Harbhajan Virdi

youth theatre group poster
One of the plays directed by Harbhajan for the Youth Drama Group in Southall

Interviewed by Dominic Rai and Graham Ley on 4 November 2005,

Interview edited by Giselle Garcia

Listen to interview:

Harbhajan Virdi has played a major part in the development of British South Asian theatre, working as a director and teacher. After being born in the Punjab, and growing up in Kenya, he studied acting and directing at RADA in the early 1960s, one of the very first Asians to do do. He later worked as a journalist, and subsequently in television as a researcher. He has directed many theatre productions, and has been a champion of mixed-race casting initiatives.

Timeline for Interview:
00:00-11:46: How it all started for him and his first Beckett play, End Game
11:47- 17:10: On the beginnings of A Passage to India and his mixed race casting legacy.. 17:10: Mixed Race casting, his work in India as a critic
19:36: On his return to Nairobi upon his father’s request
A Passage to India is produced again
21:05- 24:16:  Applying to the BBC
24:16- 35:06: The beginning of To Anchor a Cloud and the collaboration with the Youth Drama Group in Southhall, and the Youth Festivals, including at the Royal Albert Hall in 1976.

32 Passage to India 1964, flier

Flyer for ‘A Passage to India’ directed by Harbhajan Virdi in 1964, at the Commonwealth Institute. The production was presented and promoted by Nava Kala cultural institute, which was in an Indian restaurant in London, and became an important meeting place for artists.