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World Theatre festival celebrates freedom and independence

Mobile Incitement

The opening show will celebrate east London within the context of protest in England. It’s a bold and entertaining invitation to audiences to reclaim our history of progressive thought and radicalism.

The annual festival of British Bengali theatre and arts hosted by Tower Hamlets Council, is set to return to the stages and venues across the borough this November with a programme of plays, talks, exhibitions, a new outlook, and a new name. 

As the borough marks the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh, Season of Bangla Drama has been renamed the Freedom and Independence Theatre Festival. 

Featuring 12 theatrical performances, the world theatre festival will facilitate a dynamic cultural exchange between different generations, and marginalised groups across the UK including Bangladeshi, Vietnamese, Rohingya, Somali and London’s East End communities, celebrating in diverse modes and media the themes of freedom and independence. 

Themes of freedom and independence have inspired the plays and events that make up this year’s programme. The variety of plays on offer cover topics such as the plight of women, the tales of freedom fighters, the journeys of refugees such as the Rohingya and Vietnamese, as well as the power of protest.   

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I am delighted that we are continuing to use theatre and performance as a way to both spotlight key events of 1971, but also to celebrate the diversity of Tower Hamlets from past to present, which is one of our borough’s greatest strengths.” 

The council’s Thriving High Streets and Welcome Back initiatives are supporting the festival as part of a series of events to bring more visitors to key high streets and markets in the borough. The festival includes a fringe programme of events including a Bengali heritage walk, film screenings, an international youth writing project, talks and exhibitions. There will also be opportunities for audiences to participate through question-and-answer sessions, and to engage in the richness of poetry, music and dance.  

Councillor Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Culture Arts and Sport, said: “This year’s festival is a fantastic way to tell untold stories, reach out to new audiences, spotlight on issues relevant to the diverse communities in Tower Hamlets, and to learn about the history, legacy and impact of what unfolded half a century ago.  

I encourage people of all backgrounds to join in this significant celebration of world arts, culture and history and help boost the borough’s cultural offer.”  

Visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/bangladesh50 for the full programme listings.  


Notes to editors:  

The Freedom and Independence Festival will open on Friday 5 November 2021 at Brady Arts centre, 192-196 Hanbury Street, Whitechapel E1 5HU with:  

Gerrard Winstanley’s True and Righteous Mobile Incitement by Daedalus Theatre Company  

Dissent and rebellion are as English as rainy bank holidays, cream teas and plundering foreign countries. But the great radical moments of our history are often forgotten or ignored.  Many people today struggle to find a voice and feel alienated from politics. Even our past is under threat: the UK Government’s official history for citizenship tests omits the Peasants Revolt, the Diggers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs... 

The Black Smock Band has joined with Daedalus Theatre Company to tour the country with their homemade Mobile Incitement Unit. They aim to reclaim history and idealism for the dissenters and rebels. They share big, positive ideas and form a collective voice. The result is an uplifting gig-theatre show from an LGBTQ+ led company. It tells the story of English protest and dissent through songs which span six centuries. This show reflects the history of each place it visits. It invites local guest performers to join and will celebrate east London within the context of protest in England.  It’s a bold and entertaining invitation to audiences to reclaim our history of progressive thought and radicalism. 

Posted on Wednesday 27th October 2021