T’was the night before Diwali

As the curtain opened at the start of the show, over 1000 smiling faces greeted our cast of 75 children. This image, captures the curtain call.. it’s the end of the show, everyone is buzzing, exhausted but happy and elevated.

Storytelling, drama and performance has a magical magnetic feeling – it can bring new people together, give confidence, create everlasting friendships and more.

Being involved with the wonderful Yog Foundation and making a show with such delightful moments of enthusiasm and with such enthusiastic people, in a school hall and close to where people live, makes you realise how important it is, to keep the debate of how the arts are funded alive. We need a proper national debate, where the arts form part of our daily lives, through new housing developments, with new communities and through social cohesion. The arts should and can be accessible to all.

The Night Before Diwali

The epic story of a kingdom, of exile and intrigue
and when darkness turns to light.

‘The Oil was sizzling awaiting the syrup with care,
In hopes that Jalebis soon would be there’

This Autumn, Nutkhut embarks on a unique and ambitious re-telling of the story of Diwali, making it accessible to a wider audience, yet retaining, at its heart a story of families and friends from this epic tale.

The Nutkhut team grew up with Diwali, we’ve read the epic front to back, back to front and upside down – as kids we’d boo and hiss at the baddies, at school we’d be singled out to share the story during whole school assemblies and as adults we are on a mission to make the story accessible to a wider audience.

On par with the epic Greek poem, Homer’s Illiad. We have taken little known moments of the Ramayana and applied theatrical techniques. We split between the present and the past and embark on the story at bedtime, with brothers and sisters excited and restless………………………

How are we doing it? With over 700 participants, 16 young South Asian artists, 25 elders, 8 oversized umbrellas, 2 thrones and a light sabre! An intergenerational, multi art form spectacle!

We are making lanterns, diyas and rangoli. Sourcing and creating costume, cutting and merging live and recorded music, making props and editing film and projections. Phew!

What have we been doing? Over the past few months, we’ve spent weekends and evenings supporting, mentoring and rehearsing with over 75 young people from North Kent and Bexley, both areas of low arts engagement and disadvantaged communities.

Our approach with this project has been to involve everyone – we don’t do things in halves – it’s the participants that have created the story – that have made choices and have engaged in the entirety of the key decisions. We are turning the making of theatre on its head, breaking down the hierarchies and involving and encouraging new artists, new ideas, families and young people, integrating dance, lanterns, music, projections and video mapping. We’ve brought together a small team of professionals to take the lead, who’ve been on similar Diwali journeys and very rarely get these types of opportunities, to support the process, mentor and train the participants and to ultimately develop a new generation of dedicated Diwali Makers from culturally diverse backgrounds.

When? Sat 3 Nov 4.30pm – 7pm
Where? Townley Grammar School, Kent
Cost? FREE – access, access, access is our mantra – where we can, our projects are free to public.

For more information or if you’d like to get involved please contact us via email, phone or drop in.

Eltham Palace

In the world of Nukthut, the monsoon rains hold a special place.

On a warm, wet, drizzly, grey, showery, 14th October, we presented our mix of community and professional dance ensembles at CultureFest at Eltham Palace. It’s fair to say the monsoon rains had decided to arrive in time for the festival.

We selected a medley of songs with the theme of rain and armed with our rain friendly chattris (umbrellas) we shared the choreography of falling droplets of rain to a wonderful inter-generational audience.

With the monsoon comes change, prosperity and often risk and as a result the monsoon season has inspired poets, musicians and artists for many thousands of years from the Indian Sub -continent. Many Nutkhut projects have included ‘rain’ as a moment of change – in our award winning ‘Bollywood Steps’ water and rain were at the heart of this show, with a grande finale where we dispensed 3000 litres of recycled rainwater into the show.

In the words of our wonderful neighbours, Greenwich Dance, “the whole of the Great Hall erupted into a scene of sequins and colour as the magical dancers from Nutkhut had everyone up and dancing.”

Photo Credit: Greenwich Dance and Nicole Guarino

Godiva Rocks!

This year, the Godiva Festival celebrated its 20th Anniversary – with our London Mela team, we hosted and programmed 7 hours of the best of British Asian live music – a road trip that took us from 16th century middle east with Qawwal from Abi Sampa and her ensemble in her unique style, the sufi mystic element of Islam, to the district of Mianwali with Attahulah Khan Isakehelvi and the heartlands of the Sairaiki region of Pakistan’s Punjab region on the edge of the Grand Trunk Road. Over the boarder to the plains of India’s Punjab for Desi Bhangra, swinging over two continents with a Southall twist with H Dhami. Then around the M25 to Essex with TOWIE’s Jasmin Walia and the sound London clubland, then back around the M25 and up the A1 to Grimsby with pop sensation Zack Knight. Then closer to home with Midlands finest, the mighty award winning Apache Indian and his music academy crew and to finish off with the punk, electro consious sounds of the Asian Dub Foundation – phew! Phenomenal, Physical and full on!

As the country largest free family outdoor festival it was a special privilege to be involved in this special event which launched Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021.

We’re looking for Stilt Walkers to join the Nutkhut Team!

If you’re a seasoned stilt walker who loves playing exciting and energetic characters, we’d love to hear from you.

We’re expanding our team of Princesses, Maharajah’s and DJ’s and are looking for great character performers with oodles of enthusiasm.

We are looking for experienced stilt walkers but your own stilts and costumes are not required just a passion for outdoor performance and a love of characterisation.

Please send your CV, Showreel and covering letter to emma@nutkhut.co.uk no later than 31st August.

Dynamic Diaspora’s

Continuing Nutkhut’s interest in how migration and history have developed contemporary culture, through art, poetry and performance, co-Artistic Director Ajay Chhabra travelled to California in July 2018.

He met with artists, policy makers and programmers in Sacramento and attended the launch of the 40th San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at City Hall, San Francisco.

Poet Laureate Kim Shuck read poems about dance with an eye to the way that traditional Cherokee Stomp Dance is used to re-balance the world. As a Tsalagi (Cherokee)/Euro-American poet, author, weaver, she has drawn from Southeastern Native American culture and tradition as well as contemporary urban Indian life.

Pictured Left to Right:  Kate Patterson-Murphy; Director of Communications, San Francisco Arts Commission, Rachelle Axel; Director of Public & Private Partnerships, San Francisco Arts Commission and Ajay Chhabra; Co-founder & Creative Director, Nutkhut


We’re off to Oslo!

We’re looking forward to heading back to the always spectacular Oslo Mela with our fabulous Princess & Maharajah Stilt Walkers this year!  We’ll be part of the official opening ceremony on 17th August and will be out and about throughout the whole festival until the 19th August.

Celebrating Thamesmead

We’ve long had an association with Thamesmead and felt very privileged to be included in their 50th Anniversary celebrations at Southmere Lake with Swyron joining over 5,500 community members who joined the party and took part in the festivities.

Chased by a Chappal

Have you ever been chased by a ‘Chappal’ before?

A generation or three of Mela goer’s will know what I mean and for those that don’t, never fear – think of a sandal or a slipper, reveal the toes – add some sparkly stuff and hey presto!

Our latest R & D with Bureau of Silly Ideas, premiered in Kent and the West Midlands, to two very different audiences.

We were keen to test the waters, with both the technology and the sketch based narrative.

Watch out for the runaway Chappal in 2019 or be chased!


The Great Get Together

We attended the Great Get Together at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford on 24th June. Jay Kumar and his fantastic Bollywood workshop full of fun and energy entertained the crowds at this family friendly event that saw over 10,000 people celebrate the diversity of East London.