Following their VAULT Festival Pick of Pleasance Award winning hit Ladykiller in 2019, The Thelmas return to VAULT Festival with Santi & Naz, the tale of two young women – one Sikh, one Muslim – standing fast against circumstances that would separate them. In 1945, two years before the partition of India, Santi and Naz are best friends who only think about stealing books, swimming in the lake and spying on the local hottie. But as social unrest spreads and families and communities are torn apart, neither understands how their religions are set to divide them, having lived side-by-side all their lives. Then when Naz is betrothed to a tailor in Rawalpindi and her feelings for Santi become complex and confusing, the girls reach cross-roads with terrible consequence.
Santi & Naz contributes to a conversation about postcolonial legacy whilst telling a fresh new story of female friendship, love, loyalty and identity, drawing from the recent legalisation of homosexuality in India in 2018. The show is set just before the partition of India, which split the country into Hindu and Sikh-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, displacing over ten million people and leaving over one million dead. It has been described as the greatest humanitarian crisis of modern times, and the effects of the division can still be felt today.
Writer Guleraana Mir said, “The partition of India was a major historical event yet it’s rarely shown on stage, which is why we wanted to create a show set at this time. However, we felt really passionate that the characters should be relatable, and that Santi and Naz should feel like two ordinary girls you’d see today waiting at a bus stop. They have the same wants and needs, the same hopes and desires as young women in 2020, except of course they lived at a time of great political turmoil.”
The Thelmas presented Ladykiller at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018 and VAULT Festival in 2019; this year, they return with Santi & Naz and NOTCH (19 – 23 Feb), a new show from Croatian writer and performer Danaja Wass. Santi & Naz is a collaboration between director Madelaine Moore (Ladykiller, Algorithms) and writers Guleraana Mir (Coconut, Mano’s) and Afshan D’souza-Lodhi (Hijabi (r)evolutions/It’s not about the Burqa). The show has music by Sarah Sayeed and has been made in consultation with Eleanor Newbigin, Senior Lecturer in the history of modern South Asia at SOAS, University of London. Ladykiller will be touring the UK in Spring 2020 from 3rd March – 2nd May, supported by house and Laura Elmes Productions.
Santi & Naz is at Vault Festival 28th January to 2nd February 2020.