British Asian theatre company Tara Arts blends East and West in its new production of Shakespeare’s classic exploration of colonialism, The Tempest. As part of the company’s 30th anniversary year, the production will have a limited season from 9 to 27 January 2008 at the West End’s Arts Theatre ahead of a nine-stop national tour, concluding at Sir Peter Hall’s soon-to-be inaugurated Rose Theatre, Kingston.

The production was first seen last month at Tara’s dedicated Studio. The cast includes Keith Thorne (Caliban/Gonzalo) Caroline Kilpatrick (Ariel), Tom Kanji (Antonio/Stefano), Robert Mountford (Prospero/Trinculo), Chris Jack (Ferdinand/Sebastian) and Jessica Manley (Miranda/Alonzo). The production is directed by Tara artistic director Jatinder Verma and designed by his company associated director Claudia Mayer.

Tara Arts was founded in August 1977, launching with an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s anti-war play Sacrifice, which was chosen in response to the racist murder the year before of 17-year-old Sikh Gurdip Singh Chaggar in Southall and other injustices in Asian communities.

Over the past three decades, the company’s mission has been to reflect contemporary British realities and experiences through adaptations of classic texts. Many of today’s leading British Asian talents have been fostered by Tara, including Sudha Buchar, co-founder of Tamasha Theatre Company, East Is East and Rafta Rafta author Ayub Khan-Din and Goodness Gracious Me’s Sanjeev Bhasker. The company’s patrons include Hanif Kureishi, Richard Eyre and Naseem Khan.

Following London, The Tempest continues to Wolverhampton, Aberystwyth, Cumbria, Tunbridge Wells, Swansea, Darlington, Buxton and Hexham, before finishing at the Rose Theatre, Kingston from 25 February to 2 March 2008.

After six years and £11 million of development, Kingston’s Rose Theatre, modelled on the Elizabethan London original, officially opens on 16 January with a new production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, directed by Peter Hall for English Touring Theatre (See News, 8 Nov 2007). In addition to The Tempest, the theatre’s inaugural season then continues with other visiting productions including the Warren Mitchell-led play Visiting Mr Green, Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, and Northern Broadsides’ staging of Romeo and Juliet.

- by Terri Paddock