The Empire Writes from Within: The Kali Theatre Company, a Case Study

  • Alice Shantala Colombo


This chapter is an overview of the South Asian diaspora in the UK and its cultural expression in theatre, with particular attention to women’s artistic productions. After a short introduction on South Asian diaspora and reflections on term choices, the chapter focuses on the UK, analysing the evolution of South Asian presence in theatre from its origins in the nineteenth century, through World War II, theatre in original language, and urban theatre of the 1970s and 1980s to the 1990s and also with attention to the history of the Arts Council Founding System and its policy. Then, the chapter examines South Asian women experiencing diaspora through the production of the Kali Theatre Company from 1990 to 2003. The Kali Theatre Company is a group founded in 1990 in London by the writer Rukhsana Ahmad and the actress Rita Wolf, whose aim is to support South Asian women’s presence in British theatre, both as actresses and as playwrights. The chapter moves from a historical point of view to sociological aspects of diaspora, through the words of the interviewed women, trying to make emerge experiences that have been obliterated by history and analysis for many years, and still now are often forgotten and left at the margin. South Asian women in the UK suffer a double alterity, being women and South Asian, which increases and emerge mostly in the artistic field. In the meanwhile, they are challenging the male dualistic system of ‘centre/periphery’ because women collocate themselves in the hic et nunc (‘here and now’), meaning that in the diaspora context, they are writing and acting in the ‘centre’, in the reality, they live every day.


Asian Woman Joint Stock Company South Asian Woman Woman Writer Artistic Director 
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Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yllary - Intercultural Association for womenNovaraItaly

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