Criminal Tribes Act: Extended

Theatre / Hangar

“Criminal Tribes Act: Extended” began as a piece about the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, a discriminatory and oppressive legislation brought by the British. It soon, however, evolved into a conversation on the caste-system in India.

The piece begins as a candid conversation between two actors. They talk to each other about their backgrounds, experiences, differences; then they talk to the audience, and as they do so, one becomes the speaker and the other, the subject. The conversation develops into play, evolves into drama and engenders as a piece of theatre.

It examines the inherent conflicts between the speaker and the subject, the spoken and the unspoken, and the (in)escapability of the ‘us’, ‘them’ and ‘the other’.

Please note that this show is in a Rhodes University venue and as such you will be required to show your vaccine certificate or a negative test no older than 72 hours or proof of Covid positive status within the last three months.


Concept and Direction: Sankar Venkateswaran
Written by: Anirudh Nair, Chandra Ninasam
Performed by: Chandra Ninasam, Sankar Venkateswaran
Production: Satoko Tsurudome

Sankar Venkateswaran and Satoko Tsurudome attend the National Arts Festival as part of Portals Next, a joint project across Kaserne Basel (Switzerland), National Arts Festival (Makhanda, South Africa), camaguTshawe (Gqeberha, South Africa) and Sahyande Theatre (Attappadi, India). Portals Next aims to become a sustained network of residency structures, connecting to expanding networks of artists and curators attentive to local and global audiences. This inception stage of Portals Next is supported by Pro Helvetia.


Sankar Venkateswaran (b. 1979)
Sankar Venkateswaran is a theatre director from Kerala, India. Venkateswaran studied directing at the School of Drama and Fine Arts, University of Calicut, after which he trained at the Theatre Training and Research Programme, Singapore. In 2007, he founded Theatre Roots & Wings, and directed Richard Murphet’s Quick Death (2007), Sahyande Makan: The Elephant Project (2008), Ohta Shogo’s Water Station (2011), 101 Lullabies (2012), and Henrik Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken (2012) among others.
In 2013 he received the Ibsen Scholarship from Teater Ibsen, Norway, for Tribal Ibsen Project which furthered his work with the indigenous people in the mountain valley of Attappadi, Kerala. His following works, Theriyama Nadanda Nera (2016), Udal Uravu (2017), Criminal Tribes Act (2017), and Indian Rope Trick (2020) reflect the shift in Venkateswaran’s working context.
His works have been shown at various venues and festivals such as Zurich Theater Spektakel, Theaterfestival Spielart Munich, Kyoto Experiment, Zoukak Sidewalks in Beirut, and Theater Commons Tokyo. Alongside his work with the company, Venkateswaran directed a number of works outside, such as Anton Chekhov’s Seagull (2011), Maurice Maeterlinck’s Interior (2020) for Ninasam in Heggodu, Bhasa’s Urubhangam (2011) for Shinshu University, Matsumoto, Tage der Dunkelheit (2016) and Indika (2017) for Munich Volkstheater, and When We Dead Awaken (2018) for Intercultural Theatre Institute, Singapore. His latest work is titled In My Time of Dying (2022) with Theaterhaus Jena.
Venkateswaran served as the artistic director for the International Theatre Festival of Kerala in 2015 and 2016. During his term, the programme emphasized exchanges within the Global South.
He lives and works from Sahyande Theatre, a theatre-dwelling he built in Attappadi.

Chandra Ninasam
Chandra Ninasam is a Bangalore-based theatre maker. He graduated from Ninasam TheatreInstitute, Karnataka, after which he received MA from Bangalore University. His appearances include Shogo Ohta’s Water Station (2016), solo performance Udal Uravu and Indian Rope Trick (2020). He has performed in various venues around the world, including Zurich, Munich, Beirut, Tokyo and Kyoto. He has also acted in a number of films, with Mahasamparka (dir. Santosh G.) receiving the Best Short Film Award at Bangalore International Short Film Festival in 2017.

Anirudh Nair
Anirudh Nair is a theatre practitioner based in New Delhi. He is an alumnus of University of Exeter, UK, where he completed MA in Theatre Practice under the guidance of Prof. Phillip Zarrilli. In addition, his practice has been shaped by a few key collaborators who he has worked with over the last decade including British director Anna-Helena McLean of MOONFOOL and the Actor-Chorus-Text (ACT) training, an international group of physical theatre artists, The Shakespeare Ensemble, a UK-based Original Practices Shakespeare ensemble led by Ben Crystal, and Walkabout Theater, a Chicago-based physical theatre ensemble. Nair is the co-artistic director of Guild of the Goat, a theatre company based in New Delhi. The company’s work includes Lynda Radley’s Futureproof, Danish
Sheikh’s Contempt (dir. Anirudh Nair) and Sonnets c.2019 (dir. Anirudh Nair), a devised contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Sonnets as a site-specific, bilingual, promenade production set in a house in Delhi.

  • Venue: Hangar
  • City: Makhanda
  • Location: Prince Alfred St, Grahamstown, Makhanda, 6139
  • Ticket Price: R80.00
  • Genre: Theatre
  • Duration: 65mins
  • Ages: PG12
July 01, 2022   16:00 - 17:05
July 02, 2022   12:00 - 13:05
July 02, 2022   20:00 - 21:05