Artists For Alchemy 2015 Announced


Event explores cultural connections between UK and the Indian subcontinent

Alchemy, Southbank Centre’s exploration of the cultural connections between the UK and the Indian subcontinent, returns for its sixth year (15 – 25 May) celebrating and exploring the region’s art, artists and society as a whole. Alchemy presents exciting collaborations and new work from both emerging and legendary artists, across art forms – dance, music, theatre, design, comedy and literature – as well as a stimulating programme of workshops, book clubs, talks and debates.

Festival highlights include:

  • Internationally-renowned tabla musician Zakir Hussain traverses cultural boundaries for a concert with traditional Irish and Scottish musicians (21 May)

  • Bollywood singer and playback artist Shreya Ghoshal plays the Royal Festival Hall for the first time, presented by Rock On Music (23 May)

  • World-famous Jaipur Literature Festival returns for an expanded two-day residency exploring the themes of politics, economics, myth and migration (16-17 May)

  • Searing Indian play, Nirbhaya, written and directed by Yaël Farber, returns to Southbank Centre investigating gender-based violence following the tragic events of the 2012 Delhi bus rape (21-24 May)

  • Synchronised draws ticket-holders off-site to a sensational pool-based production combining synchronised swimming, kathak dance, as well as live music and song (23-24 May)

  • Contemporary kathak dance projects: Aditi Mangaldas in Timeless (15 May); Sonia Sabri in Occasionally We Skype (16 May); and dancer/choreographer Nahid Siddiqui presents a work in progress, Maati – infusing the Sufi folk spirit of the Punjab (15 May)

  • Director Gurinder Chadha hosts a Bend it Like Beckham talk with the musical’s director and Bhangra legend Kuljit Bhamra ahead of its West End premiere (17 May) as well as a panel with stars off the hit TV show Desi Rascals (23 May)

  • Sixteen poets from India, Wales, Pakistan and Scotland collaborate to take part in City to City, the British Council’s first literary presentation at Alchemy (23 May)

  • Hardeep Singh Kohli and Shazia Mirza perform the best in British Asian comedy in Alchemedians Live (24 May) with an accompanying comedy school for aspiring comedians led by Singh Kohli.

  • London-based progressive pop multi-instrumentalist Bishi (25 May) and India-based experimental music pioneers Wild City (20 May) perform as part of the musical programme

  • Engaging children’s show Arabian Nights (23-24 May) tells the story of Ali Baba, Aladdin and a genie

  • British sarod maestro Soumik Datta plays his score to Satyajit Ray’s classic 1969 film King of Ghosts with musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, in a London premiere (19 May)

  • Acclaimed sitar player Baluji Shrivastav workshops the first ever Urdu oratorio The Tragic Love of Sohini and Mahiva with Oscar-winning composer Dario Marianelli, choreographer Gauri Sharma Tripathi and puppeteer Jonny Dixon (17 May)

  • UK’s first ever visit by Nrityagram dancers, direct from the world-renowned Odissi dance centre in Bangalore (19 May)

Talks and panel discussions are an important part of Alchemy and this year include cultural commentator Maya Jaggi leading an afternoon of discussions in the Purcell Room exploring Narendra Modi one year on. Actress and writer Meera Syal discusses her first novel in sixteen years The House of Hidden Mothers exploring the moving topic of surrogacy in India. Bloggers, Vloggers and the YouTube Generation, hosted by Noreen Khan and presented with BBC Asian Network, introduces leaders of online commentary; professional news hound Nihal discusses 50 Years of Asian Programming on the BBC; and the LGBT community debates cultural and political issues in Making Progress or Losing Ground followed by a club night to cap off the day.

At the heart of Alchemy there are a range of free events. Southbank Centre’s foyers will be transformed with art installations from UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, including photo exhibition The Singh Project, an interactive installation Pother Golpo – Street Stories of Bangladesh and Dil Phaink, an audiovisual showcase of Pakistani street culture, cult cinema, visual memory and matters of the heart. Marking 200 years of peace and diplomatic relations with the UK, Nepal is playing a part in Alchemy for the first time this year as artists and local school children collaborate to create traditional Mandala art installations taking over the Clore Ballroom and outdoor terraces.

The latter three projects are in partnership with the British Council, currently in its fifth year of partnering with Alchemy. Minds to Lose in the Hayward Project Space is the first UK solo exhibition by multimedia artist Neha Choksi. Free foyer shows range from Kathakali, a traditional dramatic production dating back to the origins of Indian theatre, to a series of UK based contemporary musical artists Unnati Dasgupta, Shama Rahman and Project 12.

Street food inspired by the Alchemy countries is being served in the Festival Village and the Southbank Centre Square by Kerb Market.

This year sees Alchemy tour for the first time across the UK to Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Oldham), Cast (Doncaster) and Black Country Touring (across the Black Country). The productions on tour are Nirbhaya; Sonia Sabri with Occasionally We Skype; Colours of FrustrAsian directed by Kully Thiarai; Variety is the Spice, a music and comedy variety show with artists from the North West; and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli examining the relationship between food and cultural history in knives, forks and fingers.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “Alchemy, now in its sixth year, continues to broaden the scope of its offering, not only in the wealth and diversity of cultural activities, performance, debate and learning, but in the new touring programme launched this year. This is a hugely exciting opportunity to collaborate with arts centres across the UK and extend the reach of Southbank Centre’s acclaimed festival and artists to new audiences.

“I’m particularly proud that alongside an array of cultural events Alchemy also offers a platform to explore vital contemporary issues such as the 2012 Delhi gang rape in Yaël Farber’s extraordinarily powerful play Nirbhaya and One Year On, a discussion around Prime Minister Modi’s first year in office. We have a responsibility to tell these stories, whilst celebrating our cultural connections, and the legacy and vitality of all this region has to offer.”

With a range of both ticketed and free events, Southbank Centre will captivate the beauty, energy and enchanting work inspired by South Asia.

For tickets please see: / 0844 847 9910


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here