Indhu Rubasingham: ‘Plays about different cultures are not risky – they’re vital’

Indhu Rubasingham. Photo: Mark Douet Indhu Rubasingham. Photo: Mark Douet
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Tricycle Theatre artistic director Indhu Rubasingham has urged theatres need to stop perceiving plays about different cultures as “risky”.

Rubasingham argued that audiences “love a good story” regardless of where it comes from, and that some of the most successful shows at her London venue have been “the most surprising stories”.

She was speaking at a platform event at the National Theatre with playwright Francis Turnly, about the Tricycle and National Theatre co-production of The Great Wave, a thriller set in Japan and North Korea.

“This has nearly sold out of its run, and actually one lesson I’ve learned is that people like a good story: they don’t care where it came from.

“We talk about this being a risk because we think people only want to see themselves on stage, or we’ve got to tell people what they know, but actually as an artistic director, what I’ve discovered is that my most successful shows at the Tricycle have been the most surprising stories,” she said.

She added: “I don’t think it’s a risk, and I think the more we realise that it isn’t a risk, the more variety in stories we’ll hear on stage.”

Rubasingham said she was struck by the number of people who had come to see The Great Wave and had told her they were seeing themselves represented in theatre for the first time.

“You forget how important it is to see yourself on stage, and when you feel that you have been marginalised and ostracised and your presence isn’t felt, it becomes even more important,” she added.