A letter from our Artistic Director, Abdul Shayek

27 May 2021

Three weeks ago, Tara Theatre hosted a research and development session from a visiting company. Feeling like an excited child on their first day of school, it was a joy to soak up the atmosphere of a rehearsal room once again in our beautiful space which has lain dormant for so long. Watching ideas take shape, words given meaning and individual endeavour become a collective whole.

Since I came into post in late summer 2020 during this rollercoaster of a year, it’s been vital for us to interrogate the power of the individual versus collective action. Being isolated from each other whilst feeling the effects of decisions taken by the powerful has thrown the inequities present in our society into sharp relief. As the first Black, Asian and ethnically diverse led theatre company in the UK and the only one with its own building, what does it mean for us when the communities we represent are disproportionately affected by decisions taken by (mostly) white men in Westminster? When so many have lost so much, what does it mean to make theatre now? Who does it really speak to and for? How can we seize this pivotal moment and be a catalyst for change?

Before stepping back into a rehearsal room, we’ve been asking these questions and more over the last few months. We’ve taken our time to listen, talk and engage in debates with artists of all ages, our communities and sector colleagues – out of which was born Disproportionately Affected. Centring the voices of those most impacted by the pandemic and platforming authentic stories, we’ve put co-creation and a commitment to exploring the world through a South Asian lens at the heart of our new purpose.

Although it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be making a return back to our building in Wandsworth – founded of course by the ground-breaking Jatinder Verma – we’re also excited to look beyond these four walls and forge partnerships nationally and internationally.

As our sector and society begins to recover, we remain committed to asking and tackling urgent and necessary issues head on through debate, performance and conversation to create ripples locally and globally.

We hope you can join us.

Abdul Shayek, Artistic Director and Joint CEO