Theatre News

Abdul Shayek launches first season as Tara Theatre artistic director

Shayek succeeded Jatinder Verma last year

Abdul Shayek
Abdul Shayek

Abdul Shayek has announced his first programme for the newly rebranded Tara Theatre in south London.

Formerly Tara Arts, the venue is the UK's longest established Asian, Black and ethnically diverse led theatre company.

Shayek was appointed in August 2020, succeeding founding artistic director Jatinder Verma.

His inaugural season will champion South Asian artists. The programme includes Final Farewell (8 to 31 July), an outdoor audio journey conceived and directed by Shayek and written by Sudha Bhuchar exploring how we say a proper goodbye to those lost in the pandemic. It will culminate in a "celebratory finale" at Tara Theatre each night.

The season will also feature 2020 (15 June to 3 July), 12 new monologues from Hassan Abdulrazzak, Shahid Iqbal Khan, Amina Atiq, Erinn Dhesi, Reginald Edmund, Carlo Kureishi, Hanif Kureishi, Asif Khan, Yuqun Fan, Abhishek Majumdar, Sumerah Srivastav, Sonali Bhattacharyya and Shreya Sen-Handley. The new works are directed by Gitika Buttoo, Iqbal Khan (recently announced as associate director at Birmingham Rep) and Pooja Ghai and Abdul Shayek.

The building will reopen with Beyond Lockdown (10 to 12 June), a project working with a local school, "capturing students' hopes and dreams for the future, putting young people centre stage".

Tara has also launched series of initiatives under the heading The Listening Space, to address challenges facing the freelance workforce. This includes a report that will be published in July with "practical recommendations for a more equitable theatre sector".

Abdul Shayek said: "Tara Theatre will be a catalyst and agent for change within the UK theatre landscape, addressing the widespread lack of diversity and inclusivity and changing our sector.

"Our work will explore the complexities of our world through a South Asian lens, championing contemporary South Asian voices and artists, identifying new narratives, new ideas and new forms and offering a more equitable and representative space."