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Padmadaka is director of Triratna’s Karuna Trust. He writes to let us know about ’Untouchable’, a new play about the life of Dr Ambedkar (including an appearance by a certain ‘Private Lingwood’) to be performed for the first time, in London, at the RADA festival, 30th June-8th July. More details here.
“ ‘Untouchable’ is directed by Kathryn Hunter, a theatre and film actor, and longstanding supporter of the Karuna Trust’s work with the poorest people in India and Nepal. Together with her Assistant Director, they came to our offices where we discussed various aspects of Ambedkar’s significance in the fight against caste discrimination as well as Karuna’s work in India and Nepal.
The play will chronicle some of the key stages in Ambedkar’s life. ‘At school, he wasn’t allowed to sit on a chair. He had to sit on the ground on a sack. He couldn’t drink water out of the jug provided for the others, but had to wait till it was poured for him into his special cup.’ It will also cover the period when he became independent India’s first Law Minister and the chair of the committee which wrote its constitution. It also explores his conversion, and that of millions of his followers, to Buddhism.
One of the most tricky questions it tackles concerns Ambedkar’s relationship with Gandhi and how his vision was starkly opposed to Gandhi’s. This play shows their separate colliding paths and Gandhi’s ‘fast to the death’ against Ambedkar’s policy.
The play will run 30th June - 8th July. Although not a full-budget production, it may develop into a bigger production, depending on the success of the festival. Do go and see it!
Kathryn came across Dr Ambedkar about 12 years ago when she picked up a copy of Ambedkar and Buddhism by Sangharakshita. Indeed, Bhante’s character makes an appearance in the play, both as ‘Private Lingwood’ and later as a monk! The writer of ‘Untouchable’, Peter Oswald, is a well-known playwright, and recently interviewed Bhante about his meetings with Dr Ambedkar.
Many of us from Karuna will be there and we’d like to invite anyone with an interest in Ambedkar to come and see what should be an excellent piece of theatre!”