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Making a play for diversity

DRAMATIC ACT: Charithra Chandran (in red top) as Medea
DRAMATIC ACT: Charithra Chandran (in red top) as Medea

By AMIT ROY SPURNED BY PEERS, OXFORD’S BAME STUDENTS STAGE DRAMA TO ACCLAIM ASIAN undergraduates at Oxford have joined forces with their fel­low black students to mount a dramatic act of rebellion that they claim has “never happened before” at the university. The students have successfully put on a play in which every mem­ber of the cast and production team was from a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) background. They say that for far too long, black and Asian students were not even being auditioned because drama was thought to be the exclusive preserve of “white students like Hugh Grant” (currently portray­ing Jeremy Thorpe in the BBC TV drama, A Very English Scandal). with Joel Stanley as Jason After challenging the assump­tions of entitlement by white stu­dents from privileged back­grounds, the play they staged to standing ovations last month at the O’Reilly Theatre at Keble Col­lege was Medea, a Greek tragedy written by Euripides and first per­formed in 431 BC. Medea, a wife who is consid­ered a barbarian and an outsider, is outraged, betrayed and humili­ated when her husband dumps her for a new lover, Princess Glauce, the daughter of King Cre­on. She kills her rival by gifting her a poisoned cloak and crown, which also causes the death of Creon as he embraces his dying daughter. And in order to inflict the maximum pain on her un­faithful husband Jason, Medea murders their two young sons and even takes away their bodies so as to deny him the solace of giving them a burial. Two of the outstanding perfor­mances were by Charithra Chan­dran, a PPE student at New Col­lege (ironically, Grant’s old college), as Medea, and Shreya Lakhani, an undergraduate at Balliol reading Sanskrit and Hindi, as the Mes­senger. All the mayhem occurs off stage, and it is left…

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