The Great Experiment to tour London

London theatre news: Tuesday 10 December 2019

Off-West End - Shows - Tours

Exposing the little-known history of Indian migrant labourers indentured to work on plantations, the award-winning Border Crossings brings The Great Experiment to audiences across the capital next February.
The Great Experiment to tour London

Image courtesy Border Crossings

Devised by the award-winning Border Crossings, with performers from various backgrounds in a process led by those of Mauritian heritage, The Great Experiment exposes the little-known history of the Indian migrant labourers indentured to work on plantations around the world following the Abolition of Slavery.

The Great Experiment will tour London next year, from 6 to 23 February, with stop-offs at Dugdale Centre, Tara Theatre, Playground Theatre, Cutty Sark and Museum of London Docklands (dates and venue addresses below).

This new work recounts the moment in history when more than two million Indians were indentured to replace slave labour in Mauritius, Malaysia, the Caribbean and mainland Africa.

Directed by Michael Walling, The Great Experiment tells two parallel stories - that of the labourers and that of the actors themselves grappling with their own relationships to this difficult history and its enduring effects that are still felt today.

As the conversation surrounding migration becomes increasingly vehement and divisive, the production galvanises an urgent intercultural dialogue that both illuminates our hidden history and interrogates who has the right and the responsibility to retell it.

Having worked with expert historians and the communities descended from the indentured workers, the production also makes use of multimedia and archive footage that the audience are encouraged to explore and interact with before each performance.

Generously supported by Arts Council England, Heritage Fund, London Community Foundation and Cockayne Foundation, The Great Experiment will be staged in both theatres and museums across London alongside an exciting programme of workshops, talks and museum collection days.

Director Michael Walling commented ...

"Most of Border Crossings' previous work has been very contemporary - but the current moment seems to call for a new look at our histories, and particularly the untold histories of the British Empire.

The story of the Indentured migrations feels incredibly resonant at a time when people are travelling the world in search of a better life - not just because these Indian labourers also migrated for work, but also because their work laid the foundations for the very inequalities which make Europe and America so rich, and the global South so poor today.

Our confrontation with this history has brought into the open some incredibly powerful questions about who we are in the UK today: how our multicultural space came into being and why it contains so many unresolved divisions.

The past is not past."

Deviser-Performer Nisha Dassyne added ...

"Working on The Great Experiment, I've had to visit the ghosts and memories in my family.

They have become more concrete, more human, more accessible.

The connection to my ancestors isn't just something to talk about anymore - it's a real connection."


Nisha Dassyne

David Furlong

Tony Guilfoyle

Rosanna Lowe


Director - Michael Walling

Designer - Shiraz Bayjoo

Lighting Designer - Cat Webb

Movement Director - Maria da Luz Ghoumrassi

Assistant Director - Carlota Arencibia

Venues and dates

6th - 7th February 2020 - Dugdale Centre

39 London Road

Enfield EN2 6DS


11th - 15th February 2020 - Tara Theatre

356 Garratt Lane


London SW18 4ES


18th - 19th February 2020 - Playground Theatre

8 Latimer Industrial Estate

Latimer Road

London W10 6RQ


21st - 22nd February 2020 - Cutty Sark

King William Walk


London SE10 9HT


23rd February 2020 - Museum of London Docklands

No.1 Warehouse

West India Quay

London E14 4AL


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