‘There is a lot of talk about de-colonising the curriculum, but we also need to de-colonise our theatres to make British theatre relevant’ – Tanika Gupta.
Tanika was interviewed by Arts Industry about her career and upcoming work.
‘Tanika Gupta is not just the leading British Asian playwright, multi-award-winning with more than 20 plays performed in her 25-year career. Nor is she merely a leading British woman playwright, though she is that too. What she almost certainly is, is our most versatile writer for stage, screen and radio’
Coming in 2022 – A new adaptation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
Following her acclaimed adaptation of a Dolls house, Tanika takes on a new adaptation of Hedda Gabler for Birmingham REP, set in the post-war British film industry and reimagining the play through the lens of race as well as misogyny.
18 June – 24 July 2021 – Out West – The Overseas Student
London. 1888. An 18-year old Gandhi has just arrived from India to study Law. Miles from home, his wife and his family, we see him navigate a time of uncertainty, growth and opportunity. As he builds a new life, he explores the joys of money, food and women whilst facing the struggles of class and imperialism.
Gupta’s sharp and profound play is an insight into the teenage years of a man we know will grow up to be one of the most significant figures in history.
‘Out West is the production that reopens our doors after the enforced closure due to the pandemic. The three writers, Tanika Gupta, Simon Stephens and Roy Williams, are some of the most exciting voices in British theatre and I am so proud that they are sharing our stage and bringing the Lyric back to life. All three plays speak to our current moment; questions of race, geography, identity, belonging and hope run through all three. Theatre has the power to move, to challenge and to entertain. It is also the medium through which, for centuries, human beings have attempted to understand each other and the world around us. I cannot think of a more necessary moment for theatre than now. I look forward, with co-director Diane Page, to sharing Out West with you. We are back. We are here.’ – Rachel O’Riordan (Whats On Stage.)
September 2019 – A Doll’s House
“I have long admired the play A Doll’s House by Ibsen for its powerful portrait of how a young woman – Nora – breaks free from the shackles of a patriarchal marriage. Transposing the setting to Calcutta in 1879 (the year of the play’s first performance), opens the door to exploring additional power dynamics. Two years after Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India and in the midst of massive expansion of the British Empire across the world, I wanted to pose the question – what happened to the women of India who were married to Englishmen? Nora is now a young Bengali woman in a mixed marriage with an English colonial administrator who worships and exoticises her. The wider environment and the central relationship are thus bound up with colonial attitudes to race, sitting alongside and interwoven with patriarchy. This moves it beyond being simply an ‘all Asian’ Doll’s House, enabling an analysis of different forms of subjugation and servitude. Nora breaking free of her shackles is thus all the more poignant at the end of the play.” – Tanika Gupta
Adapted by Tanika Gupta and directed by Rachel O’Riordan, the play is set in Calcutta, with Niru (Nora in the original) played by Anjana Vasan (Summer and Smoke).
“Gupta invites us to look at the play’s gender politics through the lens of British colonialism” – The Guardian
“Tanika can write about big subjects with complete confidence and bravery… it’s work by a woman of colour, a London playwright with Indian heritage”– The Stage
“It’s not just about looking at subjugation of a woman, but subjugation of a race through colonialism” – London Live – Tanika Gupta re-imagines ‘A Doll’s House
August 2019 – Red Dust Road
“You are made up from a mixture of myth and gene. You are part fable, part porridge”
Growing up in 70s’ Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Communist couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…
From Nairn to Lagos, Red Dust Road takes you on a journey full of heart, humour and deep emotions. Discover how we are shaped by the folk songs we hear as much as by the cells in our bodies.
Based on the soul-searching memoir by Jackie Kay, adapted by Tanika Gupta, and directed by Dawn Walton.
Opening at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019 and then at HOME, Manchester in September 2019. Touring to Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness in autumn 2019.
June 2019 – Hobson’s Choice
A updated version of Tanika’s adaptation of Hobson’s Choice, that first appeared at the Young Vic in London in 2003, will be produced at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from 31st May until the 6th July 2019. Find out more and book tickets now!
August 2018 – James Tait Black
Tanika Gupta won the prestigious James Tait Black Prize for Drama 2018. The £10,000 play writing prize is presented annually by the University of Edinburgh for the best original play written in English, Scots or Gaelic and first performed by a professional company in the previous year. Gupta won for her play Lions and Tigers, performed last year at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London, which tells the true story of her great uncle and freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta.
The awards ceremony took place at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on August 20, hosted by television and radio presenter Shereen Nanjiani.
“The talent and creativity shown by this year’s shortlist was astounding. Tanika Gupta’s epic drama pushes the boundaries of verbatim theatre, telling an important story in a fresh and authentic way never seen on stage before.”– Chair of the judging panel, Greg Walker, Regius professor of rhetoric and English literature at the University of Edinburgh