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Jane Horrocks stars in East is East for Trafalgar Transformed

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE second production in Jamie Lloyd’s second season for Trafalgar Transformed will be award-winning playwright Ayub Khan Din’s first play, East is East.

Directed by acclaimed young director Sam Yates and co-starring award-winning stage and screen actress Jane Horrocks as Ella Khan and playwright Khan Din as her husband, George “Genghis” Khan, it runs at the Whitehall venue from October 4, 2014 to January 3, 2015.

In this semi-autobiographical take on British Asian life in the 1970s, Pakistani chip-shop owner George Khan – “Genghis” to his kids – is determined to give his children a strict Muslim upbringing against the unforgiving backdrop of 1970s Salford. Household tension reaches breaking point as their long-suffering English mother, Ella, gets caught in the cross fire – her loyalties divided between her marriage and the free will of her children.

East is East, which premiered at the Royal Court and was later turned into a much-loved feature film, returns to the London stage after 17 years.

Jamie Lloyd said: “Having announced Martin Freeman in Richard III, I am thrilled to reveal the next production of my second Trafalgar Transformed season, with more work to be announced at a later date. Both Richard III and East is East are powerhouse plays that provoke discussion and debate – programming that reflects our location on Whitehall, just a few steps away from the centre of British politics.

“I am overjoyed to welcome the incredibly talented Jane Horrocks, who will star in Ayub Khan Din’s modern classic, and am excited that Ayub himself has agreed to play George. This will add even more weight and authenticity to this major revival of his semi-autobiographical play.

“In a drive to support emerging talent, I am pleased to introduce West End audiences to the work of Sam Yates, who will direct the production. Sam’s recent work, including The El Train with Ruth Wilson, has been dazzlingly impressive and I can’t wait to see what he creates with this unique piece.”

And Ayub Khan Din said: “It’s fantastic that East is East is having its first major London revival, as part of the exciting new season at Trafalgar Transformed. East is East will always remain a special piece for me because of its autobiographical nature and the fact that it continues to find relevance with each generation of young people that see it. I look forward to revisiting it with a new company, not just as the writer, but as an actor as well.”

Jane Horrocks’ stage credits include Annie Get Your Gun and The Good Soul of Szechuan (Young Vic), Aunt Dan and Lemon (Royal Court Theatre), Absurd Person Singular (Garrick Theatre) and Cabaret (Donmar Warehouse). However, she is probably best known for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which Jim Cartwright wrote specially for her after hearing her impression of artists such as Shirley Bassey and Judy Garland. The production ran at the National and the Aldwych Theatres, and earned her an Olivier nomination for Best Actress. It was then adapted into a film, Little Voice, and for her performance she received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations. She also recorded a CD, Further Adventures of Little Voice, which included duets with Ewan McGregor, Robbie Williams and Dean Martin.

Her other screen credits include Trollied, The Cruise, This is Jinsy, Coming Up: A Kind of Magic, Gracie, Absolutely Fabulous, Linda Green, Jericho and Never Mind the Horrocks (TV); Sunshine on Leith, Corpse Bride, Chicken Run, Life is Sweet, Memphis Belle, The Witches, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Dress Maker (film).

Ayub Khan Din was last seen on stage in May 2013, when he appeared in the tile role of Bunty Berman Presents, under the wing of The New Group at the Acorn Theatre, Off-Broadway. The musical was co-authored by Khan Din and Grammy and Emmy Award winner Paul Bogaev. He made his film debut in My Beautiful Laundrette, but is perhaps best known for the role of Sammy in Hanif Kureishi’s Sammy and Rosie Get Laid – both directed by Stephen Frears.

His TV credits include Coronation Street, London Bridge, The Chief, Dangerfield, Boon, The Bill and Poirot. Additional writing credits include Last Dance at Dum Dum, Notes on Falling Leaves, All the Way Home, Rafta Rafta, which won an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and ran at the National Theatre, West is West, All in Good Time, an adaptation of To Sir With Love, which recently completed a national tour, and Bunty Berman Presents.

As well as The El Train at Hoxton Hall, Sam Yates’ other directing credits include Cornelius by J.B. Priestley (Finborough Theatre and 59E59 Theatre, New York) and Mixed Marriage (also at Finborough Theatre).

Once again, the Trafalgar Transformed season will offer £15 Monday tickets for all productions, applicable on all seating, further encouraging first-time theatregoers to experience the exciting programming at the venue.