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Kali Theatre Company presents TALKBACK

Janet Steel and Nina Joshi Ramsey workshop for Familiar Strangers
Janet Steel and Nina Joshi Ramsey workshop for Familiar Strangers

The award winning KALI THEATRE COMPANY specialises in presenting new plays by South Asian female playwrights, a mission that has been instrumental in developing talent and taking powerful new work to increasing audiences and critical acclaim across the UK for the past 25 years.

TALKBACK is the culmination of Kali’s innovative Writer Development Programme through which the company discovers, inspires and develops original voices. From scripts submitted to an open callout a year earlier, writers are chosen to join the Writer Development Programme which includes writing workshops, discussions with guest writers and dramaturgs and one-to-one tutorials.

The programme’s success in developing and staging new plays is evident: ‘Mustafa’ by Nayla Ahmed was nominated for 4 Offies in the Off West End Theatre Awards as well as the Royal National Theatre Playwright Award; tour dates included a two week run at London’s Soho Theatre. Sonali Bhattacharyya’s play ‘Home’ was presented by Kali and led to a commission at Birmingham Rep and scripts for BBC series such as Eastenders and Holby City.

We’re immensely proud of our annual Talkback event,” says Janet Steel, Kali Artistic Director (left). “Since Talkback started in 2008, we’ve been receiving more and more scripts covering an exciting diversity of subjects, styles and characters which is exactly what Kali is all about. As the culmination of our unique Writer Development Programme, we’ll be presenting these wonderful new plays in public for the first time. Tristan Bates Theatre is the perfect venue; intimate and right in the heart of the West End.

TalkbackTALKBACK programme:
Monday January 11th at 7:30pm
Porcelain Dolls by Yasmin Whittaker-Khan (London)
Javed, a victim of Bacha Bazi (Afghan slang for homosexual paedophilia) is temporarily left in the care of a Khawaja Sara household by his ‘owner’, an Afghan Warlord, where he finds friendship and stability. The Khawaja Sara community – the ‘third’ gender or ‘shemale’ – is both revered and avoided in Pakistan. Javed’s future is put to the test when his owner comes to reclaim him…

Tuesday January 12th at 7.30pm
The Deported by Sadia Saeed (London)
Directed by Janet Steel
Personal passions become intertwined with international diplomacy when an exiled Pakistani politician arrested for money laundering is brought to a London police station. Hilarious complications arise with the arrival of a reporter, her mother, the wife of the politician and the Attorney General who happens to be the father of the sergeant.

Faded by Sharanpreet Kaur Atwal (Essex)
Directed by Shona Morris
Every day is different and new for Preet. And every day is a constant worry for her daughter Simran. Living with the pain of loss in a troubled past is hard enough. Living with the loss of the present and the effects of dementia makes it even harder.

Wednesday January 13th at 7.30pm
Pebbles and Stones by Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal (London)
Directed by Poonam Brah
Jamil and Areeb are enraged by local racist attacks and join in counter protests. Jamil’s father is vehemently against their actions, pleading for him to stay out of trouble as he prepares for university but when Jamil meets a veteran local activist, the real reasons his father has rejected protest are revealed.

Thursday January 14th at 7.30pm
Familiar Strangers by Nina Joshi Ramsey (London)
Directed by Janet Steel
A mother waits to meet her estranged son on the wedding day of his daughter who she has never met. As the play moves back in time it explores how the close bonds they once shared were severed two decades earlier. Can they overcome the pain and secrets of the past?

Friday January 15th at 7.30pm
Sweets and Chocolates by Shazia Ashraf (Wakefield, Yorkshire)
Directed by Shona Morris
Nadia is a cricket obsessed eleven year old in rural Pakistan. M’Bilia Bel is a single devout Christian in the Congo. Catherine is a headmistress of a private school in England. Three monologues intertwine to explore the subject of paedophilia from the point of view of the victim, witness and perpetrator.

Splinter by Abhi Arumbakkam (Slough)
Directed by Shona Morris
What happens when someone reappears and pokes around the cold embers of your bitter separation? Does it rekindle fury long buried but never fully extinguished? Can Durga and Vishnu ever fully put their long-dead marriage to rest or each time they look ahead, will they catch a glimpse of their past?

January 19th – 23rd at 7.30pm
A double bill of two compelling new plays

She Is Not Herself by Veronica J. Dewan
Directed by Helena Bell
Anoukh is a tourist guide who loves maps. She can find her way to anywhere but cannot find herself. She thinks Jules might have the answers. Jules wants to reclaim the mixed-race daughter she was compelled to give up by the Catholic church. They are strangers to each other yet so much is familiar. As they try to confront the injustices of the past, and negotiate a minefield of emotions, they hear news which threatens to tear this fragile relationship apart.

Stateless by Subika Anwar (Northampton)
Directed by Trilby James
Denny has recently returned home from serving in Afghanistan. He is now the gatehouse keeper of a psychiatric hospital. Late one night, he receives an unexpected visit from an intriguing stranger.  She is easy to talk to but is she the person she seems to be?  At a time of global uncertainty, Stateless merges contemporary political issues with a personal story.

January 11th-15th – new play readings
January 19th-23rd – a double bill of new plays
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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