The Thelmas: Coconut

Content by Chloe Nelkin Consulting.

Based on writer Guleraana Mir’s real experience of interracial and intercultural relationships, Coconut will embark on a UK tour this summer. This fresh new play challenges dated Asian female stereotypes with an honest portrait of the contemporary British Asian experience. With its unremitting humour, Mir explores the impact of religion and faith – and the lack of it – in modern romance.

As her faith wanes, Rumi enjoys a glass of wine and a bacon sandwich more than a trip to the mosque. A British Pakistani woman, born and raised a Muslim, she may have hit the jackpot with Simon who is willing to convert to Islam to keep her family happy. But, as Simon begins to explore his faith, Rumi’s world begins to spin off its axis.  

Coconut will see the professional debut of Kuran Dohil as Rumi. The cast will also include Jimmy Carter (The Giant Killers, Edinburgh Fringe; Othello, Baron Court’s Theatre; Romeo and Juliet, Iris Theatre) as Simon and Tibu Fortes (A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Shakespeare’s Globe; Requiem, BBC/Netflix; People Just do Nothing, BBC3) who will play Riz and the Imam. 

Although irreverent in tone, this dark comedy tackles grey areas of emotional and religious coercion. Coconut refers to the controversial term used to describe someone who is brown on the outside and white on the inside and this production does not shy away from interrogating the contemporary British Asian experience.

Mir’s writing is side-achingly funny at times … and deeply affecting at others … hits both a zeitgeist and the universality of coming to terms with your own identity. (FemaleArts) Writer Guleraana Mir explains, Coconut is a story I don’t see being told, it is genuinely representative of the realities of living in a multicultural society; relatable, regardless of what culture you’re from. It was very important to me, when creating the characters of Rumi and Simon, that they were honest, both to themselves and each other. Sometimes that honesty is hilariously funny, and other times it is painfully uncomfortable. But at the heart of the play is a woman trying to stay truthful to herself, in a way that we wouldn’t really expect from an Asian stereotype, which is why audiences have loved her.

Beginning life as a fifteen minute monologue produced as part of the Camden Fringe, the current production of Coconut is the result of research, development and support from the New Diorama Theatre’s BAMER programme, Diorama Arts Studios and Park Theatre’s Script Accelerator programme. The production is funded by Arts Council England. This tour is supported by In Good Company, the East Midlands’ flagship artist professional development programme.

The Thelmas are a female-led theatre company focused on championing the voices of women in theatre. They aim to disrupt traditional female narratives and make theatre that is big, bold and emotionally resonant. They are a New Diorama Emerging Company 2017/18. Coconut is their first touring production.

The Thelmas Coconut

UK dates

The Thelmas are very grateful for the support of Arts Council England, Ovahlouse Theatre, In Good Company, New Diorama Theatre’s BAMER programme, Diorama Arts Studios and Park Theatre’s Accelerator programme in the development of COCONUT.

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