Fatherhood by Altered Skin is the second of three shows in Take Your Seats. It’s a is a humorous and highly-relatable look at the complications of being a father in the 21st century, and being the father of a young son of mixed South Indian, Turkish and Austrian heritage. Take Your Seats is a new initiative from house – a South East venue network – which offers a two-for-one ticket scheme and sees venues working together to bring local audiences back to theatres. We spoke to writer, choreographer and performer Shane Shambhu
What’s Fatherhood about?
It’s basically about being and having a dad, following the lives of three very different dads.
It features everyday, relatable experiences and stories across generations from the 1960s to the present day. It explores the cultural & gender expectations on fathers and what it means to be responsible for a child navigating an increasingly complex world.
How much do you think ideas and expectations of fathers have changed since you were a child?
As the son of an immigrant, my father held onto ideas of what he felt a father should be, a financial provider, masking emotions and presenting the image of a MAN! I suppose for him as a migrant, he needed to try and belong, which meant he held onto his cultural ideas of fathering. Like many other dads, I’ve been able to reflect and actively challenge those ideas and the outlook of being a father has shifted, for some. Modern fathers have started to recognise that their involvement, interaction and emotional vulnerability supports healthy development and relationships with their children.
Fatherhood uses the Indian performing artform Bharatanatyam, how would you describe Bharatanatyam to someone unfamiliar with it?
Bharatanatyam is a highly physical form of storytelling originating from South India, traditionally used to share stories from Hindu mythology. It’s often seen as a classical Indian dance style but there are many more aspects to it, including rhythmic dance, hand gestures, poetry, characterisations and multi-role play.
How much is based on personal experience?
The central story draws on my own story of navigating the role of a father to a mixed heritage child within the setting of being left with my father and father-in-law. The other two stories expand on different aspects and perspectives of fatherhood that I feel are often not understood or considered.
If the audience take one idea from the show away with them, what would you like that to be?
Every father is different and carries with them an understanding of the world closely tied to their own experiences. Just as every dad is different, every South Asian person is different and carries a different story with them – there is diversity within diversity.
What is your favourite line from the show?
“My son carries empires within him.”
Fatherhood tours the South East from 27 September to 13 October. For full tour dates and more information on the Take Your Seats initiative and two-for-one ticket scheme visit https://housetheatre.org.uk/take-your-seats