Caste Away Arts are an innovative theatre and production company tackling taboo issues. They are the artistic wing of the charity CasteWatchUK and have fast made a name for themselves. Their mission is to work towards eliminating discrimination and promoting equality through theatre and arts, with particular focus on communities “cast away” from society. Celebrating diversity , working with BME communities and using a holistic approach to arts and theatre are at the heart of their agenda.
Caste Away Arts was founded by Reena Jaisiah and Rena Annobil In 2007 the pair’s paths crossed when joining the charity CasteWatchUK, a charity, who aim to eliminate caste discrimination in the UK. The two Re(e)na’s were passionate about humanitarian advocacy and utilised their creative skills to write a play about caste discrimination based on true life experiences of people that they met throughout their research journey. In early 2006 they wrote a play, The Fifth Cup, and produced it with the support of Caste Watch UK and Arts Council. It all started with tackling Caste and thus how they got their name – Caste Away Arts.
After working themselves to the bone, their hard work paid off when their debut The Fifth Cup sold out at The Drum theatre in Birmingham in December 2007. The following year in 2008 Caste Away Arts took the Fifth cup on a UK tour. Their endeavours were recognised in the Pride of Coventry Community Projects awards in 2008 after the national tour success . Since then they have fronted many projects in the Midlands and the South of England. Caste Away Arts remain passionate about using theatre to break down barriers, eliminate discrimination and promote equality. They are committed to producing high quality entertainment with a strong social message and work in the local community with real people. Caste Away Arts were Instrumental in the campaign of making Caste discrimination unlawful in 2013!
Caste Away Arts are forever growing and are committed to raising awareness of CasteWatchUk’s campaign for equality through the arts. They are supported by CasteWatchUK in all their endeavours as well as many other organisations. Rena Annobil has now left Caste Away Arts to peruse her career with the BBC.
Reena Jaisiah (FRSA) – Artistic Director, Founder & Creative Director.
Reena’s journey is that of the Hare and the Tortoise as she was a late bloomer but had this habit of catching up! Having Dyslexia was alienating growing up for her but this purported ‘disability’ is a force that fuels her tenacity and fertile imagination. Inquisitive Reena studied Social Sciences and being a maverick this aroused her interest in social debates . Thrown into the deep end of an arts placement cultured an array of skills and she discovered her ability to connect with young people. Reena candidly confronted Caste Discrimination as part of her MA and was the first person to publicly speak out about about this when joining Caste Watch UK. Reena used her creative roots to reach people. Reena met Rena Annobil and duo built a dynamic work ethos…Caste Away Arts! Together they wrote and produced their sell-out play The Fifth Cup and the following year went on a national tour. Years and battles later Caste Discrimination became outlawed in the UK as a consequence of their efforts. Reena unearths a voice for those oppressed through theatre and later she trained at Drama School- another wall she pushed! Reena was commissioned to create projects to tackle sticky stigma around Autism (Not literally) and she wrote and directed a short advert to encourage the BME community to access counselling services.
In 2009 The Royal Society of Arts recognised Reena’s efforts and nominated her for a fellowship for her ‘contribution to the Arts, her endeavours to encourage positive social relations and eliminate racial discrimination, and following her participation in Prison Link and her work to support individuals with Autism.’
Reena has a wealth of experience as an enterprising Business Women, a Complimentary Therapist and a Life Long Learning Teacher whom currently works with young people – a species that truly make her buzz! Reena taught drama in Shakespeare’s home town and visited countless schools and youth centres. She made time to travel to abroad to visit and deliver arts workshops to the War affected communities and has extended this work in the UK with a Creative voluntary integration project –Release UK for immigrant communities living in the UK. Reena has fronted countless projects including a commission by Sandwell Leisure Trust and is a regular fixture at Coventry Godiva festival with storytelling. She is the Creative Director of Women on TOP, a poignant collaborative project with Kairos working with vulnerable Women that celebrates the voices of Women in theatre. During International women’s week 2011 Reena was nominated by Oxfam as one of the Midlands 100th most inspirational Women for her personal and community accomplishments. In 2012 The Women on Top cast received a Women’s Achievement award by Reena for their dedication and success of WOT MONOLOGUES performed at Warwick University on Internationals Women’s day- Took real ovaries to do this!
Reena Jaisiah was head hunted by Coventry Belgrade Theatre’s Community and Educational team and now runs their Asian Youth Theatre part time. She is a state holder in the wide Asian community in Coventry and had brought together one of the most diverse youth theatres in the West Midlands. Her work includes a collaboration with Vamos Theatre called Somewhere to Belong that tackled Radicalisation. Her work at the Belgrade has been a huge success and will be touring soon.
Keen on martial arts and dance and is an avid Painter, photographer and Poet eminent for her shambolic hand writing. It’s no surprise her poem Alchemy from Scribbles was selected for publication for Rasp’s anthology whom Reena writes blogs for. Other writing contributions include BBC reports and poetry features for magazines and books. Reena is saturated with inspiration for Caste Away Arts and is working on lots of project that develop the work of others.
Ravina Rai – Secretary
Sandip Dulai – Treasurer and Women On Top Production manager
Rang-Zeb Rango Hussain – Publicity and press Officer