DNA brings together the countless journeys taken by the generations that came before us in this exciting showcase by Tara Theatre’s first Young Company. The innovative and paid engagement programme consisted of a collaborative process over 12 weeks of workshops, devising, movement, rehearsal and tech culminating in a sharing on the 19-22 April. The 11 Young Company members are formed of actors and theatremakers aged 18-25 who are based in London but whose backgrounds span the globe, from Albania to Pakistan. It’s refreshing to see a company formed of actors and practitioners from non-traditional drama backgrounds taking ownership of their cultural DNA.
Written by Atiha Sen Gupta, DNA sticks to one of the first principles of storytelling of writing what you know, followed immediately by a good principle of keeping it relevant. The play opens with a strong (and stable) performance from actor Nim Gill (How to Make Rice) addressing the paparazzi in a satirical government speech – “Let me be clear. We are the ones who do the invading” – filled with irony and a brilliant demystifying of the show title DNA: “Do. Not. Arrive.” The choice of Gill, as a South-Asian British woman, playing the role of a government official is simple but effective in referencing the last decade of female and South Asian politicians in power propping up hypocritical hostile environment policies. The British government is effectively used as a frame to bring together the migration stories that follow as a nice symbol of the reasons why most of us (migrants) are here.
Kevin Mesiti and Saqib Javaid tell the touching story of a father and son preparing for dinner and the significance of the humble lentil back home during times of famine. Anna Constantinides tells us the story of her inspiring communist grandmother. Partition baby Vikas Gogona is hilarious and poignant in his monologue looking back at the historical event that continues to divide South Asia.
In between these vignettes, transitions take on a life of their own in DNA with beautiful atmospheric movement sequences directed by Jessica Lucia Andrade. These stand alone movements sculptures is where you get to see the company come together as an ensemble and become an extension of the world making set, lighting and sound. The production values far exceeded expectations for a Young Company and possessed a creative confidence that had the audience in raptures.
Expertly directed by international theatre director, writer, dramaturg and facilitator Natasha Kathi-Chandra who joined Tara Theatre as Associate Director in February 2022. Kathi-Chandra told the People of Theatre about the Young Company’s collaborative process which focused on communal storytelling and creating safe spaces to share language, music and ideas as informed by the stories of their ancestors.
Yet another accomplished debut from Tara Theatre who seem to be leading the way for the South Asian theatre scene at the moment. The buzz around this production brought multiple generations of South Asian theatremakers to the press night, emerging and established both, to an unassuming part of London. Though now past I’d urge you to check out their upcoming showcase of new writing Nova: Table Reads on the 19 May.
By Tasnim Siddiqa Amin.
Follow Tasnim on Instagram: @tasnimsiddiqaamin, Twitter: t_siddiqa_amin & WordPress.
DNA was shown from Tuesday 18th until Saturday 22nd April 2023 at Tara Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…