Sweet Cider by new playwright Em Hussain features a cast of nine, including fresh young British Asian talent Mez Galaria, Rajneed Sidhu and Sagar Radia (Waking the Dead, Britz).
Sweet Cider is about a community in crisis. Two Pakistani girls have run from their families: one is hunted, the other forgotten. Their bid for freedom has led them to an Asian women’s refuge in a nearby Northern town. But with dialogue between the generations impossible, the girls soon ask themselves how sweet freedom really is.
Sweet Cider is the debut play by Em Hussain. The play is based, in part, on her own experiences: “I was 16 when I ended up in an Asian women’s refuge. On my second night there, the girls took me to a pub – I had never been in a pub in my life! I had no idea what to drink and how to ask for it. The girls told me to ask for sweet cider…”
Set entirely in an urban park, Sweet Cider follows two runaway girls, Tazeem and Nosheen, who live in an Asian women’s refuge: one is hunted, the other has been ostracised. It portrays the dilemma faced by people who are brought up in a specific way and the demands put upon them. It also follows other members of the community as well as the two runaway girls: a father and the ‘bounty hunter’ he has employed, two local Pakistani boys and an elderly woman who has been thrown out by her daughter-in-law. Sweet Cider is a poignant story of fractured family ties, exploring why these two girls have run away. Each year thousands of young British Asian girls run away from their families, for many different and complex reasons.
Em Hussain first came to the company through Tamasha New Writing, part of the Tamasha Developing Artists programme. Tamasha New Writing is a unique, intensive programme to find new British Asian voices for theatre. Previous writers whose work has been workshopped by Tamasha include actor Nadim Sawalha, resulting in the cult show, All I Want is a British Passport! Both of the company’s Artists-in-Residence, Amman Brar and Sonia Likhari, also came via Tamasha New Writing.
Sweet Cider is directed by Kristine Landon-Smith. Tamasha’s recent work directed by KristinLandon-Smith includes Lyrical MC (Oval House, Soho Theatre, Unicorn, Half Moon) as well as the return London seasons and UK tours of A Fine Balance (Hampstead, Birmingham Rep, Nuffield) and The Trouble With Asian Men (Soho Theatre, Arts Depot, Contact Manchester, Citizens Glasgow, Alhambra Bradford). Both of these latter productions returned by popular demand following earlier sell-out seasons. Tamasha is currently developing a production of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, adapted for the stage as a Bollywood musical by Deepak Verma, in collaboration with Oldham Coliseum and in association with The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith for 2009.
Kristine Landon-Smith and Sudha Bhuchar founded Tamasha in 1989. Tamasha has commissioned and created an extraordinary body of work, ranging from interpretations of literary classics, through vibrant musicals and devised comedy, to groundbreaking new writing.
Some of Tamasha’s best known productions include the Olivier-nominated East is East by Ayub Khan Din, (which became the film) and the sell-out adaptation of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Tamasha alumni include Jimi Mistry, Parminder Nagra, Chris Bisson, Nina Wadia, Archie Punjabi and Sunetra Sarker. In 2004 Tamasha launched Tamasha Developing Artists: a programme of professional development initiatives for emerging and established writers, directors, designers and performers.