Indhu Rubasingham June 2012 © Alex Brenner
The Tricycle theatre has been at the forefront of new writing and politically motivated productions since being established in 1980. Nestled in the bustling heart of Kilburn it embraces the multi cultural community of North West London through its challenging and diverse plays. Award-winning director Indhu Rubasingham opens the theatre's exciting new season in her new position as artistic director picking up the torch from Nicholas Kent after his 28 years of phenomenal work in the role.
When questioned on her feelings about her new position Rubasingham's reverence for the theatre and appreciation of the weighty task she is undertaking are obvious.
'It's huge, absolutely huge. It was daunting to begin with and the legacy that Nicholas Kent's left is outstanding. But now I feel really excited about the season ahead.'
Indhu will be directing two of the season's upcoming productions, including Lolita Chakrabarti's play Red Velvet which is premiering at the Tricycle in October. This biographical tale of Shakespearian African American actor Ira Aldridge and his battle to be accepted as a classical actor in the 1830s west end is emblematic of the stimulating stories that Tricycle is renowned for telling. Having had a long-standing relationship with the theatre since directing Roy Williams play Starstruck in 1998, Rubasingham says that the Tricycle is one of the theatre's that she has a natural empathy with.
'My passion is new writing, and communicating different and unheard voices. Working at the Tricycle one of my main aims is to bring the community together and put on plays that enable the audience to see the world through different lenses, so that's what's governing my programme.'
Adrian Lester, Red Velvet, Tricycle Theatre, Photo Hugo Glendinning
The season also includes another world premier of Phillip Himberg's Paper Dolls. This play explores the clash of cultures between the retired Jewish community and Filipino workers in an Israeli care home which looks set to be a demanding production for Indhu to exercise her acute directional flair upon. Other productions include One Monkey don't Stop No Show by Don Evans which expounds ingrained personal prejudices within the 1970s African American community. Finally a children's production of The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman brings eastern folklore to life for Kilburn's younger audiences. Rubasingham shares that the location of the theatre is hugely relevant. 'Brent is actually the most diverse borough in London and if I'm speaking to local communities and bringing them in then I'm in an international dialogue.'
Creating opportunities for young people and catering for child audiences is an enormous part of the Tricycle's ethos. Rubasingham reveals that she plans to work very closely with the theatre's educational department.
'The work they do is amazing and what I want to do is bring what happens on stage and what happens in the creative process even closer together. I'm very proud of that element of the theatre.'
The Tricycle runs a huge range of creative activities and their drama workshops cater for people aged from 3 to 26. Their programme Limelight for 14 to 16 year olds is hugely popular and as Educational Director Gillian Christie explains 'The issues that teenagers are facing are humongous. They deal with so many things and there are so many environments that teenagers are being brought up in. The younger we can get people into the building the more they can explore their thoughts and feelings and feel confident.'
Christie discloses that Rubasingham's work directly informs the work of the educational department. 'We're hoping to draw some similarities with the main programme. Red Velvet is about a black Shakespearian actor that a lot of young people won't know about, it's about identity and the wider issues in the world at that time. Indhu's all about uniting people and I think there's a lot young people can tap into with Red Velvet.'
With some stunning new productions coming up and vast amounts of work being done with the local community the upcoming season at the Tricycle's certainly seems set to do great things