Guards at the Taj
Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour
7 April – 20 May
Press Night 12 April
Casting is announced today for the European premiere of Guards at the Taj, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph and directed by Jamie Lloyd. Danny Ashok (Disgraced, Bush Theatre; Capital, BBC) will play Humayun and Darren Kuppan (East is East, West End/ UK Tour)will play Babur. A new image of the cast has been released today and is now available to download here.
This darkly comic play will open the 2017 season at the Bush Theatre, following its major £4.3m capital project to revitalise the building. Guards at the Taj takes an enduring legend about the Taj Mahal and prompts audiences to explore questions about art, privilege and duty. The play premiered at the Atlantic Theater in New York to great acclaim in 2015 and is the recipient of both the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.
“If we hadn’t done our jobs tonight, we’d be hanging by our necks in the royal courtyard getting our eyes pecked out by the royal crows. So excuse me if I don’t wallow in some misbegotten guilt all night. Was it fucked up? Yes, it was. But I don’t have to feel terrible about it.”
It’s 1648. Agra, India. Imperial guards Humayun and Babur keep watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. The emperor has decreed that no one, except the masons, labourers and slaves who exist within those walls, shall turn to look at the building until it is complete.
Guards at the Taj is written by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jamie Lloyd and designed by Soutra Gilmour. Lighting design is by Richard Howell with sound design and music composed by George Dennis. Fight direction is by Kate Waters.
Danny Ashok’s credits at the Bush Theatre include the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced, which transferred to Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. Most recently at the Bush he appeared in Zaida and Aadam, part of last season’s This Place We Know. Elsewhere his theatre credits include The Djinns of Eidgah (Royal Court), Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (Theatre Royal Bath) and Blood and Gifts (National Theatre). He most recently appeared in the International Emmy Award-winning BBC Drama Capital. Further television work includes The Five, Chasing Shadows and the BAFTA-winning The Dumping Ground. He has recently finished shooting the lead role in Finding Fatimah, directed by Oz Arshad, which will be released this spring.
Darren Kuppan most recently appeared on stage in The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe). Previous credits include Cymbeline (Shakespeare’s Globe), as Maneer Khan in East Is East (West End/ UK Tour), An August Bank Holiday Lark (Northern Broadsides), England Street (Oxford Playhouse), Great Expectations (English Touring Theatre/ Watford Palace), Rafta Rafta (Bolton Octagon/ New Vic Stoke), the lead in Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Aladdin, Arabian Nights (New Vic Stoke) and Bollywood Jane (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Television work includes Spooks and Britannia High.
Jamie Lloyd (director) has directed many productions in the West End for The Jamie Lloyd Company, including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class (Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for James McAvoy), Macbeth (Olivier nomination for Best Revival), The Hothouse, Richard III and The Pride. He won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical for Passion while he was Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse (2008 to 2011) and the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for The Pride (Royal Court). Lloyd’s other extensive credits include Urinetown (St. James Theatre/ West End), The Commitments (West End/ UK Tour), The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic), She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre), The Faith Machine, Inadmissible Evidence, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Polar Bears (all Donmar Warehouse), Piaf (Donmar Warehouse/ Vaudeville/Teatro Liceo, Buenos Aires/Nuevo Teatro Alcala, Madrid; Olivier nomination for Best Musical Revival, Hugo Award for Best Director, Clarin Award for Best Musical Production, ADEET Award for Best Production) and Three Days of Rain (West End; Olivier nomination for Best Revival). He is currently directing a double bill of Philip Ridley’s work, Killer and The Pitchfork Disney, at Shoreditch Town Hall.
Rajiv Joseph (playwright) became a Pulitzer Prize finalist (2010) for his Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which starred Robin Williams in his Broadway debut. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre). Screen credits include seasons 3 & 4 of the TV series Nurse Jackie and he was the co-screenwriter of the film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.
Soutra Gilmour (designer) is an award-winning designer whose extensive credits include many productions in collaboration with Jamie Lloyd. She has designed several productions for The Jamie Lloyd Company in the West End including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class, Richard III, The Pride, The Hothouse and Macbeth. Previous work at the Bush Theatre includes Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur’an.