Sonali BhattacharyyaLocation: United Kingdom
Sonali Bhattacharyya is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter (Sonia Friedman Production Award, Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award) based in London, United Kingdom. Her credits include Two Billion Beats (Orange Tree Theatre), Assembly: The Teachers’ Play and 2066 (Almeida Participation), Silence (Tara Theatre and Donmar Warehouse), Megaball (National Theatre Learning), Slummers (Cardboard Citizens) and The Invisible Boy (Kiln Theatre). She is a graduate of the Royal Court Writers’ Group, Old Vic 12 and Donmar Warehouse’s Future Forms Programme. She is under commission to Fifth Word, the Bristol Old Vic and Chichester Festival Theatre, and is currently developing a drama series for television with Dancing Ledge Productions and an Augmented Reality project with Anagram.
Her play ‘Chasing Hares’ was a mainstage production at London’s Young Vic Theatre in July/August 2022. The play explored the impact of precarious work and late stage capitalism on two generations, through Jatra (Bengali folk theater), comedy, storytelling and song.
‘ “I’m not political. Not at all. Never have been. I’m a company man.”
2000s Kolkata. The Khub Bhalo factory is on lockdown and no one’s getting paid. Prab is caught between joining the picket line and the need to provide for his family. When the boss’ son ropes Prab into reinvigorating his failing folk theater troupe, Prab seizes the opportunity to expose the injustice of factory conditions and child exploitation. Is he ready to risk his future, his family and even his own life to fight for change?’
The Bertha Artivism Awards supported a two-week research and development period for Sonali and Milli Bhatia (the director). They worked with five actors and a creative team (lighting designer, set designer, composer, sound designer, movement director, lyricist and dramaturg) to find the form and aesthetic for the production, drawing on the Hindu mythology, communist politics and elements of Jatra in the script.
The Bertha Artivism Awards also supported a series of wraparound events for the full production, to actively connect with a South Asian audience, celebrate South Asian culture and foster collective discussion about the political themes of the play.
The events were:
- Disrupting the Diaspora: Radical Asian Organizing in the UK – a post show discussion with food, featuring writer and activist Amrit Wilson and migrant solidarity and trade union organizer Amardeep Singh Dhillon, chaired by Sonali.
- Daytimers: A Night Celebrating South Asian Artistry – opening and closing night parties DJed by Daytimers’ Collective, a creative collective inspired by the ‘daytimers’ parties self-organized by British Asian youth in the 80s & 90s.