What makes a play a classic?

The London Hub of Sustained Theatre are staging Exploring the Canon a day of performance readings aimed at putting forward a diverse range of plays that they believe should be included in the nation’s canon. Sustained Theatre want to broaden the repertoire of plays generally regarded as the nation’s classics to include plays that are often neglected for revival in the national theatre landscape.

Emerging theatre directors are being given an opportunity to direct extracts from plays which include Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, Shelley Silas’s Calcutta Kosher, Sudha Bhuchar’s The House of Bilquis Bibi and Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.

The directors will work closely with Artistic Directors from Arcola Theatre, ATC, Collective Artistes, Kali Theatre Company, Talawa Theatre Company, Tamasha, Tara and The Red Room. Before each performance the Artistic Directors will champion their chosen play and give reasons why that play should be included within the canon.

A full day of performance readings (11am-5.30pm) with lunch thrown in allows time for spirited debate to take place between an audience of Artistic Directors, Directors, actors, drama schools, academics, arts journalists and lovers of theatre.


Ramin Gray, Artistic Director
Moon on a Rainbow Shawl by Errol John
Directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway

Tara Arts
Jatinder Verma, Artistic Director
Borderline by Hanif Kureishi
Directed by Mukul Ahmed

Collective Artistes
Chuck Mike, Artistic Director
Death and The King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
Directed by Tunde Euba

Kristine Landon-Smith / Suidha Bhuchar, Artistic Directors
The House of Bilquis Bilbi by Sudha Bhuchar
Directed by Renu Arora

The Red Room
Topher Campbell, Artistic Director
To Rahtid by Sol B River
Directed by Topher Campbell

Janet Steel, Artistic Director
Calcutta Kosher by Shelley Silas
Directed by Trilby James
Talawa Theatre Company
Pat Cumper, Artistic Director
Alterations by Michael Abbensetts
Directed by Josephine Melville

Arcola Theatre
Mehmet Ergen, Artistic Director
Wedding Band: A Love Hate Story in Black and White by Alice Childress
Directed by Katherine Armitage

Download the full programme here.