Women of the Dust, rehearsals in India

History

Tamasha was formed in 1989 by director Kristine Landon-Smith and actor / playwright Sudha Bhuchar with a mission to bring contemporary work of Asian influence to the British stage.

The company's debut production, Untouchable - an adaptation of the novel by Mulk Raj Anand following a day in the life of an Indian latrine cleaner - opened at London’s Riverside Studios in December 1989, performed by an entirely British Asian cast and playing alternate nights in English and Hindi.  The success of Untouchable, and the diverse audiences it attracted, confirmed a growing appetite in Britain for quality drama which could accurately reflect the complexities of Asian cultures, while speaking to theatregoers from all backgrounds.

The company’s second production, House of the Sun, again drew its inspiration from modern literature (in this case a novel by Meira Chand), and provided a window into India’s little-known Hindu Sindhi community.  Ruth Carter's Women of the Dust followed a year later, commissioned by Oxfam to mark its 50th anniversary, recounting the untold story of all-female workforces drafted in from India’s villages to work on urban construction sites.  Both productions saw the team visit India to talk directly to the communities in question - primary research, which has since become a cornerstone of Tamasha’s creative process.  Women of the Dust  also performed in Delhi and Bombay, marking the company's first international tour.

Abhijat Joshi's A Shaft of Sunlight and Ruth Carter's A Yearning would follow in 1994 and 1995 respectively, the latter transposing Lorca's Yerma to Birmingham's Punjabi community.  It was among five Tamasha productions that were subsequently adapted for broadcast on BBC Radio 4: the radio versions of both A Yearning and Women of the Dust went on to win CRE Race in the Media awards.   

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