SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asian Institute brings decolonisation to the stage through verbatim theatre

28 January 2019

SOAS South Asia Institute (SAI), in collaboration with theatre company Bhuchar Boulevard, will next month host theatre performances at SOAS which explore the concept of decolonisation.

The verbatim theatre show, Decolonisation-not just a buzzword, is based on conversations the theatre company has had with members of the SOAS community about race, equality and identity and examines individual responses to decolonisation.

Decolonising theatre project

Verbatim theatre brings these compelling stories to the stage in one conversation. Exploring themes that range from representation and reparation to reflexivity in pedagogy, the show brings together voices from the SOAS community which are striving for transformative action.

Professor Edward Simpson, Director of the SOAS South Asia Institute said: “With this project, we were keen to encourage fresh conversations out in the corridors at SOAS between people who perhaps don’t speak to one another other, either because they don’t have access or because they don’t know that they can. And then we were keen to go beyond this, to think about where the SOAS conversation on decolonising places us in the wider world.”

The Decolonising SOAS Project aims to make what is taught and how it is taught more responsive to the problems of racialised privilege and discrimination within teaching practice. The project was established in 2016 in response to strong student interest in 'Decolonising the Curriculum', led by student sabbatical officers and the student society Decolonising Our Minds, embedded in a wider history of anti-racist activity as SOAS. The project working group has since been focusing on what this wider agenda might mean at SOAS.

Dr Meera Sabaratnam, Chair of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group, said: “In a nutshell decolonising is being reflexive about the forms of power and imbalance resulting from western histories of domination - thinking about how they operate in the university, and trying to overcome those barriers and empower people to rethink the parameters of what they are doing.

“It is also connected to a public conversation in Britain about who we are, what we are about – there are increasingly contested ideas of what the legacy of Empire is all about, and who it benefited, what we should take from it, and even what it means to think about Britain as a nation state”.

The performances will be held on: Thursday 7 February at 6pm (Priority given to SOAS community) and Friday 8 February at 7pm. Collaborating artists include: Sudha Bhuchar, Suman Bhuchar, Neela Dole┼żalová and Kristine Landon-Smith, who also directs the show.

For further details and to register, visit the event page.