Caste Away Arts are an innovative arts, theatre and production company that actively tackling taboo. They uniquely create a voice for untold stories and voices. They originally started out as the artistic wing of the charity Caste Watch UK and fast made a name for themselves. One of their missions is to work towards eliminating discrimination and promoting equality through arts, with particular focus on communities “cast away” from society. Celebrating diversity , working with BAMER communities and using a holistic approaches to arts and theatre are at the heart of their agenda.
Caste Away Arts was founded by Reena Jaisiah and Rena Anobil In 2007. They were both involved in Caste Watch UK, a charity, who aim to eliminate caste discrimination in the UK. Passionate about humanitarian advocacy they 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 .
Caste Away Arts are forever growing and are committed to raising awareness of Caste Watch Uk’s campaign to make Caste Discrimination unlawful. Rena left shortly after to peruse her career with the BBC Asian network. Caste Away Arts became a CIC in 2018 and is growing.
Reena Jaisiah (FRSA) – Artistic Director, Founder & Creative Director.
Reena is the Artistic director who had a late start in life but has this amazing habit of catching up. Having Dyslexia was alienating for her growing up but this purported ‘disability’ is a force that fuels her tenacity and fertile imagination. Being a maverick she studied Social Sciences and this aroused her interest in social debates. 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. She co- wrote and produced the sell-out play The Fifth Cup and the following year went on a national tour. Years and battles later Caste Discrimination was taken to parliament.
In 2009 The Royal Society of Arts recognised Reena’s efforts and nominated her for a fellowship for her ‘contribution to the Arts, her endeavors 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 a Life Long Learning Teacher whom currently works with young people. Reena has visited over 70 schools and taught drama in Shakespeare’s home town. 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 is the Creative Director of Women on TOP, a poignant collaborative project with Kairos working with Women caught up in sex work and addiction. 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 the Coventry Belgrade Theatre’s Community and Educational team and now runs their Asian Youth Theatre. She is a stake 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 and directing a sight specific theatre ‘City Final’ with The Coventry Evening Telegraph in 2018. Reena also devised and directed a short film ‘Lock your Doors’ with Paven Virk with the Belgrade.
Reena won Citizen of the year by Coventry city council for her work in the arts was invited to the Queen’s Garden party in 2017 for her great work.
Secretary and LAC Project Developer Ella Dhillon
Ella joined Caste Away Arts in 2018. Already working with Reena at the Belgrade as a support worker, Ella has shown sheer determination, initiative and passion. She was snapped up straight away . Ella is responsible for all the organisational aspects of the company as well as developing projects to work with young people in the care system.
Ella is passionate about the right’s of Children and is training as a lawyer. Her work with young people has led her to be a advocate for Voices of Care Coventry . She is also involved in the recruitment of Foster Carer’s in Coventry and is regularly at Council house meetings. Ella with the Voices of Care Coventry won Outstanding Citizens Awards!
Associate Director and funding officer – Ellie House
Ellie House is a freelance consultant, project manager and Director of AYVA who has been devising, implementing and evaluating community projects for over 15 years. She has recently joined Caste Away Art’s since becoming a CIC and hopes to steer the organisation into a positive direction.
She is fascinated with the effect individual and community living environments have on mental and emotional health. As well as a broad experience in transformative built environment projects, Ellie has also spent the last four years working with women who are experiencing, or at risk of, sexual exploitation, trauma, addiction and homelessness. In 2017 Ellie delivered a talk at TEDx and continues to do work that is ground breaking and life changing.Her experience extends to strategic program development, operational delivery, financial management and facilitating meaningful community involvement in all she undertakes.
Leshanth Uthayanan – Healing Arts workshop assistant and Mentee
Leshanth is a Caste Away Arts veteran! He joined our project ‘Release UK’ in 2010 when he was only 10. Since then he has excelled and become more and more passionate about social issues. He is a natural academic and genius at heart but has taken up creative arts in his stride . He has performed and been involved in numerous initiatives such as the Leicester Sky Ride festival, Breaking the Silence stage play and the Ekatva project with children from the ‘slums’ where he took a peer mentoring role. He was a writer of a poem in the book project ‘Cambogas Scream out Silence which highlights the struggles of war torn families that have moved to the UK. His work has been highly valued over the years and as you can see his pictures dominate this website. In his free time Leshanth is a master chess player and a member of the Belgrade Youth Theatre. He is currently a workshop assistant on the ‘Play-up’ drama project in Hospitals to those receiving dialysis . His caring and and nature has earned him trust and made him popular in the wards among the participants and staff.
Rang-Zeb Rango Hussain – Publicity and press Officer
Rang-Zeb also known as Rango is a freelance photographer with a passion for community and arts. Rango has worked with Caste Away Arts on our book publication and was the graphics designer of the book cover. He is keen to promote out work as our ethos of promoting equality and celebrating diversity runs in his blood. Rango is also a poet and artist. watch this space