Mother Tongues from Farther Lands

Shobna Gulati

By Sajeela Kershi 

True stories told by Shobu Kapoor, Shyama Perera and Sajeela Kershi

Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton

Tuesday 23 May @ 7.30pm


‘Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them’

Mother Tongues from Farther Lands is a spoken word theatre show full of fascinating, fearless and funny stories from South Asian women – they are the backbone of their culture, but a group whose voices are too often forgotten.

“It was my mother- not my father- who was the breadwinner.”

Commissioned by Southbank Centre’s Alchemy, the largest UK festival inspired by South Asian culture,  Mother Tongues from Farther Lands has been produced in partnership with Alchemy national partners: Black Country Touring, Cast Doncaster and Oldham Coliseum Theatre, and supported by Arts Council England.  Taking inspiration from communities across the UK, the production is being staged at Oldham Coliseum Theatre (May 11), Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London (May 20) as part of Alchemy, Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton (May 23) and Cast in Doncaster (June 3).

Sajeela Kershi

Through a series of lively regional workshops, Sajeela Kershi (comedian, writer and creator of the multi-award-winning, sell-out show Immigrant Diaries) ‘fused’ professional performers Shobu Kapoor (EastEnders, Citizen Khan), Shobna Gulati (Dinnerlandies, Coronation Street) and journalist Shyama Perera together with non-performers from Britain’s South Asian communities, some from extremely vulnerable and challenged backgrounds.

“I worked hard so that my children got the education denied to me.”

The result of this unique creative exchange is an absorbing collection of moving and entertaining stories that address the gender imbalance experienced in some British South Asian communities. The devised monologues show the strength, tenacity, bravery and humour at the core of these diverse and ‘kick ass’ women!

“Mum ran down the street after the bullies, waving her shoe, swearing in Punjabi – ‘oi! bastard bisen buttocks come near my children, I hit you with chapaal’.”

h“Telling another person’s story puts a huge responsibility on my shoulders” says Shobu Kapoor, actress, writer and director. “I have to honour them, but also try and be as three-dimensional as possible, which means shedding light also on the shadow side of someone’s personality. Hopefully, an emotionally rounded portrayal draws in the audience in a way that a totally factual rendering may not, and the people whose stories I’m telling feel that they and their experiences have been truthfully told.”

Actress Shobna Gulati adds: “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to work within a female-led team of diverse artists where we can engage with, recognise and celebrate the contributions of women from our communities from all backgrounds; with a view to share our experiences of our life journeys, finding a collective joy, freedom to release and solace.”



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