In 1977 Jatinder Verma got together with some like-minded friends in south London and founded Tara Arts — the first British Asian theatre company. It was a political act, fuelled by resistance against racism, and it catalysed an Asian theatre movement in this country, with many of Tara’s early associates going on to found their own companies. This movement linked up with other radical theatre makers, including those coming out of the struggle of African-Caribbean youth, such as the Black Theatre Co-operative, which also emerged in the late 1970s. Four decades later Tara Arts is still going strong, with Jatinder Verma at its helm. Continuing Socialist Review’s series on political theatre, Hassan Mahamdallie talked to the company’s founder about the political roots of Tara Arts, what it was trying to achieve and its continued relevance today.
Act 1: Arrival