Bread is for everyone
The Bread Theatre and Film Company is tearing up student theatre and bringing the world to Cambridge’s stages.
Bread, says founding committee member and President Shameera Nair Lin, is more than just a theatre company – it’s a movement. Founded last year by a group of students from BAME backgrounds, it aims to open up new artistic spaces, voices and narratives within the University – and beyond. “Many of us are from the former colonies, and we grew up with the idea of theatre as Shakespeare, Wilde and Beckett,” says third-year Lin who is studying English at Lucy Cavendish. “When we came to Cambridge, we started to realise that the theatre we grew up with wasn’t the theatre that spoke to our hearts.”
Bread was founded by postgraduate student Ananya Mishra (Corpus) and Cavendish physicist, Dr Suchitra Sebastian. And, although only in its first year, the company has already supported performances of plays seeking to bring different stories to the fore, such as Chong Tze Chien’s Pan Island Expressway and God’s Property by Arinze Kene, which is set in the wake of the Brixton riots. It’s showcased student writing, too – recent productions include Lin’s own play Corpsing, and committee member Hannah Shury-Smith’s Chalk, which deals with the experience of being mixed race. Last summer, the company brought The Djinns of Eidgah (by leading Bengali playwright Abhishek Majumdar) to the Edinburgh fringe – to audience acclaim and five-star reviews.
“All our productions are very distinctive, explore new genres, and they’re not just about politics,” Lin says. “Yes, our narratives are very much geared towards social causes. But there’s also love, intimacy of different kinds. It’s too easy to say: ‘Oh, term only lasts eight weeks, let’s just produce another Shakespeare’ – our job is to broaden the scope of what’s acceptable in the canon.”
The society is bringing new voices to the forefront in other ways, too. Bread members are part of the ADC pitching panel, which has a direct hand in programming all the shows that are put on in the main student theatres. Bread also organises student workshops (Bread Labs) with theatre professionals. Looking forward, the committee hope to launch a writing competition for new work and an annual performance showcase and to put on yearly productions beyond Cambridge. “Anyone can get involved – it’s not just about people from BAME backgrounds,” Lin laughs. “As our logo shows, bread is for everyone.”
Find out more about the Bread Theatre and Film Company.