Monday 8th November, 2021
Friday 13th November, 2020
Wednesday 11th November, 2020
Wednesday 17th June, 2020
Monday 1st June, 2020
Tuesday 26th May, 2020
Thursday 14th May, 2020

Dara Screening

Tuesday 18th October, 2016

On the 13th October 2016 URBED and The Samosa were delighted to put on a free screening of the play Dara at 70 Oxford Street Manchester (formally Cornerhouse).  The screening was followed by an open discussion chaired by David Rudlin (Director of URBED) with Anwar Akhtar (Director of The Samosa and production consultant for Dara) and Amina Lone (Hulme Ward Councillor and Director of the Social Action and Research Foundation).

Dara is the portrayal of the 17th century Moghul Royals, the Shah Jahan family and addresses issues of freedom, history and religious practice that were and still are present within South Asia and the UK. The play was the product of collaboration between the National Theatre and Ajokha Theatre in Lahore and was the first time a work by a Pakistani theatre company has been staged by the National Theatre.  A high quality recording was made of the full live performance for cultural, educational and arts screenings, which enabled us to share the production with new audiences in Manchester.

Over 100 people attended and we were pleased to see large numbers from South Asian communities, who are often under represented in the Manchester arts scene. Younger attendees included students from Manchester’s colleges and Universities who were excited to get the opportunity to see a National Theatre production without the high cost of ticket prices. The audience were completely engaged by the production, particularly during the tense trial scene, which elicited gasps and murmurings; It was easy to forget that the story was not unfolding live on stage.

Many attendees stayed on for what turned into a fascinating open discussion with Amina, Anwar and David. The play prompted a lively and inclusive dialogue between audience members ranging from politics, religion, education, community and family. Parallels and contrasts were drawn between Pakistan, Indian history and the UK and between the 17th century and the present day. Islam was compared with other religions that have experienced problems with empire, extremism and internal conflicts and there was discussion on the nature of power, religion, royalty and succession.

Audience members and the panel compared Dara’s story with other history plays such as The Crucible as well as moments within British history, including the conflict between King Charles 1st and Oliver Cromwell, the reign of Elizabeth 1st, and the conflicts with Spain and the Vatican.

Anwar described some of the research process that the National Theatre team, led by Nadia Fall and Tanya Ronder, undertook as they developed the play with Ajoka Theatre, in response to specific questions from the audience on the production process and values behind the work.

There were several requests for more inter-cultural arts events of this nature aimed at young people in Manchester. Some people also expressed concern at the lack of diversity in the arts generally and wanted more cultural specific plays in mainstream theatres as well as other venues.

Related projects

  • The audience take their seats
  • David, Amina and Anwar participate in the audience discussion
  • David, Amina and Anwar participate in the audience discussion
  • Anwar chats with members of the audience after the event