Playwright Tanika Gupta’s Lions and Tigers, a play on the life of an Indian freedom fighter, has won this year's James Tait Black Prize for Drama. Tanika, who won the Asian Achievers Awards hosted by Asian Voice last year for her role in Arts and Culture, has reportedly won £10,000 as the James Tait Black Prize, organised by the Edinburgh University in association with Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland and the Traverse Theatre. The reward was announced at an award ceremony on 20 August in Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, hosted by television and radio presenter Shereen Nanjiani.
Lions and Tigers, which was enacted 70 years after India's independence, is based on the true story of Tanika Gupta’s great-uncle Dinesh Gupta, a Bengali revolutionary who fought against British colonial rule in the early 1930s. The Letters he wrote from his prison cell provided the foundation of Tanika Gupta’s ambitious and emotive drama, offering fresh insight into India's independence struggle and the battles between the so-called British lions and the Bengal tigers. The production had premiered in August 2017 at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, as part of Shakespeare’s Globe’s Festival of Independence. It was directed by Pooja Ghai, associate director of Theatre Royal Stratford East.
The drama award was launched in 2012, when Britain’s oldest literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes, were extended to include a category to celebrate innovative playwriting. Uniquely, the drama prize is judged by emerging artists, students and established theatre experts, rather than critics.
Previous winners include: David Ireland’s confrontational tragicomedy Cyprus Avenue (2017); Gary Owen’s one-woman monologue, Iphigenia in Splott (2016); Gordon Dahlquist’s sci-fi play Tomorrow Come Today; Rory Mullarkey’s Cannibals (2014); and Tim Price’s acclaimed drama The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning (2013).