Tales of Birbal - Studio blog

Introduce yourself/ company

Hello! My name is Trina. I’m a theatre maker, producer, director and a Mashi. What’s a Mashi? Well, in the Asian culture (I’m Bengali, born and raised in the Midlands) a Mashi is your maternal aunt, but not necessarily a blood relative. Kind of like Aunty Betty who comes round and makes cakes every Sunday, but she’s not your real aunt. Do you know what I mean?

In 2013, I established and became Artistic Director of Mashi Theatre. Our vision is to share universal stories steeped in culture and hand them over to a new generation. 

What is Tales of Birbal all about?

There are two women with you on stage for 50 minutes, a Mashi and a niece (Bhanji).  They are upbeat, playful, innovative and cheeky. They are survivors. They are not related but they are a family. They also happen to be homeless. They make their living by telling stories about the great Moghul Emperor Akbar and his clever and funny advisor Birbal. These are legendary stories from my own childhood (a bit like Aesops’s fables) with a little added ‘masala’ from the Indian Subcontinent, adapted for local families. 

We use puppetry designed by Leicester Puppet Maestro, Sue Pyecroft, captivating music and song, composed especially for the show, by Jazz musician Arun Ghosh and a delightfully engaging and comical script written by Coventry based writer Sayan Kent.

You do a lot of work in schools and libraries etc. Do you enjoy working outside a normal theatre environment?

I love it! I’m passionate about bring a quality theatrical experience to all communities. Taking an audience on a journey back in time, to another continent, often using different languages, all from the space of their local library/school is super exciting. It is a different kind of audience to a regular theatre-going audience. They are creating new rules of how to enjoy theatre in different spaces and I relish being a part of that opportunity, learning alongside them and wondering where we might take it next.

Why do you think parents should bring their children to experience theatre/ performance?

Theatre of course is a chance to switch off your mobile or laptop, and to be with other human beings and share something unique with your children.

Mashi is about sharing stories for the child in all of us. Some of my favourite moments of watching audiences enjoy the show are when children laugh at different moments to the adults; when a child recognises a word from their culture that they don’t usually hear outside of their home environment; when an audience member re-lives a moment from their own childhood, all in the short space of time, with a room full of strangers, an experience never to be repeated again but your own individual experience to share or not on your way home. What’s not to love about that?

Sum up the show in 3 words!

Vibrant, funny, inventive.

You can see Tales of Birbal in our Studio on Saturday 14 October at 1 & 3pm, book tickets here.