STAGE Anita and Me
Returning to our seats following the interval, the Asian woman I was with at Anita and Me was asked by an older lady if she ‘knew anyone in the cast’.
You might think it’s a perfectly normal and polite enquiry. It’s what’s known as a microaggression. The inference in that question is ‘why else would you, an Asian woman, be here at a theatre?’. That’s why we need plays like this.
When dramas that put the British Asian experience at their heart are put on stage like this, they have several important effects at a macro societal level. First of all, they bring in an Asian audience – this is as racially mixed a group as I have seen at the Alhambra. They also bring Asian stories to the White British theatre going public and allow British Asians to see their stories on the stage, an all too unusual experience. It means the bar is set a little differently for a show like Anita and Me. The truth is, there were Funding news: West Yorkshire Playhouse this week announced that it had been awarded £25,000 to support refugee and asylum seekers over the next year. The programme of support will be delivered in partnership with
City of Sanctuary, a Leeds-based charity which works with refugees in the region, and was awarded by the Asda Foundation as part of a £380,000 grant for projects to support innovative mental health projects. Artistic director James Brining said: “As well as producing theatre, the Playhouse also works behind the scenes providing a range of creative, supportive activities for people who otherwise face real technical issues. Aasiya Shah, taking the lead as Meena, the young Asian girl growing up in The Midlands in the 1970s, has a lot to learn. Her inexperience in the finer points of stagecraft – and with much of the younger cast on stage – means that diction and clarity are to be finessed.
The story, by Tanika Gupta adapted from Meera Syal’s novel, is broad brush stroke. Gupta attempts to include fine detail, but the story is too big, taking in Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood, the speed of progress inflicted on our towns and the effects of immigration combined with mass unemployment. Shobna Gulati as isolation. Our work with refugees is nationally acclaimed, which is why we were recognised as the UK’s first ever Theatre of Sanctuary. This fantastic and generous grant from the Asda
Open Day: The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough is holding an open day on Saturday, April 1. Visitors will be able to see behind the scenes of the world-famous venue on free backstage tours. Activities include the chance to tread the boards, see a lighting and sound demo, try on costumes in the wardrobe department – and there will be a props, scripts and furniture sale in the theatre’s Bistro area. For more details visit www.sjt.uk.com
COMING OF AGE: Anita and Me, based on Meera Syal’s novel, is at Bradford Alhambra this week.
ON SONG: A pub performance of Opera North’s whistle-stop Billy Budd last year.