“Binglish” = a constant dialogue with English
West and East have been attracted to each other since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. Alexander the Great got as far as India, leaving behind the magnificent Gandhara school of sculpture. In the modern era, Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy provided a template for self-determination by many colonised and oppressed peoples around the globe. The socalled “Arabic numerals” that shape so much of modern life originate in the plains of northern India, where renunciating monks invented the concept and symbol of the ‘zero’... Binglish is a state of mind capturing the manner in which humans are intimately connected with each other across the globe.
Jatinder grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and arrived in the UK as part of the “Exodus” of Kenyan Asians in February 1968, aged 14. He founded theatre company Tara Arts in 1977 as a response to the racist murder of young Gurdip Singh Chaggar in west London. During his four decades as Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Jatinder developed a unique approach to theatre – adapting Asian dramaturgical principles to European drama. An approach which he has termed “Binglish”.
This approach characterised a range of productions: from Gogol’s The Government Inspector in 1988 and Buchner’s Danton Death in 1989, to Moliere’s Tartuffe, which was staged at the National Theatre in 1990, where Jatinder was the first-ever non-white director. He took a similar approach to the staging of Indian plays – the modern classic Hayavadana in 1985 and the first-ever staging at the National of the Sanskrit classic The Little Clay Cart in 1992 and Dance Like A Man in 1997.
To mark the new century, Jatinder conceived and directed an encounter between Indian and Greek epics in the staging of 2001- A Ramayan Odyssey. Shakespeare productions include Troilus and Cressida, Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Macbeth and, in 2019, a Japanese version of Othello (“Ainu Othello”), was staged with a Japanese cast at Tara. Other productions include Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and The Miser, Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, Beaumarchais’ Figaro and Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance. Along with designer Claudia Mayer, Jatinder led the re-building of Tara’s home in south London to create Britain’s first multicultural theatre, fusing Edwardian brick and Indian wood. The new Tara Theatre was formally opened in September 2016 by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Jatinder was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the arts in January 2017.
Claudia Mayer was born in Australia but spent her early childhood in India where she attended Daly College, Indore, before coming to England to complete her education. After a BA in French from Sussex University, she trained as a Designer at the Motley Theatre Design Course, under the legendary Margaret Harris.
Having worked as a designer in Theatre, Ballet and Opera for a range of companies, Claudia started her collaboration with Jatinder over 20 years ago, working with him on a variety of productions as well as on re-designing the new Tara Theatre. An accomplished exhibitions designer, Claudia has designed for the British Library and the School of Asian and African Studies. She also co-wrote with Jatinder Verma a radio adaptation of The Mahabharata.