17th June 2019
Professional actress Taj Atwal returned to her old stomping ground at York College to work on improvisations with performing arts students, as inspiration for a new play she is working on for the Arts Council.
Taj, who is most recently known for playing PC Tatleen Sohota in the BBC’s Line of Duty, explored the students’ ideas on adolescence, to inform her latest drama project. She said: “‘This new play; ‘Paradise Fields’ covers the themes of homelessness, poverty, coming of age, survival, courage and ultimately love and sacrifice. It is a coming of age play that follows the story of two young teenage girls and their lonely journey through adolescence, homelessness and survival. Growing up is hard - especially if you’re 16, just left home and are starving. Exploring these concepts with the students at York College was really powerful and I was so impressed with them, they have so much confidence.”
At the end of the workshop, Taj opened up the room to a discussion of her play and ended with an industry Q&A. It was a chance for the students to ask questions about working in the industry, such as getting into drama school, writing, directing and finding agents.”
The students were inspired by Taj’s visit, saying:
“It was such a fun workshop as we explored our own identities. We helped Taj with her writing by sharing our experiences as teenagers, becoming adults. Taj and the other theatre professionals gave us an understanding of how to become creative practitioners in the performing arts” - Mia Brown (progressing to Mountview)
“It was the perfect look into professional theatre. Taj gave really good advice for my future career as an actor” - Tom Henshaw (progessing to LIPA)
“The workshop was thought provoking and insightful and we got a real look at the way industry professionals work on their own projects, and the reality of the industry and different ways that young actors can get themselves into work.“ - Lauryn Thompson (progressing to the University of Northumbria)
“I thought it offered a great insight into the industry and what it takes to be a part of it.” - Shayna Lockwood-Kellett (progressing to ALRA in Leicester)
Taj studied Performing Arts at York College (2004 - 2007) and progressed to the Guildford School of Acting. She is enjoying a successful career as an actor, securing high profile roles including; Jasminder in the Ruth Jones BAFTA Cymru award winning comedy ‘Stella’ on Sky 1, guest roles in comedies ‘Miranda’ and ‘In with the Flynn’s’ and appearances in the ‘Moving On’ series, created by Jimmy McGovern. Taj also starred in the BBC’s comedy series ‘In The Club’ and made her West End debut in the revival of ‘East is East’ alongside Jane Horrocks. She has also appeared in No Offence, Death on the Tyne and Thunderbirds are Go.