Princess Suffragette

a new play by Subika Anwar-Khan

direction and dramaturgy by Charlie Ely

Princess Suffragette is a contemporary (re)telling of one woman’s journey entailing personal transformation, collective bravery and political defiance in the early 20th century.

Raised within the British aristocracy to be the perfect Princess, as the daughter of an exiled Maharajah, Sophia Duleep Singh has a charmed childhood tinged with tragedy. When she finally visits her father’s former Indian Kingdom as a young woman, she begins to unravel hidden family truths. With a new-found awareness of her past and circumstances, she questions her identity and shifts her energy towards much worthier causes, campaigning both against British Imperialism and for women’s Suffrage.

This true story is brought to life by versatile performers embodying a variety of performance styles, bold imagery, and an eclectic soundtrack of modern Asian-fusion music. This inventive new play about identity, risk and heart, twists our notions of feminism and explores defining moments of British and Indian history, through the eyes of an extraordinary woman at the centre of it all.

The play premiered in 2017, to honour roughly 100 years since the Suffragette movement and the 70th anniversary of both India and Pakistan’s independence.

Listen to our conversation with Shazia Awan on BBC Asian Network HERE!


Production History

VAULT Festival, London (22-26 February 2017)

“an intriguing narrative about the risks and challenges of feminism […] beautifully written” – London Theatre 1 – ★★★★

“immersive and engaging [with] four amazing performers” – London Theatre 1

“an epic account of Sophia Duleep Singh” – British Theatre Guide

“Charlie Ely captures the feeling of being of the diaspora, ensuring colonial wooden furniture and Indian inspired drapes set the scene. Scenes changes take on mini narratives themselves, beautifully choreographed sequences move the production along swiftly and smoothly.” – Theatre Full Stop

Princess Suffragette is a play that shows us how far we have come politically, whilst also offering a timely reminder of Pankhurst’s famous words: “never give up the fight”.” – Exeunt

Audience tweets:

@lydiabakelmun: Bravo @GreyGreenTheatr bringing an incredible true story to light in a year of cultural exchange 🇮🇳🇬🇧#PrincessSuffragette

@weare_sass: We LOVED #PrincessSuffragette and it’s versatile portrayal of Asian + female identity under British rule – amazing work! 👏👸

@mdkactor: #BRITISH #INDIAN #HISTORY brought to life through the amazing story of #PrincessSuffragette!! SUPERB WORK!!

@sleekerr: Just saw #PrincessSuffragette at the Vaults. GO! Last day Sunday, a grand experience. ☆☆☆☆


Jessica Andrade is a British-Asian actress, specialising in physical theatre and circus skills. Jessica trained at East 15 Acting school and is represented by Williamson & Holmes. She is creating a physical theatre/circus show on the theme of identity, The Brownie Club, which has had performances at Watford Palace and TILT festival.

Avita Jay’s theatre credits include: Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World (Southwark Playhouse), The Merry Wives of Windsor (National Tour), Warde Street (Park Theatre), Pioneer (National Tour), Rapunzel (Park Theatre), We’re Stuck (Shoreditch Town Hall). TV and Film: Emmerdale (ITV), London, Paris, New York (Fox Star Studios) and Miser’s Dream (The Same Old/Odd Truth).

Navinder Bhatti trained at The Bridge Theatre Training Company. Theatre includes: The Revenger’s Tragedy (Nottingham Playhouse) Ross (Chichester Festival Theatre) EvanesceRomeo and Juliet (Secret Theatre), King Lear (National Theatre), Dead Wait (Soho Theatre). TV and Film: Midsomer Murders (ITV/Bentley Productions), Casualty (BBC), Dance (Cinergy Films), NT Live: King Lear (National Theatre), Amar, Akbar and Tony (Sash Media Productions), Doppelgänger (Galaxy Films).

Megan McKie-Smith is an actor and writer from Newcastle, who graduated from Drama Centre London in 2015. She has worked with Live Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Park Theatre – as part of Sheer Height’s ‘Women Redressed’ in 2016. She also appeared in short film ‘Look Up’.

Creative Team

Playwright – Subika Anwar-Khan

Subika is a playwright and actor, currently an Associate Artist at Curve Theatre, Leicester.  Her first full-length play Stateless, was commissioned by Kali Theatre (Tristan Bates, 2016). She has developed new scripts with companies including The Royal Court, Nottingham Playhouse, The Roundhouse, Royal and Derngate, Tamasha Theatre and The Birmingham Rep, and attended playwriting courses with Hightide and Soho Theatre. She is developing a one-woman show with Camden People’s Theatre and Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre.

‘A remarkably mature play […] a pitch perfect script’ ★★★★ – The Independent on Stateless

Director and Dramaturg – Charlie Ely

Directing credits include: A Sudden Burst of Blinding Light (ZOO Southside and Rosemary Branch), Orion and the Dark (UK Tour), Define, Cyber-Babies (Park Theatre), House Proud (Southwark Playhouse), The King of Cats (Secret Garden Party), A Little While Longer, The Seaside (Hen & Chickens), 82 to North Finchley and Fit For Work (Rosemary Branch). She is Associate Director of Peaceful Lion Productions, which creates high-quality theatre for family audiences, including Nutcracker! The Musical (Pleasance, London, 2015-16). Charlie has an MA in Theatre Studies (RCSSD) and a BA in Drama Studies and English Literature (University of Sussex); training includes selection for workshops with director Katie Mitchell at the Young Vic.

Set and Costume Designer – Emily Bestow

Emily’s work as a set, costume and puppet designer and maker spans drama, musicals, opera and dance. In 2016 she was set and costume designer for Anything Goes and Wallis: A Certain Person (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), The MGM Story (Theatre Royal Windsor, UK Tour), Spent (touring show by Clean Break), Orion and the Dark (UK Tour) and Daredevil Rides to Jarama (UK tour). Emily holds a 1st class BA in Performance Design and Practice from Central St Martins.

Lighting Designer – Sarah McColgan

Sarah is a RADA graduate and was the Laboratory Associate Lighting Designer 2015-16 at Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, and lit Juicy & Delicious. Work includes: Blue Stockings – Mountview Academy MA, Gutted (HOME, Manchester), Takeover: Paradise (Tricycle Theatre), Pagliacci (Everyman Palace, Cork – winner Irish Theatre Award for Best Opera Production), Harajuku Girls (Finborough Theatre), Man to Man (Mercury Theatre Colchester & Park Theatre, London); The Kitchen, The Bedroom, The Grave (Baby Grand Studio, Belfast & Northern Ireland tour); Strange Forces (National Centre for Circus Arts).

Sound Designer – Suren Seneviratne aka My Panda Shall Fly

Suren is a prolific electronic artist, with an accomplished and diverse discography. In 2015, Seneviratne has worked across multidisciplinary media including commissions for the Breakin’ Convention hip-hop dance programme at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, sound design for John Berkavitch’s WRONG at Leicester Curve and Roundhouse, London, and most recently for Horizons – a game on the upcoming Google Daydream Virtual Reality headset.

London Grey & Green Theatre Company would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the following people, who helped us take Princess Suffragette to VAULT Festival 2017:

Shirley Achaibar
Anita Andrade
Penny Armstrong
Simon Bolland
Trevor Brooker
Irene Casey
John Chambers
Marissa Chazan
Kat Clifford
Stephanie Clifford
Norman Coates
Charlotte Cornwell
Helen Crevel
Richard Davis
James Delamere
Georgina Ely
Chris Ely
Joe English
A. Fernandes
Matthieu Hauret
Susan Lee Kerr
Alex Kerr
Michael Kerr
Shahid Iqbal Khan
Oman Khan
Tom Ostwald Nice
Alice Nicholas
Alfred & Lidia Nunes
Rebecca & Steven Stretton
Elizabeth Williams