national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Award-winning playwright, Ashwin Singh, acclaimed for his thought-provoking dramas and satires, now has the distinction of having an international anthology of his plays published by UK publishers, Aurora Metro Books. The anthology is titled Durban Dialogues, Indian Voice, and it features five of Singh’s best plays, namely To House, Duped, Spice ‘n Stuff, Reoca Light, and Beyond the Big Bangs.

The book was officially launched in Durban by the Indian Cultural Centre, Consulate General of India, Durban.

Singh has written eight plays and two sketch comedy shows over the past decade and his works have played to critical acclaim in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and at the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Festival in India. He has enjoyed the distinction of being selected on several occasions for the Playhouse Company’s showpiece arts festival, the New Stages Festival, and is also a three time national award winner at the PANSA/NLDTF Festival of Reading of New Writing (the country’s foremost playwriting contest).

Singh’s plays To House and Spice ‘n Stuff have previously been published, with To House featuring in Aurora Metro’s 2006 anthology, New South African Plays, and Spice ‘n Stuff featuring in Catalina UnLtd’s 2013 anthology The Catalina Collection. He is also a published poet and academic author and a mentor for the Playhouse Company’s Community Arts Festival.

Singh’s collection of works examines the complexities and contradictions of South Africa’s evolving democracy with pathos and humour. The plays are all set in Durban, South Africa’s most diverse city, and whilst they pay tribute to the city’s cultural and aesthetic beauty, they also expose its underbelly of crime, corruption and racial tension, without ever descending into cynicism. As Singh puts it, “I love my city, despite its numerous flaws. It has a rhythm and a magic which is unique and I want to play a meaningful role in its evolution as one of the cultural capitals of Africa”.

Dr Lesley Jacob believes that Singh’s works are both cultural documents and engaging pieces of entertainment. The Indian Cultural Centre has been an official supporter of Singh’s productions, Marital Blitz and PopCom. Dr Jacob shares the view held by renowned academics, Betty Govinden and Thayalan Reddy, that Singh’s works capture the complexities, the rhythms and the cultural melting pot of contemporary South African life and would therefore be invaluable additions to the education syllabi in South African schools and universities. To House has already been occasionally referenced in the drama departments of KwaZulu-Natal universities.

Singh believes that South Africans should proudly celebrate authentic local stories and engage in a more substantial process to expose these stories to future generations: “There is still an over-proliferation of American and European stories on our public stages and on the pages of our prescribed texts. We’re an independent state but the legacy of Apartheid and Colonialism still has a significant effect on our collective psyche. Many South Africans are still tentative about sharing in cross-cultural experiences and we are particularly poor at exporting our diverse cultures to the wider world”.

In regard to breaking this mindset and creating diverse cultural programmes, Singh is a deep admirer of the Indian Cultural Centre’s Dr. Jacob as well as Durban’s two great artistic directors, Linda Bukhosini (Playhouse Company) and Themi Venturas (Catalina UnLtd). “They’ve made a significant contribution to my artistic evolution. I don’t think that my plays would have had the same impact on the stage and on the page without their support and practical assistance, “Singh concluded.