich canon of work that is rarely seen on stage.

Curated by Bhuchar Boulevard Associate Suman Bhuchar, this retrospective, features plays originally performed at the Royal Court, from India to the UK, with subjects exploring child prostitution, corruption, partition, vengeance, love, and integration.

The readings will be directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, Kully Thiarai and Iqbal Khan and followed by panel discussions.

Retracing Our Footsteps is an initiative by Bhuchar Boulevard to accelerate the development of an Asian theatre playwriting archive. The Bhuchar Boulevard’s Asian playwriting archive project has been supported by Professor Colin Chambers, Tara Arts, Phizzical Productions, V&A and University of Warwick.


Wed 30 May, 7.30pm
A Touch Of Brightness (1967)
Written by Partap Sharma
Directed by Kristine Landon-Smith

“What? Is it troubling you that Benarsi sold you? Child, the fact that I paid so much only shows how much I value you.”

When Rukmini is sold to a brothel in Mumbai, Pidku, a street urchin tries desperately to rescue her from prostitution.

Banned in India, this play exposes the underbelly of Indian society and the humanity within it. The original cast included Saeed Jaffrey, Zora Sehgal and Roshan Seth. Later, it was adapted for radio and featured Judi Dench as Rukhmini and music by Ravi Shankar.

Panel Discussion
Setting the Stage: Representation, Authenticity & Identity
A Touch of Brightness
was dubbed by the Indian censors as damaging to the ‘image’ of India whilst acknowledging the existence of the social reality depicted. Are today’s artists burdened by the need to be ‘authentic’ and who is the judge of ‘truthful’ representation? Chaired by Sudha Bhuchar with panellists including Sue Sharma, Kristine Landon-Smith, Jatinder Verma, Kully Thiarai, and Satinder Chohan.


Thu 31 May, 7.30pm
Written by Hanif Kureishi
Directed by Kully Thiarai

“Amjad, we have made mistakes.”
“What mistakes?”
“We never realised how English she would become.”

Drawn from workshops with the Asian community of Southall in the aftermath of the Southall Riots in 1979, Borderline explores the complexity of Asian immigrant life in Britain through Haroon and Amina, two teenagers whose aspirations place them in direct conflict with their parents’ dreams for their children. The original production was by Joint Stock Theatre Company.

Hanif Kureishi CBE is a prolific playwright, screen writer and novelist with credits including My Beautiful Laundrette, The Buddha of Suburbia and Le Weekend.

Panel Discussion
The ‘ubiquitous immigrant’ as inspiration?
Hanif Kureishi talked of the issues of race, immigration, integration, and the colonial legacy as ‘cracks in the wall’ through which to view landscapes. Is the immigrant still a modern Everyman, representing the aspirations of millions? Chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with a panel including playwrights Hanif Kureishi and Yasmin Whittaker-Khan.


Fri 1 Jun, 7.30pm
Blood (1989)
Written by Harwant Bains
Directed by Iqbal Khan

“Why will I only ever speak in whispers? I’ll be loyal. Yes. Forever. But where will I find the dreams we had?”

Two brothers, one adopted by his uncle, journey from the Punjab to West London to carve out a new life while remaining loyal to their land and people. Blood explores how the Partition of India shaped the lives of first generation immigrants.

The original production featured the late Paul Bhattacharjee as Balbir and Meera Syal as Surinder.

Panel Discussion
Can we talk about it? Telling Our Story
Rooted within the world of Punjabi Sikhs, Harwant Bains talked of the desire to open a dialogue with the previous generation with their proud and bloody history. When trying to capture truths of people that you are part of, can playwrights ever feel completely free? Chaired by Sudha Bhuchar with a panel including playwrights Harwant Bains, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti and Iqbal Khan.

Royal Court Theatre

Tickets are £10 (£8 conc) or £25 for all three readings if purchased in the same transaction.


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