Chandica Arts Company produced new writing for theatre with Raminder Kaur as artistic director and Seema Rajapaksa as production manager and coordinator.
Draupadi’s Robes, in collaboration with Action-in-Reaction, explores the friendship of two British Asian women – one that blossoms into a love that challenges patriarchal convention. Steeped in Indian mythology and set in contemporary Britain, the drama highlights Asian women’s strengths and sexualities.
The play was written and directed by Raminder Kaur and starred Parminder Sekhon and Poulomi Desai. The production included poetry, music and dance with performers from London’s Asian LGBTTQI communities. Production management was by Iqbal Husain, set and stage management by Bill Allen, and poster design by Guy. Draupadi’s Robes was performed in 1993 at Tara Arts Studio and SOAS, University of London.
Bullets through the Golden Stream is an award-winning play that took a non-sectarian look at the turmoil in Punjab before and after the storming of the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in 1984. Otherwise known as Operation Bluestar, the military raid to oust separatists in the holy shrine led to the assassination of the Indian prime minister by her Sikh bodyguards, followed by retaliatory pogroms against Sikhs in India. Family tensions come to a boiling point in this hot climate of religious and political antagonisms. The spiritual musings of a grandmother dying from cancer in India are overlain by fragmented memories of a teenage daughter in contemporary Britain wondering about the fate of her parents who were then visiting Punjab at the time of the troubles.
Bullets through the Golden Stream was one of the first theatre productions to integrate film projections and live performance on stage. It starred Amerjit Deu, Sunny Bharti, Surendra Kochar, Seva Dhalivaal and Paven Virk. It was written and directed by Raminder Kaur with video art direction by Gayani Sujeewa, lighting design by Alex Wardle, stage management by Alex Wardle and Bill Allen, set design by Charlie Elliot, and sound design by Masse. The poster was designed by Conor O’Dwyer and photography by Amarjit Phull.
Bullets through the Golden Stream was performed in 1994 and 1997 at Tricycle Theatre, Chats Palace, Jacksons Lane, Watermans Arts Centre, Paul Robeson, Willesden Green Library Centre, Bilston College, Watford Palace Theatre, The Drum, Leicester Haymarket, Coventry Belgrade and Southampton Gantry. The 1997 tour was supported by the Arts Council of England, London Arts Board, Foundation for Sport and the Arts, London Borough Grants Committee and InPace.
Pregnant Pauses focuses on a single British Asian woman’s struggle to survive in the belly of the metropolis. After finding herself accidentally pregnant, she goes through a traumatic time about whether to continue with the pregnancy. The drama is peppered with loving and sometimes psychotic conversations with her unborn baby.
The play was written by Raminder Kaur, directed and poster photography by Gayani Sujeewa, designed by Anna Frenjel and starred Asha Kahlon.
Pregnant Pauses was performed in 1997 at Tara Arts Studio for the Wandsworth Arts Festival and was supported by Wandsworth Council.
Futures was co-written by young people collaborating with Raminder Kaur in east London at the Half Moon Theatre.
Centred on their hopes, aspirations, dreams and fantasies, Futures was performed by youth at Wilton Music Hall in London in 1999, and filmed and supported by LWT Youth Talent Challenge.
Spirit of the Age was devised to commemorate the three hundredth year in 1699 of the Khalsa (meaning sovereign or free). In this year, the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, conferred spiritual leadership to the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, at a time of brutal religious persecution. The drama highlights how the Khalsa stands for political, social and gender justice while seeking to eradicate fears and superstition of all kinds.
Spirit of the Age was written and directed by Raminder Kaur and performed by young people and Indian martial arts performers (gatka) at Halifax Town Hall in 1999.
Other scripts by Raminder Kaur
Fair's (Not) Fair! for Places for All? A Multi-Media Investigation in an English City, was based on a hundred oral histories collected by Ben Rogaly and Kaveri Qureshi in Peterborough. The story revolves around a funfair with all its thrills, spills and excitement. But something sinister lurks in the tarpaulin – a dead body that the fair manager is at pains to hide. Against this background, turf wars play themselves out in the boxing ring, and diverse neighbours try to remain friends against all the tensions of multiracial living and right wing populism.
Fair's (Not) Fair! was written by Raminder Kaur and directed by Mukul Ahmed. It included colour-blind casting with young people working with seasoned actors: Darryl Archer, Kristina Burns, Rez Kabir, Erena Kaptani and Rebekah Lord. Production management was by Keely Mills and Jabeen Shafee, stage management by Alex Airey and Paul Spence, set design by Stuart Payn with artwork by Chris Porsz and Jaroslaw Sokol, and sound design by Ashleigh Valintine. The photograph for the flyer was provided by David Glenn and designed by Zain Awan.
Fair's (Not) Fair! was performed in 2012 at Peterborough United Football Club (The POSH), St Paul’s Church, New England, Gladstone Park Community Centre, and the Green Backyard. It was supported by Ben Rogaly’s Fellowship funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Research Councils’ Connected Communities Research Programme, in partnership with the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, and its Citizen Power Peterborough programme. http://placesforall.co.uk/theatre/.
Raminder Kaur has also made three short films based on the workshops, rehearsals and performances with young people and professional actors:
Fun Fear about kaleidoscopic experiences and stories about the funfair.
Peopleborough - an audio-visual stroll through people's lives, histories and interracial relations in Peterborough.
Turning the Mirror about dreams and reflections on birth, death, trouble and peace.
ENIG-MAS is inspired by the revolutionary poet-musician, Kazi Nazrul Islam's novel, Kuhelika. The story is set in 1930s India and 2000s Britain, and traces a revolutionary's tortured soul in colonial India, following it through to the current era where Muslim men feel disenfranchised in Britain. With a series of incidents inextricably linked through intrigue, sorrow, humour and happiness, the play also highlights the contributions of women in struggles for justice while trying to rebuild their lives after traumatic events in their lives. Spanning three generations, it reflects on who we were, what we have become and where we are going?
ENIG-MAS was written by Raminder Kaur and directed by Mukul Ahmed for Mukul and Ghetto Tigers. It was colour-blind casted with Rez Kabir, Yuni Shin, Tanusree Guha, Shadia Sharmin, Lizzie Clarke, Deven Modha, Linda Miller and Francis Woolf. Design was by Marguerite Alice Roberta Sielle, stage management by Paul Micah and lighting design by Sherry Coenen Brown.
The play was performed at Rich Mix and Brady Arts Centre with a rehearsed reading at Kobi Nazrul Centre in 2014. The production was supported by the Arts Council of England.