Dear Suraiya…Love Rehana told the story of a young Bangladeshi girl and her English friend in London, and her relation, Rehana, who lives in Sylhet. The link between them was tea!
Tea – our national drink, something we in the UK take wholly for granted.
Tea – an important factor in the Bangladeshi economy and in the lives of thousands of working men and women and their families in the ‘Tea Gardens of Sylhet’.
In the play the story moved back and forth from the Tea Gardens to London as it told of the lives and experiences of tea workers and the two friends in London as they came to understand that behind the simple cup of tea is great hardship. Whilst telling a very dramatic and human story, the play also challenged some of the misinformation, misconceptions and prejudices that existed at the time about Bangladesh and Bangladeshis.
Originally performed in 1988 this play was revived in 1992.
The play was the first in a series of bilingual Theatre-in-Education plays presented by the company in English and Sylheti-Bengali.
You can access the script of this play via the British Library’s MPS Modern Playscripts Collection.
Theatre historian Susan Croft talks about the cultural and political significance of the bi-lingual production, Dear Suraiya… Love Rehana, created by Half Moon Young People’s Theatre in the late 1980s. Interviewed by Alexia-Pyrrha Ashford.
Jenny Sealey was an actor and member of the Half Moon Theatre’s young people’s company in the 1980s. She talks about the bilingual production Dear Suraiya… Love Rehana and the importance of bi-lingual work at that time. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Actor, Luna Rahman performed in Half Moon Theatre’s 1988 bi-lingual English/Bengali production for young audiences, Dear Suraiya… Love Rehana. She talks about the impact that production had on audiences at the time and the difference between schools in Tower Hamlets then and now. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Actor/teacher, Sandra Vacciana was in Half Moon Theatre’s young people’s company in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She talks about the creation of the company’s first bi-lingual production, Dear Suraiya… Love Rehana and the impact it had upon audiences and the company alike. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Deborah Bestwick was Director of the Half Moon Theatre young people’s company in the late 1980s and became Director of Half Moon Young People’s Theatre in 1990. She talks about the development process of Dear Suraiya… Love Rehana and the impetus for the story. Interviewed by Aimee Thompson.