New Tour and New Play annouced from Oxford’s Mandala Theatre

Mandala Theatre is set to launch its new production, Castaways with a world première on May 1, 2018.

The Oxford-based company, whose founder Yasmin Sidhwa (formerly creative learning director at Pegasus Theatre) will be directing the show, starts a nationwide tour this spring in Bedford, taking in 16 cities and arriving in Oxford from Friday 1 June to Saturday 2 June at The Old Fire Station.

Castaways, currently in rehearsal at Cowley’s Ark-T Centre and Oxford Brookes University, with a cast of three talented young actors, tackles friendships and tribal loyalties when events conspire to blow their teenage world apart. Written by award-winning young writer Atiha Sen Gupta, the play has been developed through creative workshops with young people in Oxford, Luton, Stockton-on-Tees, Woolwich, London.

Yasmin Sidhwa said: “We wanted to talk to young people from diverse backgrounds about their sense of connectedness – or not – with the communities they have grown up in. The play is set in a neighbourhood where the blue touch paper is waiting to be lit. I’m thrilled to be working with exciting young playwright Atiha Sen Gupta and a trio of highly talented young actors.”

Castaways is the second of three plays to be specially commissioned by Mandala as part of a trilogy which brings the stories of marginalised people into the limelight. The company’s debut play, Night Light, explored the fate of young people seeking asylum who arrive in the county as unaccompanied minors.

Mandala Theatre Company has recently received Grants for the Arts funding from Arts Council England, seed and production funding from HOUSE, Oxford City Council and the Ragdoll Foundation to tour its new production, with creative workshops and panel debate. It works with arts organisations, community and education partners, including Asylum Welcome, Refugee Resource and the University of Bedfordshire, and the company tours to cities where migration, radicalisation and alienation are widespread. Said Yasmin: “Our aim is to witness the effect that political decisions have on young people and communities – and see if their involvement with creative projects such as ours can make a difference.”

A post-show question and answer session is an established part of the tour, involving representatives from the community, local councillors and organisations who have knowledge and experience of the issues raised.

Mandala has also been invited to perform Castaways in Heidelberg, Germany, in the autumn.