Wednesday, 6 July 2011

In memory of Dad - The Arrivals at Circus Space

It's so exciting to see the vision of Kristine-Landon Smith and myself really take flight in this second year show at Circus Space. The piece is a co-production between Tamasha Theatre Company and Circus Space. For me the Arrivals is a very personal story. So much negative press is given to migrants of many kinds, and yet people do not uproot themselves from their homelands easily... as one man says... 'The history of humanity is the history of migration'. The text of Arrivals is formed from a combination of a poetic text I have written, inspired by Shaun Tan's extraordinary graphic novel, and verbatim texts (recorded and donated by the company Ice and Fire) charting the experience of refugees and ecomic migrants.

My father, Dr. Amal Krishna Brahmachari was a doctor. He came to this country as did many in the late 1950's from the 'Motherland' countries to help found the then new National Health Service. Those doctors he arrived with on the long ship journey from India are now retiring. In creating the narrative for Arrivals  I wanted to explore the debt this country owes to its migrant population. Sadly, my father had an unsuccessful heart operation in 2008 from which he died. I was so moved to see the respect that his Polish Consultant showed him at the end of his life.. saying 'I take my hat off to you, who paved the way.' It reminded me of the man in the hat in Shaun Tan's Arrival.

My father was always compassionate to new 'Arrivals.' I think he never forgot what it was like to leave his homeland behind and to try to reinvent himself in another country, language and culture. The character of Obi in our production of Arrivals sees and hears stories of new Arrivals, their trials and tribulations, and makes them welcome in his house in Finsbury Park. At the end of his life they recognise his kindness and courage.

I am looking forward to taking my whole family along to Circus Space tonight and I will explain to my children how their Granddad was an inspiration in this work performed by actors and circus artists. He often used to say that when he was making the long passage to Britain by ship that he felt that his life would always be suspended between worlds. It has been moving to see how Kristine Landon-Smith has worked with Circus Artists to stage this narrative; capturing the emotional landscape of flight, falling and suspension of the migrant experience so closely.


  1. Sounds amazing!

  2. I am lucky enough to be going to see Arrivals on Saturday night. It was very interesting(and quite moving) to read about the inspiration for the show. Dr Brahmachari was obviously a very insightful and resiliant man. As a fan of Sita's writing and a genuine, almost child like , love of the circus, I am really looking forward to seeing the collaboration!

    The photos are very beautiful-almost timeless.

    Maria L North London