"I couldn't be more thrilled or excited"
Comedy-drama play East is East will be returning to the Birmingham stage for its 25th anniversary.
The play turned film will be showcasing at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre (REP) from September 3-25, 2021.
East is East tells the story of strict patriarch George Khan and how he wants to raise his dysfunctional family the traditional Pakistani way.
However, the distractions of 1970’s Salford sees unwanted marriages, family drama and sibling fights.
East is East was written by Ayub Khan Din and premiered in 1996 at the REP.
Ayub said: “On the 8th of October 1996, at 7:45, I sat in the studio of The REP, quietly crapping myself!
“It was the first performance of East is East.
“I’d managed to get time off work to travel up for the first previews and press night, little did I know that my life was going to change so completely after this evening.
“I wondered if an autobiographical play about my life growing up in a bi-racial family would appeal to anyone outside of my immediate circle.
“The night was sparkling… The response from the audience was tremendous.
“The first review I read was from the Birmingham press, and I’ve never forgotten it, I didn’t realise it at the time how prescient it would prove to be; it read, ‘Hamlet is not a play about Danes, and the same can be said of East is East‘.
“25 years on, and the play has been performed all over the world, in many languages to many different cultures.
“Now here we are, on the 25th anniversary, back where it all started and I couldn’t be more thrilled or excited, it’s like coming home.”
It was a massive hit and since then, it has sold out three London runs and was adapted into a film in 1999.
The film starred Om Puri as George Khan as well as Jimi Mistry and Archie Panjabi, both of who went on to have successful acting careers.
The film was a hit, winning the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards.
The new production will see renowned theatre director Iqbal Khan bring his own creative vision of the much-loved play.
He told Birmingham Mail:
“It’s a great play and I’ve got an exceptional cast, we are doing a funky thing with the design and music which will make it feel very 21st century.
“I think the biggest job is to do the play as well as I can.
“It’s an exceptional play. It’s not just a classic British Asian story but just a classic great play.
“It’s great to bring to audiences, after an awful year-and-a-half, a vibrant surprising roller-coaster of a show.”
Iqbal also has another big project in the pipeline as he is one of six Birmingham-based creatives working on the opening and closing ceremonies for the Commonwealth Games 2022.
Joining him includes renowned screenwriter and creator of Peaky Blinders Steven Knight CBE, musician Joshua ‘RTKal’ Holness and short story writer and novelist Maeve Clarke.
The play runs from September 3-25 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in Centenary Square.
Cast members of the current production include Tony Jayawardena as George, Sophie Stanton as Ella, Gurjeet Singh as Tariq and Amy-Leigh Hickman as Meenah.
The running time is two hours, including a 20-minute interval.
Tickets start from £12.50 and can be purchased on the REP website.