Curtain raised on new Tara Theatre in Earlsfield
Published: Thursday 1st September 16
The official opening of Tara Theatre, a new state of the art home for the acclaimed Tara Arts, the oldest diverse multicultural theatre company in the UK, took place today on Garratt Lane, Earlsfield.
Designed by Julian Middleton of AEDAS Arts Team, the venue features a superbly equipped 100-seat auditorium, a fully sound-proofed rehearsal studio/workshop space, rooftop offices, bar and an outdoor patio garden.
The new-look theatre. Photo: Helene Binet
The original architecture of an Edwardian terraced building has been given a new lease of life, with the insertion of light-filled spaces and a modern interior designed by Claudia Mayer, showcasing beautiful handcrafted Indian wooden features. The building boasts a series of sustainable technologies including solar panels and green sedum roofs.
The opening production is a new Tara Arts commission: the first stage adaptation of Abdul Halim Sharar’s prescient Urdu novel Paradise of the Assassins, written in 1899 - a love story exploring the ideology of the medieval assassins sect. The adaptation is written and directed by Anthony Clark, who directed Tara’s first professional show in 1983.
Plans are underway for staging 70 events marking the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence in 2017.
Tara Arts is the only diverse, multicultural theatre company to have its own dedicated theatre building. Founded in 1977 by the pioneering theatre director Jatinder Verma, the first director from a diverse background to be invited to direct at the National Theatre (Tartuffe, 1989), Tara has actively supported and inspired the development of theatre companies working in diverse communities. Although London now boasts over 60 touring theatre companies led by diverse artists, none has a dedicated theatre building and outside London there are no theatres led by diverse artists.
The development of the new Tara Theatre was made possible by support from Arts Council England, with additional funding from many Trusts and Foundations and over 1,400 generous individuals.
The auditorium: Photo Helene Binet
The development was approved by Wandsworth Council in 2012.
Tara’s Artistic Director Jatinder Verma said “This is the realisation of a life-long dream to create a world class building right in the heart of the community we serve.
“We are passionate to continue and expand our work, now with the benefit of such a wonderful building. We are thankful to all our supporters and funders for making this dream a reality.”
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Arts Council England’s capital support of Tara’s new theatre in South London signals our commitment to investing in the long term development of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic theatre artists and all audiences, as part of our Creative Case for Diversity. This landmark building embodies the Arts Council’s mission to create opportunities for excellence for all. We are delighted our support for Tara’s leadership in diversity has helped create a dedicated home for connecting worlds.”
The Mayor of Wandsworth at the official opening
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “For decades Tara has been a positive voice for the Asian community and a powerful outlet for their creative talents. Their imaginative, challenging programmes explore different cultures and beliefs, and have done a great deal to strengthen and celebrate the common threads which connect us. The new look building is fantastic and will be a valuable new creative hub for Wandsworth and south London.”
Speaking at the launch, Wandsworth Mayor Councillor Richard Field said: “Wandsworth Council has been active in supporting the group from its early days when Tara rehearsed and performed in a community hall. Your enthusiasm, determination and sheer hard work is to be congratulated.”