ASHA Performing Arts
ASHA is a new performing arts group, based in the West Midlands.
ASHA, which means hope, is passionate about sharing God’s love with South Asian women through storytelling, mime, drama and dance.
We do this by choosing Bible stories that either feature women or have themes that are particularly appealing to South Asian women such as honour, shame, family, food and hospitality.
All our performances have a unique Asian look and feel as we incorporate multi lingual script, Asian songs and dance. Afterwards, we run small discussion groups to give women the opportunity to respond to what they have just seen and to ask any questions.
Below is a taste of some of the performances we have done so far ...
Joshua and the walls of Jericho: we retold this popular story from the perspective of Rahab the prostitute, drawing out themes of God’s acceptance, faithfulness & deliverance.
Christmas: we started with Mary’s predicament: how to share the news of her miraculous pregnancy in a shame culture.
Christmas: we showed how Herod was furious at the news of Jesus' birth. Through comedy, we explained the meaning of the three gifts the Wise Men brought and we ended by celebrating the birth of Jesus.
‘We learnt something new, we didn’t know Elizabeth was pregnant the same time as Mary’ – J from Bradford
'You made me cry' – L from Birmingham
'They all sat mesmerized by the story' – church leader, Bradford
Easter: we focussed on Mary Magdalene’s grief at Jesus’ death. We showed the women going to the tomb early in the morning to prepare Jesus' body for burial but imagine their shock when they encounter an Angel instead.
Easter: as the women turn to leave the empty tomb, Jesus meets them! Mary Magdalene's grief turns to joy and she worships Him through dance.
'Within a few minutes, I could tell this was a professional group.' – D from Leeds
Mary and Martha: we set this drama in a kitchen filled with typical utensils that every Asian woman would recognise. We showed Martha getting stressed at all the preparations that needed to be made for Jesus' arrival. Her sister Mary emphasised how Jesus values what’s in our hearts rather than how many items we've cooked or how clean our homes are.
Mary and Martha: food and hospitality is a key part of Asian culture so our ‘Mary & Martha’ drama was a huge hit with the women!
'I could see Martha in me' – A from Birmingham
'You really brought it home' – S from Birmingham
'Loved the message' – H from Birmingham
'Thoughtful, well planned and executed' – church leader, Birmingham
“I joined ASHA after having been out of the performing arts scene for a while. I was praying, asking God to direct me to whatever He had next for me. I met Shely through a mutual friend and as we started to talk and share our hearts with each other, it became clear that we were on the same page; we both wanted to reach out with the Gospel, to declare the good news, while using the gift God had given us.
ASHA is not just a team that uses performing arts for the sake of performing. It has such a unique purpose — to reach South Asian women with the Gospel — and through drama, dance and storytelling we can communicate God’s love in a way that words alone could never do.” AK
Meet the team
As a second generation British Indian, I grew up with a unique insight into both British and Asian culture. As a child, I’d look forward to the weekend because we’d get to watch 2-3 Bollywood films back to back! I loved the dramatic storylines, the dancing, the songs, the dream sequences and of course, the dazzling outfits. I would even act out my favourite scenes or dance routines.
Acting has always been a passion of mine, whether I’m performing alone or working with a cast on a large-scale production.
It was only in my mid-twenties that I first started to read the Bible and learn about God. I remember being particularly struck by the stories of ordinary women who encountered God and their lives were never the same again. I had no idea the Bible was such an exciting book and now I want to inspire other women!
My Asian background and my love of acting helps me to share Bible stories in a way that is creative and easy for women to relate to and understand.
Originally from Sweden, I grew up in a non-faith environment, but became a Christian at the age of 18.
My passion for the performing arts started early and I attended ballet classes as a child and took part in drama performances at school.
Later I joined a performing arts school called “Kreativ Mission” (Sweden), where I got further training in mime, dance and drama. At this school I also met my husband and we moved to England shortly after getting married.
I am currently working part time as a bookkeeper, and in my spare time I enjoy spending time with the family, going for walks, reading and cross stitching.
I've always had an interest in arts and started dancing when I was 4 years old. When I was 12 I got to act properly for the first time and it felt as though I came alive on stage. I love the focus, practice and energy that is required to perform for people. I was able to act annually in a school play, and the rehearsals were what would get me through the long school days.
When I was 17 I went to a Christian Summer Theatre School, where I first experienced the powerful way theatre could be used to speak into people's lives and bring transformation.
I moved to the UK in 2015 (I grew up in the Netherlands) and studied vocals at Nexus ICA for three years, but during this time I also got to do some drama and work on my backstage skills including costume & make-up and physical set design.
This past year I've been working with Arts Release, exploring a variety of art-forms to share the Gospel, and collaborating with some very skilled artists and learning from them, including working on an Easter story with ASHA in April 2019.
We’re keen to partner with churches & organisations, who share our vision. For more information or if you’d like us to perform at one of your events, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org