Queen of Hearts Digital Programme

Friday 25th and Saturday 26th March 2022
3pm and 7pm
at Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham

In this light-hearted duologue, a fading Bollywood star struggles to reconcile how she sees herself, versus how the world perceives her in age. Sparks fly as her younger self arrives to question her memories, and to suggest that maybe it’s time to slow down and embrace ageing.

A Sampad commission as part of Celebrating Age, a dedicated season of work aiming to showcase older artists and performers whilst also giving MAC’s visitors who are 65+ opportunities to try new things and engage with new art forms along the way.

Written by Rukhsana Ahmad
Directed by Harmage Singh Kalirai
Original concept by Piali Ray
Starring Alex Kapila and Ravneet Sehra
Choreography by Piali Ray
Dance by Aruna Kailey
Sound by Olli Smith
(special thanks to Prabhjot Singh Gill , tabla)
Assistant Director, Ajay Dattani
Set design and costume by Bela Gardner

Rukhsana Ahmad
Rukhsana Ahmad is a writer, playwright and translator. She has worked successfully across genres and cultures, avoiding easy categorisation as a writer. This website lists her main credits in each of the diverse areas of her work.

Her first full-length play, Song for a Sanctuary, opened at the Lyric Hammersmith in London and toured the regions. Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn International Prize, it was followed by a BBC Radio 4 version. Since then she has written and adapted a number of plays for the stage, for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service Drama and three screenplays.

​Alarmist Theatre commissioned and toured an adaptation of her widely anthologised story, “The Gatekeeper’s Wife”.

Her play, River on Fire opened at the Lyric Hammersmith to brilliant reviews and is a runner-up for the Susan Smith-Blackburn International Prize for 2002.

In 2007 the Vayu Naidu Company presented Mistaken: Annie Besant in India at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, at regional UK venues and the Cochrane Theatre, London. From December 2007 to January 2008 the show toured India, playing to audiences in Delhi, Allahabad and Chennai.

Click here for a full list of plays*  Click here for a full list of awards*

Homing birds

Everybody has a different definition of home. For some people it is the place where they grew up. For others, it’s the place they live now.  For many, home is any place in the company of their loved ones.
For Saeed, the young Afghan refugee in Homing Birds, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

We Sinful Women: Contemporary Feminist Urdu Poetry, Rukhsana’s pioneering translation introduced some of Pakistan’s finest Urdu poets to global audiences.

Published by Virago, her first novel, The Hope Chest, was critically acclaimed.

In 2014 ILQA, Lahore published Rukhsana’s collection: The Gatekeeper’s Wife and other stories.

Click here for a full list of writing/publishing credits and review clips*

Harmage Singh Kalirai
Training : Rose Bruford (London), Ladislav Fialka (Prague), Jacques Lecoq (Paris).

Theatre : SAMPAD/Teamwork Productions (Kolkata, India), ‘In The Further Soil’, a collaboration of International artistes; For mac/SAMPAD (outdoors Arena Theatre) ‘Heer Ranjha’ & ‘Layla Majnun’, A midlands tour of ‘In the Kitchen’, formed Yehleleh Youth Theatre, conducting training workshops, directed ‘Patel Singh & Ali’ & ‘At the Stroke of Midnight…’; For zeroPlus Theatre, ‘1914: All Our Heroes’ Indian soldiers in WW1, ‘Arrange That Marriage!’ a wacky, offbeat dark comedy, ‘The Maharajah & The Kohinoor’ story of Maharajah Duleep Singh; For Watermans Arts Centre ‘Ungrateful Dead’ & ‘Papa was a Bus Conductor’, design/directed ‘Kali Salwar’, adapted/directed ‘Sohni Mahiwal’ outdoors by the River Thames; For Royal National Theatre coproduced/assisted ‘Wicked, Yaar!’; For M6 Theatre Company directed ‘Ripples’, ‘Two Days as a Tiger’ & ‘Grandpa’s Jinn’; For Abraham Moss Theatre ‘Children of Abraham’; & with many touring companies ; producing & running ACT & Black Mime; conducting theatre workshops to groups in England, Germany, Norway & India.

Film : The House of Sasha (Short Film MANDORA PRODUCTIONS); Parallel Lines (Short Film LIGHT HOUSE PRODUCTION); Chicken Tikka Masala (Feature Film SEVEN SPICE PRODUCTIONS); ENDSWELL PRODUCTIONS produced Music & Corporate Drama Videos : Co-produced short film A Ship Aground directed by Kumar Shahani.

Alex Kapila
Alex is an actor, presenter, voice over artist and performer. She most recently worked with us to play the role of The Psychiatrist in No Bond So Strong, our life-affirming show about the challenges of motherhood, commissioned by BEDLAM Arts & Mental Health Festival.

Other theatre credits include Blue Prints (Birmingham Repertory Theatre); Humans At Work (Warwick Arts Centre); What Fatima Did (Derby Theatre); Food Bank As It Is (Tour); The Community Centre (Tour); Dirty Poetry (The Phoenix); Jane Eyre (The Attic Theatre); Dickens’ Ghost Stories (Blue Orange Theatre); Fémage a Trois (Tour); Rarer Than Rubies (Theatre 503); Cabaret Of Blood (Wales Millennium Centre), and Private LivesThe Deep Blue Sea, and Cyrano de Bergerac (The Bear Pit Theatre).

Ravneet Sehra
Ravneet is a British South Asian Actor. 

Her talents were noticed at a young age, leading her to early acceptance at Stratford Upon Avon College to study Acting at the age of 14. She further trained at Birmingham Ormiston Academy which was co-founded by Maverick Television and The Brit School. 

Her recent work includes Bal in Bafta Nominated Short ‘I Choose’ (BBC), Simran in Radio Drama ‘Queens’ (Tamasha & Holy Mountain Studios) and lately filming ‘Welcome to Birmingham’ (The RSC & Everyone To Everybody). 

She has acted in key classics by Shakespeare, such as Queen of the Fairys Titania, in a multilingual site specific adaption called ‘Merely Players’. Her roles in contemporary theatre include playing Baby in Meera Sayal’s world premiere of ‘Anita and Me’ (Birmingham Rep), Girl on a UK tour of award winning play ‘The Vultures Song’ (Blah Theatre), and Malaika Jamil in ‘The Walls Between Us’ (Sampad) to name a few. 

Ravneet is passionate about using the medium of acting to create change as well as raise awareness of challenging and taboo topics. 

Alongside her acting, Ravneet is also a vocalist. She’s under the musical guidance of one the UK’s most profound Indian classical musicians Ustad Kirpal Singh Panesar, learning Gurmat Sangeet. 

Aruna Kailey
Aruna Kailey is a dance artist and choreographer. She specialises in Indian Fusion dance. Her repertoire includes Bollywood, Egyptian Belly Dance, Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, Classical Indian Dance, Rajasthani Folk, Bhangra and  Bolly Street Fusion. She is passionate about performing and creates routines with a rich blend of styles.

Aruna has previously worked with many organisations and has performed at a number of concerts, festivals and prestigious events. Some previous performances include: Bollywood concert 2019 (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), Juniper Project 2017 (The Crescent Theatre Birmingham), Dub Qalandar 2015 (Birmingham Symphony Hall),  Mummy Ji Presents 2014 (Rep Theatre Birmingham), The Dance Show at The Clothes Show 2010  (Birmingham NEC), Speight of the Art Foundation Event  2015 (Birmingham Town Hall).

Olli Smith
Olli Smith is a location sound recordist and sound designer based in Birmingham. He primarily works with content for screen, having recently completed projects with local production company River Rea Films. His background is in music and contemporary composition, and he holds a Master’s degree in Electroacoustic Composition and Sonic Art from the University of Birmingham.

Ajay Dattani
Ajay Dattani is an Actor, writer/director and former youth worker and has spent many years dedicating his time to reducing knife crime, gun crime, anti-social behavior and delivering public health initiatives ranging from sexual health to raising awareness about Sickle cell and Thalassaemia.

One of the original members of Sampad’s 1993 youth theatre company ‘Yehleleh’ Ajay is an accomplished actor who has thirty years of stage under his belt, ranging from Rep touring to Theatre in Education and directing for youth theatre companies around the UK.

Music Credits

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re (from the film ‘Kohinoor’)
Naushad Ali, Shakeel Badayuni
Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon
Malika Pukhraj, Hafeez Jallandhari
Duniya Bananewale
(from the film ‘Teesri Kasam’)
Shankar–Jaikishan, Hasrat Jaipuri
Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam
(from the film ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’)
S.D. Burman, Kaifi Azmi
Those Were the Days
Boris Fomin, Gene Raskin
Hothon Se Chhu Lo Tum
(from the film ‘Prem Geet’)
Jagjit Singh, Indeevar
Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai
(from the film ‘Guide’)
S.D. Burman, Shailendra
Main Zindagi Ka Saath
(from the film ‘Hum Dono’)
Jaidev Verma, Sahir Ludhianvi