What is NOVA?

19 May 2023

Tara Theatre’s Associate Director Natasha Kathi-Chandra dives into what NOVA is and the role of new writing in London’s theatre scene after our successful pilot of this seed commission with NOVA: Table Reads on 19 May

Natasha Kathi-Chandra, Associate Director at Tara Theatre

Why does Tara Theatre commission and produce a new writing showcase?


Tara Theatre are leading the way for Artist Development and expanding the canon of south Asian voices. We commission and produce new writing because we are keen to explore current and contemporary themes affecting south Asian diaspora communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Developing and showcasing the work is integral to providing platforms for writers to gain experience of drafting their scripts as well as that tricky next step to sharing the work with a public audience.

It is vital to not only expand the canon but also showcase for the wider sector to realise the quantity of quality writers out there to make essential connections with and think about their own structures and programming.


Nova is an evening looking to explore the future themes Tara Theatre want to interrogate; what made the featured pieces stand out and what themes do Tara Theatre believe are going to be integral to our theatrical future?


The current themes are ones we believe as urgent as they directly impact south asian & global majority identifying communities.

The evidence points to the climate emergency impacting countries in South Asia as well as communities in the west, is one that we are keen to explore and spread awareness of.

Politics that impact borders and boundaries and migrant communities are stories that we are drawn to as these stories span over generations

AI & technology can have both positive and negative impacts on various groups of communities but more than that is is challenging and exploring theatre makers to think of new and unique ways to experiment with how to tell and stage stories which excites us the most.


Where do you think new writing exists in London’s theatre ecology? With new writing, adaptation and classic established texts on offer, where should our emphasis as theatre-makers be in 2023?


For me, new writing & adaptations excite me the most- there is a lot bubbling away and many writers making bold and brave waves! Its an exciting time! Classic established texts have become an interesting topic of exploration, I’ve seen many contemporised versions of classical texts and its scary how relevant some of them still are today.


With an increase in devised work, how do you see new writing sitting in relation to work created from scratch in rehearsal rooms?


The genius mind of a playwright remains integral to developing the piece of work, even in a devising process. Either version is an exciting one, but to evolve and develop a show to its full potential, a writer putting the script that a rehearsal room works from is still a necessary part of the process.


Once work is produced, whether in staged readings, scratch nights or full-scale performances, how should artists and new voices be supported beyond their first production?


Tara Theatre has an open-door policy. Whether its networking, connecting them up with other contacts in the sector or just sitting down with artists for a cup of coffee, helping artists feel like they have a network in order for them to be inspired for that next big thing is vital to supporting artists beyond.


How does Tara Theatre stand out from other theatres in how it approaches new writing?


Open calls for writers of south Asian heritage or connections at any stage of their careers. Submissions as pages, ideas, or pitches.


For playwrights creating new work, what should be at the forefront of their minds on their journey to staging?


Start big! Think big! Be open to draft & redraft. R&D periods are great to uncover the best version of your piece. Don’t be afraid to share your work, whether its to someone you trust or a public reading/ audience.


In ten years from now, what would you like London’s theatre scene to look like?


Equally represented in race & gender both on and off stage. Not seeing the word “risky” come up to often in conversations about programming.

A stronger pool of Global Majority artists with careers developed through different and supportive artist development programs.