Mother Tongues from Farther Lands is a spoken word theatre show told by Shobu Kapoor, Shobna Gulati, Shyama Perera and Sajeela Kershi. Full of fascinating, fearless and funny stories from South Asian women – they are the backbone of their culture, but a group whose voices are too often forgotten – the show tours from 11th May 2017 until 3rd June 2017.
Through a series of lively regional workshops, Sajeela Kershi (comedian, writer and creator of the multi-award-winning Immigrant Diaries) ‘fused’ professional performers Shobu Kapoor (EastEnders, Citizen Khan), Shobna Gulati (Dinnerlandies, Coronation Street) and journalist Shyama Perera together with non performers from Britain’s South Asian communities, some from extremely vulnerable and challenged backgrounds.
The result of this unique creative exchange is an absorbing collection of moving and entertaining stories that address the gender imbalance experienced in South Asian communities. The devised monologues show the strength, tenacity, bravery and humour at the core of these diverse and ‘kick ass’ women!
“Telling another person’s story puts a huge responsibility on my shoulders” says Shobu Kapoor. “I have to honour them but also try and be as three-dimensional as possible, which means shedding light also on the shadow side of someone’s personality. Hopefully, an emotionally rounded portrayal draws the audience in in a way that a totally factual rendering may not, and the people whose stories I’m telling feel that they and their experiences have been truthfully told.”
Shobna Gulati adds: “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to work within a female-led team of diverse artists where we can engage with, recognise and celebrate the contributions of women from our communities from all backgrounds in and outside of London; with a view to share our experiences of our life journeys, finding a collective joy, freedom to release and solace.”
About the cast
Shyama Perera – Writer/Broadcaster
Shyama Perera was the youngest reporter ever taken on by the Guardian at just 23 years old. She has worked in TV and radio, and turned her hand to fiction. Her first novel, Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, was published by Sceptre in 1999, and three more have followed. In 2004, her history of contraception, Taking Precautions, was published by New Holland. Shyama writes regularly for the national press, contributes short stories and essays to anthologies and presents on radio and TV. She is Chair of SALIDAA, the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive, and on the board of Westminster Kingsway College. An avid theatre fan, and has been as a member of the Olivier Awards panel, which celebrates the best London productions of the season.
Shobu Kapoor – Actor
Shobu was born and brought up in India and came to the UK to fulfil her lifelong love of acting. In over a quarter of a century as a professional actress, Shobu has worked across a variety of mediums including film, television, theatre, radio and voiceovers. She played Gita Kapoor on EastEnders and Mrs Khan in the BBC One sitcom, Citizen Khan. She has just completed work on the feature film Boogie Man (slated for release in autumn 2017) and participated in the 25th anniversary of The Globe Theatre’s sonnet walks in Westminster Abbey April. Shobu is also a poet and playwright and filmmaker.
Shobna Gulati – Actress/Writer/Dancer
Among Shobna Gulati’s many credits are roles as Anita in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and Sunita Alahan in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. She also appeared in EastEnders and is one of very few actors to have appeared in both of the UK’s most watched soap operas. Other work on television includes Casualty, In the Club, Where The Heart Is, Have I Got News for You, Countdown and Loose Women. Shobna’s collection of theatre credits is extensive, covering the whole of the UK and including a number of national tours and West End runs, and the critically acclaimed comedy show for young women, The Masala Girls, which she wrote and directed. Shobna is also an experienced choreographer, working in theatre as well as in community and education settings.
Sajeela Kershi – Comedian and writer
Since 2006 Sajeela has performed stand-up worldwide, including taking shows to the Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Manchester, Buxton and Brighton festivals as well as performing at Montreal’s Just for Laughs. Along the way, Sajeela has picked up a number of nominations and awards including winner of an Asian Women of Achievement Award 2015 (Arts & Culture category), winner of Angel Award for Artistic Excellence (2015), star of the Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning show, Brendon Burns: So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now (2007), and a finalist at the Hackney Empire New Acts Awards 2011.
Among her scripted radio credits are a Muslim/Jewish collaborative sketch pilot for BBC Radio Four; multi-faith sitcom, Mixing It, alongside Janey Godley and Sanjeev Kholi, for BBC Radio Scotland, and four specially commissioned monologues, also for BBC Radio Scotland. Sajeela is a regular pundit on BBC London 94.9, BBC Asian Network, BBC Surrey, BBC Sussex, LBC and has featured on BBC Radio Four’s Loose Ends and Saturday Live, BBC Radio Two’s Good Morning Sunday with Claire Balding and Kay Adams’ BBC Scotland show. On television, Sajeela has appeared on Comedy Central, ITV2’s Comedy Cuts and ITV1’s The Big Debate with Nina Hussain.
Dawinder Bansal – Producer
Dawinder Bansal is a creative producer with strong experience of using cultural heritage and contemporary stories to make new professional theatre shows, rooted in the heart of communities. Currently she is a nominee for 2017 Asian Woman of Achievement awards under category of Media. Throughout the past nine years she has led a diverse mix of theatre productions/projects for small arts charities to major international corporations such as Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil (Brazil), BBC, Channel 4, English Heritage, Southbank Centre, Oldham Coliseum, Cast in Doncaster, and Black Country Touring. Dawinder was responsible for developing and producing South Bank’s South Asian Alchemy festival for the Black Country region.
Mother Tongues from Farther Lands
Age: 14+, Duration: 70 minutes, no interval, Entry: Free
Thursday 11 May, 7.30pm
Saturday 20 May, 3.30pm
Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, London
Tuesday 23rd May, 7.30pm
Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton
Saturday 3 June, 5pm
Cast in Doncaster
Mother Tongues from Farther Lands is a commission by Alchemy On Tour partnership; Southbank Centre, Black Country Touring, Cast in Doncaster and Oldham Coliseum.
The Alchemy festival has established a hugely positive reputation over the last six years, building on relationships between Southbank Centre and leading artists and cultural organisations in the UK and the Indian subcontinent. It is a platform for new creative collaborations, specifically inviting work influenced by or from the Indian subcontinent as well as across the UK.
For further information visit https://www.southbankcentre.co