This collection of plays written and introduced by actor-turned-writer Ayub Khan Din charts the development of a writer able to turn the tumultuous experience of life in modern Britain into satisfying, humane and often richly comic drama.
Whether drawing on his own childhood, growing up in an Anglo-Pakistani family in Salford, or on E.R. Braithwaite’s account of racial tensions in the East End in To Sir, With Love, he depicts the struggles of individuals to come to terms with their conflicting cultural legacies – and he does so with unerring warmth and compassion.
East is East (1996) is an irresistible comedy set in multiracial Salford in 1970, where the Khan children are buffeted this way and that by their Pakistani father’s insistence on tradition, their English mother’s laissez-faire and their own wish to be citizens of the modern world. The film adaptation that followed, with a screenplay by the author, became one of the most successful British films ever made. The version included here is the revised text first performed at the Trafalgar Studios in 2014.
The short, elegiac play, Notes on Falling Leaves (2004), is an emotionally tender depiction of a young man as he loses his mother to dementia, ‘overwhelming in its emotional impact’ (Telegraph).
In All the Way Home (2011), a quarrelsome group of siblings gathers at the family home under the shadow of impending loss. Amidst the cut and thrust of spiky Salford banter, long-harboured resentments rise to the surface and family bonds unravel and unwind.
To Sir, With Love (2013), based on E.R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel, is the uplifting story of a talented, idealistic young teacher discovering the reality of life as a black man in Britain after the Second World War as he struggles to find a way to connect with his students at a tough but progressive East End school.