British South Asian stories and the importance of representation

The Arts are essential for showcasing a diverse range of stories and talent. A lack of representation of all cultures has been on government agendas, protested in our streets, and caused much needed change at ceremonies like the Oscars. It’s a growing issue and as we emerge from the height of lockdown where the arts were hit hard, it’s never been more important to ensure we return to a wide range of representation ingrained into everyday life.

We should see people of different cultures and backgrounds exhibiting artwork, publishing books, and performing on the stage and screen. The creative industries are, after all, the lifeblood of identity and individual expression. Without a mix experiences life would be extremely bland. An abundant range of faces, voices, and words should be a part of our very existence, making us more open and informed.

 

British South Asian representation has grown in force over the past decade. Through astute observation and narrative drive, the stories reflect the wider social and political dynamics of the South Asian diaspora. Whether it’s a book you can’t put down or a magical cinema experience, the British South Asian voice has been one that captures audiences young and old. From admiring the determination of young female footballers in Bend It Like Beckham or feeling captivated by author Hanif Kureishi’s depictions of belonging, the British South Asian experience is one that resonates with many.

 

British South Asian stories have always played a part in the fabric of theatre, but for the first time there’s now a markedly Asian influence. Most of these voices are young and the majority of them are female. 

Within these is Tanika Gupta’s remarkable play Love N Stuff, which focusses on a couple torn between remaining in Britain and returning to India. Through the viewpoint of Bindi and Mansoor, who have been happily married for several years, Gupta creates a divide when Mansoor chooses to move back to India, the play opening with Mansoor in a departure lounge at the airport.

Through a heart-warming script and clever multi-roling, Gupta demonstrates the part that the local community plays in individual matters. Neighbourhood being a prevalent theme for British South Asian theatre, Gupta shines a light on the tight-knit community and the power of being seen.

 

Love N Stuff runs at the Coliseum until 2 October, then heads out on tour to Watford Palace Theatre (5-9 October) and Sheffield Crucible Studio (13 - 16 October)

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