Inclusivity is at the heart of Made in (India) Britain, an hour-long play by Deaf comedian and theatre maker Rinkoo ‘Roo’ Barpaga. This eye-opening show presents an immersive untold story of a repressed Deaf British-Asian man. Using comedy as a medium for recounting difficult and complicated topics, Roo unapologetically uses sign language throughout the production, adding to the immersive element of the show.
Roo brilliantly weaves stand-up comedy with physical theatre whilst exploring the topics of ableism and racism, focusing on the experience of displacement and finding a supportive community.
Discussing the show at The Foundry Festival, Roo said: “The focus is on my identity and where I belong. I have faced some hard times throughout my life, and that is what I want to try to incorporate and reflect on in the play. There will be a bit of comedy as well.”
Roo tells his coming-of-age tale with little to work with but a chair and a spotlight. Having grown up as a Deaf Punjabi boy from Birmingham, Roo has been forced to adapt to a society that does not accommodate him. Made in (India) Britain highlights the daily struggles of being different, having been subjected to the likes of Enoch Powell’s harmful societal impact to falling into bouts of unemployment. Rather than following a linear plot, the show is fuelled by emotions and feelings, propelled by Roo’s theatrical signing and passion for the subject.
Roo added: “I have been thinking carefully about how the audience will react to my show, and I realised that my story is an untold story. There is nobody else out there talking about being deaf, from the global majority and living the hard way.”
Built to cater for all audiences, Roo brings along his translator, who brings his British Sign Language to life. There are also closed captions available.
Challenge your mindset and question what you know with this powerful performance. Roo has a magnetism that both inspires and reminds you of the reality of life for marginalised members of society searching for a sense of identity. Avoiding spoilers, the show sidesteps a neatly wrapped ending, instead finishing with an open vow of continuing to fight for acceptance, respect, and visibility.
Made in (India) Britain is making its Norwich Theatre Stage Two debut on 1 Oct. The show is entirely performed in British Sign Language, with Spoken English translation and Closed Captions available via smartphones on the Talking Birds Difference Engine App.