Learning To Swim is a full-length play about two young women who meet by chance in a city park- a site occupied by social and political activists. Runaway teenager Rani, Western born but raised by a traditionally strict Indian family, awaits the arrival of her boyfriend at their designated meeting point. There Rani encounters Cherry, a fierce mixed-race, social activist who is grappling with her own past. In the midst of a simmering social protest that finally boils over both women learn either to sink or swim. Learning To Swim is about equality, cultural assimilation and finding courage in the face of adversity.
Its bold characters either challenge or spout old world norms exploring the difficulty faced by many immigrants who bring their value systems and try to enforce them in the West. The immigrant experience is harrowing and continues once children are born separated from their cultural homeland; growing up in different societies they are new hybrids that seek assimilation but face conflict every which way they turn. In addition, Learning To Swim explores the ‘might is right’ philosophy that upholds patriarchal control in traditional families all over the world where women are treated as inferiors. This status quo creates the opportunity for severe maltreatment of women, as witnessed in the Delhi rape case that captured the attention of the world.
RANI – A South Asian girl (aged 8 and 17) / CHERRY – Mixed race woman (aged 8, 17 and 33) / DADDYJI – The Patriarch, Rani’s granddad (aged 75 and 85) / BABA – Rani’s father (30s & 40s) / MUM – Cherry’s English mother 20s / AMMI – Rani’s mother 20s / REPORTER – A voice / A MAN
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