Follow Us on Twitter

Sarai - Arcola Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SARAI, an epic journey of one woman’s unswerving determination to overcome adversity and become the founder of a new nation, will receive its world premiere at Arcola Theatre from Wednesday, October 21 to Saturday, November 7, 2015.

Sarai has been promised that she and her husband Abram will become the founders of a new nation – whose sovereignty will be established upon an old land.

This new historical narrative pays homage to the courage and wisdom of this most extraordinary woman as she contends with the formidable forces of famine, disease, persecution and civil war in order to realise her dream.

Presented by Crying in the Wilderness Productions, Sarai features the collaborative work of a team of award-winning artists to present a compelling psychological drama that will stimulate investigation, reflection and a new sense of purpose. The Company is calling this new theatrical style “Theatre of the Soul”.

Karlina Grace-Paseda (as Sarai), trained as a professional dancer at the Laban Dance Centre and London Studio Centre, and later as an actor at The Oxford School of Drama. She has worked across all genres of performance including theatre, radio, TV and short film.

Karlina’s theatre credits include lead understudy for both Death and the King’s Horseman and Welcome to Thebes at The National Theatre; Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Blenheim Palace; the title role in Queen Poku and Amado Ribeiro in The Asphalt Kiss, both at the New Diorama Theatre. She has just finished a fringe production of Macbeth.

At the pinnacle of Karlina’s dance career she became known as the face of the 90’s house band JX, working on their three top 10 hits and touring extensively wirh them in both Britain and Europe.

Karlina Grace-Paseda is accompanied by three musicians – Jenny Adejayan, Louai Alhenawi and Nao Masuda.

Jenny Adejayan is a London-born cellist of Nigerian/Grenadian descent. She has collaborated with Sir Tom Jones and Courtney Pine to Nitin Sawhney and Emeli Sande. She regularly performs with the Antonio Forcione Quartet, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra and Robyn Hitchcock among others. She has also twice performed with her own quartet at the London African Music Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Syrian musician Louai Alhenawi plays the ney, an ancient Middle Eastern end-blown flute. He was largely self-taught till the age of 18, when he decided to pursue a more formalised musical training at the newly established Conservatoire of Damascus, which offers Western-style academy training to Syrian musicians.

Louai’s presence at the Conservatoire led to its first established course in the instrument, and to its inclusion in performances by the Syrian Symphony Orchestra. His conservatoire training contributed to Louai’s confidence and development as an artist and composer in his homeland. In his short time in London Louai has already been involved in significant collaborations and extensive touring in Europe and the Middle East.

Nao Masuda is a multi-instrumentalist and specialises in Japanese Taiko drumming. For the production of Sarai, Nao merges the subtleties of South Indian percussion with classic Taiko drumming to enhance the epic nuances of the narrative.

Written and Directed by Paul Anthony Morris, Sarai has musical direction by Byron Wallen and choreography by Shane Shambhu, with design by Victoria Johnstone and lighting by Prema Mehta.

Sarai is suitable for ages 15+.

Tickets and Times: Monday to Saturday evenings at 8pm: £17, £14 concessions; Saturday matinees (October 31 and November 7) at 3:30pm: £15, £13 concessions; Opening performances (October 21 – 22): all tickets £12. Pay What You Can Tuesdays (tickets in person from 6pm – limited and subject to availability). Tickets are £10 or less with Arcola Passport.

Running time: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes (no interval).

Read more about the Arcola’s new season.