Handlooms: a week in the life

This new production will tour to two sari shops in Leicester and Manchester

Dilip Modha welcomes us to our performance space.
© Anthony Robling

Rasa Theatre and Contact Manchester are doing something exciting for their newest show Handlooms, setting the production in a specially transformed sari shop. The piece follows Rajesh, who, alongside his mother, has to tackle a crisis for his sari shop.

The show will begin at the Alankar House of Sarees – the oldest traditional sari shop on Manchester’s Curry Mile. From there it will transfer to Leicester, where it runs in April. We asked the artistic director Rani Moorthy to give us a look behind-the-scenes at the unique production.

Testing out the tricky costumes

RM: "Starting off in the rehearsal room, and mastering the tricky art of draping the sari on Riana."

The sound to go with the saris

RM: "Handlooms is experienced through live theatre and audio-storytelling. Making magical soundscapes with singer and composer Sarah Yazeen and Slung Low’s sound engineer Matt Angove."

The perfect fit

RM: "Sari shops are naturally theatrical spaces. This platform is where saris are displayed to Alankar’s customers – our stage for the next two weeks!"

Making the cut

RM: " Ashraf learns the tricks of the trade. Alankar is one of the last traditional sari shops, where men display and sell the sari and have an expert knowledge of the age-old customs and rituals behind the South Asian garment."

The hottest show in town

RM: "Manchester’s newest and most unusual theatre is causing quite a stir. There’s a media buzz around Handlooms as we get set for opening night."

All systems go

RM: "First run! Our crew don their headphones and take their seats ready for a close encounter with Handlooms."

Handlooms runs at Alankar House of Sarees, Manchester, 12 to 24 March and then at Anokhi House of Sarees in Leicester fom 10 to 22 April.