Dara – Lyttelton Theatre


The Story of the Heirs to the Mughal Empire Opens at the National Theatre

1659, Mughal India. The imperial court, a place of opulence, excess, music, drugs, eunuchs and harems. Two brothers, whose mother’s death inspired the Taj Mahal, are heirs to this Muslim empire. Now they fight ferociously for succession. Dara, the crown prince, has the love of the people – and of his emperor father – but younger brother Aurangzeb holds a different vision for India’s future. Islam inspires poetry in Dara, puritanical rigour in Aurangzeb. Can Jahanara, their beloved sister, assuage Aurangzeb’s resolve to seize the Peacock Throne and purge the empire? 

Spanning the princes’ lives from cradle to grave, DARA is an intense domestic drama of global consequence – for India then and for our world now.

DARA, adapted by Tanya Ronder from Shahid Nadeem’s play, originally performed by Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan, opens in the Lyttelton Theatre on 27 January, directed by Nadia Fall.  The cast is Esh Alladi, Nathalie Armin, Rudi Dharmalingam, Emilio Doorgasingh, Vincent Ebrahim, Mariam Haque, Indira Joshi, Scott Karim, Nicholas Khan, Ranjit Krishnamma, Anjli Mohindra, Simon Nagra, Ronak Patani, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Anneika Rose, Chook Sibtain, Gurjeet Singh, Liya Tassisa, Zubin Varla, Anjana Vasan, Gary Wood and Sargon Yelda. DARA will be designed by Katrina Lindsay with lighting by Neil Austin, music by Niraj Chag, sound design by Carolyn Downing, movement by Liam Steel and fight direction by Kate Waters.

Shahid Nadeem is a co-founder and Executive Director of Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan, where DARA was originally performed.

Tanya Ronder’s plays include Table and an adaptation of Pirandello’s Liolá for the National; adaptations of Macbett for the RSC, Filumena and Blood Wedding for the Almeida, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and Vernon God Little (nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play) and Peribanez for the Young Vic.

Nadia Fall’s work at the NT includes Home, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Chewing Gum Dreams and Hymn. Other recent work includes Hobson’s Choice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Disgraced at the Bush Theatre.

Previews from 20 January, press night 27 January, playing until 4 April

Press night: Tuesday 27 January

Contact: Susie Newbery on 020 7452 3061 / snewbery@nationaltheatre.org.uk


Shahid Nadeem and Anwar Akhtar

Monday 26 January, 6pm (1hr), Cottesloe Room

Shahid Nadeem, writer and director of the original version of Dara, is joined by production consultant Anwar Akhtar to discuss the play and its journey with Ajoka Theatre, as well as looking at the broader theatrical and cultural landscape of Pakistan. Chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Nadia Fall and Tanya Ronder on Dara

Wednesday 18 March, 6pm (45 mins), Lyttelton Theatre

The director and playwright discuss the production.


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