On Tanika Gupta
Monday 8th June 2009
I’ve just come back from Vienna, where I attended a theatre conference organized by Contemporary Drama in English, a great bunch of German academics whose knowledge of British playwriting would put most English academics to shame. The theme of the conference was “Staging Interculturality”, and my contribution was a Q&A with playwright Tanika Gupta. As usual, talking about her work raised some interesting questions. For me, it was a reminder that while academic categories are slow to change, reality is much more nimble. So while articles and books still appear on the subject of Asian theatre, the reality of such a category has been obliterated by events. Over the past decade, more and more writers from an Asian background have been writing about non-Asian subjects. In fact, Gupta has very much led this process, and her recent plays now have few Asian characters: her Sugar Mummies (Royal Court, 2006) had none. If this is the way things are changing, what’s the point of a category such as Asian theatre? Reality has already melted the abstraction, in a very intercultural way.