ASHWIN Singh’s award-winning plays have made an indelible impact on the Durban cultural landscape over the last decade.
Combining humour and pathos, his numerous works delve into myriad issues in contemporary South Africa and have moved mature, multi-cultural audiences as well as the younger generation.
In recent years the playwright has acquired an international reputation as his work has been staged in India and published in the United Kingdom.
Singh’s plays have featured in two collective anthologies and an individual anthology. In 2006, UK publications company Aurora Metro Books published his dark relationship drama To House in New South African Plays.
In 2013, the Catalina UnLtd Theatre Company published his classic Grey Street dramedy Spice ‘n Stuff in The Catalina Collection. That same year, Aurora Metro Books published his individual anthology Durban Dialogues, Indian Voice featuring five of his best plays, namely To House, Duped, Spice ‘n Stuff, Reoca Light and Beyond the Big Bangs.
This book has either been referenced or is being studied at a variety of local and overseas universities, including the Durban University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mahila College, India and St Anthony’s College, Oxford.
As a result of the aforementioned and encouraged by enthusiastic colleagues, this year the Singh Siblings will present the first major international conference on Singh’s plays at the Playhouse, Durban.
Entitled The 3-D Conference: Durban Dialogues Dissected, it will take place on Saturday, June 11 in the Playhouse Loft Theatre and will be attended by artists, academics, drama and English students, cultural activists, politicians, literary critics and of course, the media.
Directed by clinical psychologist and theatre producer Shantal Singh, the programme will feature five papers presented by renowned South African and Indian academics as well as excerpts from Reoca Light and Beyond the Big Bangs performed by Shona Johnson, Chantal Snyman and Ashwin Singh.
The five papers to be presented are:
- Durban Dialogues, Indian Voice: A Critical Overview by Dr Betty Govinden (UKZN; Dept of English)
- Creative Agency as Critique in the Durban Dialogues by Prof Priya Narismulu (UKZN; Dept of English)
- Conflicts of Race and Gender: A Study of Plays by Ashwin Singh and Mahesh Dattani by Prof Pranav Joshipura (Mahila College, Gujarat, India; Dept of English)
- Voicing Identity in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Ashwin Singh’s Durban Perspective by Ms Lee-Anne Naicker (DUT; Drama and Production Studies) and Prof Bett Pacey (TUT; Drama and Film Studies)
- Ashwin Singh Egg or Chicken: A Writer/Director’s Recipe in Interviews and Analysis by Prof Deborah Lutge (DUT; Drama and Production Studies).
Spokeswoman for the Singh Siblings, Shantal Singh said that the conference was being viewed by academics and cultural activists as a significant event on Durban’s artistic calendar “as it presented substantial critical analysis of a body of work which exposed Durban’s beauty, diversity, ugliness and complexity”.
She added that she hoped the event would “stimulate lively debate and inspire people to share our stories”.