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Oldest Indian comedy performed in Wales

21 March 2012

Indian comedy - Boyd Clack webBoyd Clack, one of the stars of the comedy in the rehearsal

The oldest known Indian comedy is getting its European premiere after a University academic produced a new translation of the work.

The Sanskrit comedy The Master Madam, translated by Dr Will Johnson of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion will be performed at the East Moors Community Education Centre in Splott, Cardiff on the 29th and 30th of March 2012.

The production is a collaboration between members of different Cardiff communities - academics, professional theatre practitioners, and local people – to bring this funny, accessible work to a wider audience.

The comedy, which is in one act and attributed to an otherwise unknown playwright called Bodhayana, will be performed script-in-hand by a cast of professional actors and creatives including Ellora Adam, Boyd Clack, David Evans, Kirsten Jones, Gareth Pierce, Sule Rimi, Bobby Singh, Ruth Stringer, Jams Thomas, Sarah Louise Tyler. They will be joined on stage by members of the East Moors Community Centre Youth Club.

Speaking about the project, Dr Johnson, of the School’s Centre for the History of Religion in Asia said: "While classical Sanskrit drama has been known to the West since the late 18th century, Sanskrit comedies have been largely neglected outside India. This performance of The Master Madam, in a translation produced specifically for the Western theatre, provides a rare opportunity to enjoy a classic farce involving pompous yoga teachers, incompetent disciples, beautiful courtesans, and dodgy doctors."

Following the shows, Dr Johnson will lead a talk with the audience focusing on the Indian context of the play and exploring the challenges of bringing a new translation to life in the 21st century.

The performances start at 7.00pm on both days and are free. Advance booking is essential and places can be reserved at

The production is organised by the University’s Centre for the History of Religion in Asia in conjunction with Wing & Prayer, the National Theatre Wales Team and Cardiff Youth Services.

Related links

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Centre for the History of Religion in Asia