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New play explores the intertwined threads of South Asian and British history

Get to know Asif Khan, the incredibly talented actor performing in Silence at HOME
Asif Khan

Actor Asif Khan trained at RADA and has gone on to star in a huge variety of stage productions, including Handbagged, A Passage to India, Hamlet and Great Expectations.

Asif Khan

He is currently about to tread the boards at HOME in the Tara Arts production of Silence, directed by Iqbal Khan.

The play has been adapted with testimonies of people who survived partition and lived through the last days of the British Raj.

We caught up with Asif to talk about life in the industry, British and South Asian history and,of course, Manchester.

Asif Khan for Tara Theatre's Silence - photo by Harry Elletson
Asif Khan for Tara Theatre’s Silence – photo by Harry Elletson

What attracted you to the play?

Many things attracted me. The team, firstly. I love working with director Iqbal Khan and the team at Tara Theatre.

The amazing writers, and playwrights who have come together to create this work.

And very important for me, our dear friend and colleague Abdul Shayek, who sadly passed away last year, directed the original production of the piece in 2022.

I wanted to do it for him.

This production is a new take however – the script is different, the director is different, the designer is different and so is the cast.

We approached the play in rehearsal with the intention of re-discovering the piece with all these new minds in the room.
Lastly, of course, the subject matter. 

It’s my history and every time I have a chance to explore it, I learn more and more.  The stories are real experiences and it is a brilliant challenge to try and bring those stories truthfully to the stage.

Especially, as all three of my characters are in their 80s! And all three are very different, so it’s a great acting challenge. 

What would you like Manchester audiences to take away from the piece?

I would love audiences to come and learn about the history. Particularly those who don’t know anything about the partition of India.

I want them to be engrossed in the show, be transported, connect with every character, be moved, and walk away wanting to know more. 

Asif Khan
Asif Khan and Tia Dutt in Silence. Photo by Harry Elletson

What has been the best thing you have seen on stage recently and why?

It’s hard to pick one thing, but I’m going to point to The Empress, written by Tanika Gupta and directed by Pooja Ghai.

Produced by the RSC. It was epic, funny, moving and put together beautifully. 

What are the most difficult things about being an actor?

It has to be dealing with the unpredictability of the industry.

Actors work from job to job – you meet and audition for roles, some you get, some you don’t, and you never know how the next few months will play out.

When you’re young and single it’s a little easier, but when you have a family it’s just the logistics of organising your life, for example, childcare, life outside of work, and when you might be able to book that much-needed holiday!

Work sometimes takes you away from home and you miss your family. Luckily, I have a very supportive family. 

And the best?

The best thing is the work itself.  We do it because we love the work, and I take my work very seriously.

I enjoy roles I can throw myself into and discover something new about myself and what I might be capable of as an actor.

I love performing to audiences and the constant learning you do on everything you work on.

Lastly, if someone was in two minds about seeing Silence, what would you say to persuade them to come along and see it at HOME?

Come and see the show, because all the stories we share are fascinating, moving, and at times funny, and they are all very real.

It’s all our shared history, not just for South Asians, it is British history.  The team have worked incredibly hard to produce something I am deeply proud of, and the cast I am working with are amazing.
Silence is at HOME from 30th April – 4th May and you can book tickets here

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