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UK premiere of inspiring play Gauhar coming to Watermans Arts Centre

Gauhar - based on an incredible true story - is at the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford until Saturday

Primetime Theatre Company and Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford has brought the UK premiere of stunning play Gauhar to west London.

The play, which is running until Saturday October 15, is inspired by the story of early 20th century Indian megastar Gauhar Jaan, the first Indian woman to have her voice recorded by a record label.

Gauhar Jaan (1873 - 1930) was one of India's most famous recording artists, having recorded over 600 songs from 1902 to 1920 in many Indian languages, signing off each with the phrase "My name is Gauhar Jaan".

Inspired by Vikram Sampath's book, My Name is Gauhar Jaan: The Life and Times of a Musician, the play is written by Mahesh Dattani and directed by acclaimed actress Lillete Dubey.

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Ms Dubey said: "Gauhar was the Amy Winehouse of her time... Super talented, very young. At 15 she was composing, she was writing, she was singing, all at 14 or 15 years old! She was a prodigy.

"She was the first woman ever to sing on a record, she sang on a wax record, and the challenge was the kind of music [classical Hindustani music] is very freeflowing, like jazz... it's very complex... normally this music could go on for hours, but wax records could only take two and a half minutes.

"All the purists said 'oh my God, this is not possible', but she took up the challenge... She was a real rock star of her time."

(Image: Watermans Arts Centre)

Gauhar features live singing and a cast of seven actors; Rajeshwari Sachdev and Zila Khan play the lead at different ages, and Denzil Smith doubles up as Fred Gaisberg (the recording engineer at Gramophone Company of London) and her father. Danny Sura, Gillian Pinto, Rajeev Siddhartha and Parinaz Jal complete the team.

Music by Farooque Khan, Shambhu Lahari and Lokesh Kumar Gandharv was recorded for the production.

Having been performed at 30 shows around India, this inspiring story is coming to the UK for the very first time.

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Ms Dubey, who founded Primetime Theatre Company in 1991, said: "My theatre company is largely interested in promoting and platforming Indian plays, which are in English of course.

"We tell Indian stories which are very Indian in spirit and cause, but are centred around human relationships so it doesn't matter where they're set... At the end of the day, the stories are universal."

Tickets cost from £15 for adults, and from £12.50 for concessions. Book yours online here.

Watermans Arts Centre, 40 High Street, Brentford, TW8 0DS - 020 8232 1010

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