The Empress

On the boat from India, Rani, an ayah (nursemaid) befriends a lascar (sailor), an Indian politician and a royal servant destined to serve the Queen. Full of hopes and dreams of what lies ahead, they each embark on an extraordinary journey.

Will their expectations come true or will they have to forge a different path in their new country?

Spanning 13 years over the ‘Golden Era’ of Empire, this story blends the experiences of Indian ayahs and lascars who worked on the ships carrying trade goods, alongside the first Indian politician to be elected as a Member of Parliament. This epic story reveals how socially diverse the Asian presence was in nineteenth century Britain.

Directed by Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director of Tamasha, Tanika Gupta’s The Empress will take you from the rugged gangways of Tilbury docks to the grandeur of Queen Victoria’s Palace, whilst unveiling the long and embedded culture of British Asian history.

The Empress will run at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre from 18 July – 18 November 2023.

The Empress will transfer to London’s Lyric Hammersmith Theatre for four weeks only from 4 to 28 October 2023.

Writer Tanika Gupta
Director Pooja Ghai
Designer Rosa Maggiora
Lighting Matt Haskins
Music and Sound Ben and Max Ringham
Movement Wayne Parsons
Dramaturg Pippa Hill
Fights and Intimacy Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown
Music Director Hinal Pattani
Voice & Dialect Gurkiran Kaur
Assistant Director Layla Madanat
Casting Directors Matthew Dewsbury CDG and Martin Poile
Design Assistant Maariyah Sharjil