The original production of TEA in the 2018 Auckland Arts Festival was a turning point for South Asian theatre in New Zealand. From playwright and director Ahi Karunaharan the production tells an epic story spanning thousands of years, from the colonial period of the tea estates of Sri Lanka to a distant future of environmentalism.
Two seasons of TEA will perform in the 2021 Kia Mau Festival in Wellington, and at the Q Theatre in Auckland.
From a story of two brothers trying to make sense of Sri Lanka under colonial rule, to workers' rights on a tea plantation, to war and protest during the country's violent uprising, to a speculative future concerned with the environment, the narrative scope of this play is truly expansive.
Matching its sophisticated rendering of grand themes and visual motifs is an opulent tableau of movement, a lavish set designed by visual artist Tiffany Singh, and an original score inspired by traditional Indian and Sri Lankan music. Also drawing on the work of Arundathi Roy and the magic realism of Salman Rushdie, TEA represents Karunaharan's epic creative vision finally realised - at Auckland Arts Festival in 2018, a special world-premiere theatre event.
This production was a recent recipient of an arts grant from the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono, and was previously sponsored by the Foundation during it's 2018 season at Auckland Arts Festival.