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Full Casting Announced For Shamser Sinha's THREE SAT UNDER THE BANYAN TREE

Polka Theatre today announce full casting for Shamser Sinha's Three Sat Under The Banyan Tree based on The Panchatantra - India's Aesop's Fables. Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Jatinder Verma directs Rose-Marie Christian (Jayaben - Crow story), Medhavi Patel (Yasmin - Leopard story) and Raj Swamy (Mahendra - Mongoose story). The production opens on 3 October, with previews from 28 September, and runs until 21 October.

Near the foothills of the Himalayas, three orphans open a magical book under a Banyan tree. They were told the book wouldn't give them answers but they'd learn from it, they stir a pot of milk and three stories of the forest rise from its pages. Stories of headstrong crows, a mongoose who wants a family, and a brave Leopard come vibrantly to life, with masks, movement and music.

Polka is co-producing with Tara Arts the first-ever stage adaptation of The Panchatantra in the UK.

Medhavi Patel plays Yasmin (Leopard story). Her theatre credits include Women of the Mahabharata, Food for Thought (Tara Arts), We Are The Lions Mr Manager, Tales of Birbal (UK tour), Trident Moon (Finborough Theatre) and Fragile Land (Hampstead Theatre); and for film, Kidulthood.

Raj Swamy plays Mahendra (Mongoose story) in his professional stage debut.

Rose-Marie Christian plays Jayaben (Crow story). Her theatre credits include Does My Bomb Look Big In This (Bush Theatre), Little Revolution (Almeida Theatre), Home Theatre, Speak (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Tales from the Arabian Nights (London tour), Boy, The Bees and the Blizzard, Nana's Jumble (Kazzum), and Bussin It and Suffocation (Oval House); and for film, Still Life.

Shamser Sinha is a playwright and academic. His writing credits include Khadija Is 18 (Finborough Theatre / winner of Pearson Playwright Award) and The Dissidents (formerly Tricycle Theatre, now Kiln Theatre). Short plays include, Like a Prayer (Rose Bruford/Bush Theatre) and Bredders (Rich Mix). He's currently writing; 'Ujamaa' a play with music, funded through an Arts Council award and supported by Eclipse Theatre and National Theatre Studio; One Day We Bought a White Skoda Octavia with Eastern Angles also supported by the Arts Council ; and Abebe's Rocket with Farnham Maltings/House. Additionally, he's working with Pentabus Theatre on a new play. His book written with Les Back - Migrant City was published in July this year.

Jatinder Verma directs. Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Verma has developed a unique cross-cultural theatre style - Binglish - where Asian theatre sensibilities meet European drama. Having led the company since its inception in 1977, Verma has overseen the development of Tara's new Theatre in Earlsfield, South London, as an award-winning architectural fusion of East and West. Verma was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the arts in 2017. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of York, Essex and De Montfort, Leicester as well as a Research Fellowship from Rose Bruford College and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Tara Arts was founded in Wandsworth, as part of the Asian Civil Liberties movement that emerged following the racist murder of young Gurdip Singh Chaggar in Southall in 1976. The theatre company's first production, Tagore's anti-war play Sacrifice, was staged at Battersea Arts Centre in 1977, with the clear mission of connecting worlds of imagination through stories old and new.

Since then, Tara has been one of the nation's driving forces in multicultural theatre under founder and Artistic Director Jatinder Verma's inspiring leadership. Over 40 years Tara has developed an outstanding track record for bringing together different artists, audiences and participants. These include collaborating with a variety of theatres, including the National Theatre on the first-ever staging of an Indian classical play, Little Clay Cart; as well as building a network of relationships with local schools and colleges in the UK and beyond. Since 2015 Tara Arts has also led the pioneering Black Theatre Live touring consortium of 8 theatres, committed to transforming the landscape for Black, Asian Minority Ethnic artists through a sustainable programme of national touring and audience development. The company's award-winning new Tara Theatre, in south-west London was opened in 2016 by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

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