Tara Theatre have today announced that the late Abdul Shayek’s production of Silence will tour the UK to Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Curve Theatre Leicester, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and HOME, Manchester in Spring 2024. The play premiered in 2022 at the Donmar Warehouse to mark 75 years since the Partition of India examining the legacy of this brutal moment in history. Abdul Shayek, former Artistic Director of Tara Theatre, directed the original production and had developed this version for touring at the time of his death in August 2023. Iqbal Khan, Associate Director of Birmingham Rep, and a friend and colleague of Abdul’s, will step in to direct the touring version.
Silence is adapted from the testimonies and stories of people who lived through partition. It is based on Kavita Puri’s acclaimed book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories and written by Sonali Bhattacharyya, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Ishy Din and Alexandra Wood.
The production opens at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch on 6 April 2024, with a Press Night on 10 April 2024. It then runs at Curve Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Manchester’s HOME.
Casting for the tour will be announced in due course.
Helen Jeffreys, Executive Director and CEO, Tara Theatre, said “It is a testament to the lasting impact of the work that Abdul made that we are touring Silence. This production is indicative of his values and his creative practice. Silence brings to the stage a multitude of real-life testimonies and experiences; it is a piece of extraordinary communal storytelling brought together by four writers giving voice to what is our shared history. Abdul was working on the tour of Silence only a few months ago, and I know he would be delighted and proud to see this announcement today.
We are immensely pleased and grateful to be producing this next iteration of Silence under the stewardship of Iqbal Khan’s direction. Iqbal’s wealth of experience as a director as well as his close personal and professional relationship with Abdul, mean that that production could not be in better hands as we share Silence with audiences across the UK.”
Iqbal Khan, Director of the touring production, said “I saw a version of this piece at the Donmar and was struck then with the power and ambition of Abdul’s initiative. He was a generous and radical artist, a leader keen to find new ways to embrace the unacknowledged or excluded.
His being taken from us is a terrible rupture, both personally and to the new community of artists and audiences he was engaging. It is a great privilege to be asked by Tara Theatre to attempt to continue this work on Silence and make it all he hoped it could be as a production and urgent testimony.”
The 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan saw millions uprooted and resulted in unspeakable violence. It would shape modern Britain forever. Witnesses to this brutal moment in history live among us, yet the stories of that time remain shrouded in silence.
75 years later, Silence is aplay focused on communal storytelling – presenting a shared history inspired by the remarkable personal testimonies of people who lived through the last days of the British Raj.
“It was a great tragedy. We were friends one day and enemies the next. I will take these things to my grave.”
Iqbal Khan is an Associate Director of Birmingham Rep, an Associate Artist of Box Clever Theatre Company, and the Artistic Director of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. He has worked extensively with the RSC, as well as directing for opera and classical music events. Credits include Othello, The Wildman of the West Indies and Shakespeare at The Bowl. He has directed in Paris, Japan (awarded a year long prestigious fellowship, based in Tokyo), had recent residencies and delivered lectures at Michigan State, La Fayette, Nanjing, and was the 2019 Michael Douglas Visiting Artist at UC Santa Barbara.
Silence is adapted from Kavita Puri’s acclaimed book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories.
Original London production co-produced with Donmar Warehouse.