Stage Door News

London, UK: Why Not Theatre's “Mahabharata” will run at the Barbican October 1-7, 2023

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Why Not Theatre is thrilled to announce that Mahabharata will be performed onstage at the Barbican, London (UK) this fall. After wrapping up a successful world premiere at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the production’s cast and creative team look forward to this exciting next chapter.

Mahabharata is a contemporary take on a Sanskrit epic that is over four thousand years old and foundational to Indian culture. This gripping story of a family feud is an exploration of profound philosophical and spiritual ideas. Incorporating two large-scale plays: Mahabharata: Karma (Part 1) The Life We Inherit, Mahabharata: Dharma (Part 2) The Life We Choose, bridged by a community meal and storytelling session (Khana & Kahani), Mahabharata takes audiences on a journey through the past in order to write a thrilling new future. The two-part production will run October 1 – 7, 2023 at the Barbican Theatre.

Written and adapted by Why Not Theatre’s Co-Artistic Directors, Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes, Mahabharata features an international cast of performers from the South Asian diaspora. Incorporating multiple musical forms, from South Indian carnatic music to opera, the production celebrates a hybridity of cultures, balancing East and West, traditional and contemporary.

As Ravi explains, "When I was a student in London, the Barbican was where I saw the world's greatest directors on stage. It was the place where I sat at the foot of masters and studied their moves. 24 years later, this is a dream come true and a rare one for Canadian artists to realize.”

Miriam continues: “The seed of our Mahabharata was planted 8 years ago. The piece has grown and been nourished by an international team of artists who have created something that both in form and content truly feels like it spans the world.”

For the full Mahabharata experience, we recommend attending both parts 1 and 2 and the community meal with a storyteller (Khana & Kahani). Tickets are booked separately for each part. For a detailed synopsis of both parts see here.

Performance Details:


October 1 – 7, 2023

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, England EC2Y 8DS

A Why Not Theatre Production

In association with Barbican, London

Originally presented by and commissioned by the Shaw Festival

Tickets starting from £16 and are available through the Barbican box office HERE.


Written and adapted by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes

Using poetry from Carole Satyamurti’s Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling

Original concept developed with Jenny Koons

A Why Not Theatre Production

Originally commissioned and presented by the Shaw Festival

In association with Barbican, London

Directed by Ravi Jain

With associate director Miriam Fernandes

Set designed by Lorenzo Savoini

Costumes designed by Gillian Gallow

Lighting designed by Kevin Lamotte

Associate Lighting Designer Mikeal Kangas

Projections designed by Hana S. Kim

With associate projections designer Ann Slote

Original music and sound designed by John Gzowski and Suba Sankaran

With contributions from Dylan Bell, Hasheel Lodhia, Gurtej Singh Hunjan, and Zaheer-Abbas Janmohamed

Traditional Music Consultant Hasheel Lodhia

Stage Manager Neha Ross

Choreographer Brandy Leary

Kathakali Contributions Jay Emmanuel

Odissi Contributions Ellora Patnaik

Khana & Kahani storyteller and artistic associate Sharada K Eswar

Production Manager Crystal Lee

Mahabharata co-producer Kevin Matthew Wong

Mahabharata co-producer Michelle Yagi

Executive Director Karen Tisch

General Management by Lucky Chance Productions

* final cast and creative team to be confirmed at a later date

Photo: Miriam Fernandes.