The information on this website mainly comes  from the AHRC-funded project on the history of British South Asian theatre, led by Professor Graham Ley, that took place between 2004 and 2008 in the Department of Drama, at the University of Exeter. This was the first funded project which aimed to research and document the histories of South Asian theatre in Britain. As well as plays, we looked at language theatres, musicals, performance art, and dance-theatre. We reached back to the 1950s to see the stories of early practitioners moving to and from the UK and the Indian subcontinent, through to the work of the first established theatre companies such as Tara Arts, also looking at significant but less well-known initiatives such as the Hounslow Arts Co-operative, and finishing with contemporary practitioners such as Rajni Shah who crosses boundaries of genre and form. We interviewed a large number of key practitioners, and gathered archival material, to begin to map the complex histories of theatre amongst British South Asian communities. The project concluded with a conference organised by the project research fellow, Dr Sarah Dadswell, involving both practitioners and academics. More information can be found on the project website. Following this, Professor Jerri Daboo, who had been part of the project, began a new AHRC-funded project researching the cultural histories of Southall, in association with the Southall Story organisation. This produced further information and resources relating to the histories and practices of the British South Asian communities.


‘Shakespeare’s Macbeth’, Tara Arts in association with Queen’s Hall Arts and Black Theatre Live, 2015. Copyright: Tara Arts

This website shares some of the information gathered from these projects to act as a resource for those interested in these histories. The website will grow over time as more information is added, and we hope that it will contribute to the revealing of these important histories and practices that have been a major part of theatre in Britain.

Books published from the British South Asian theatre project:

Ley, Graham and Dadswell, Sarah, eds, British South Asian Theatres: A Documented History, (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2011)

Ley, Graham and Dadswell, Sarah, eds, Critical Essays on British South Asian Theatre (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2011)

Video with Graham and Jerri discussing the projects:

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