Trina Haldar: ‘I studied drama alongside engineering’

Trina Haldar set up Mashi Theatre in 2013 to address the lack of high-quality, diverse work for young people. She tells Tim Bano about her show Tales of Birbal, playing at Brighton Festival before touring the country…

Have you always been interested in theatre?

I did a degree in chemistry and qualified as a traffic engineer just as I got into theatre. It could be so easy to display this very typical Asian family who did science, but actually my mum was my big introduction into theatre. When I was growing up we saw brilliant musicals – The King and I, The Sound of Music – but in terms of what was reflected on the screen, they were not people like me. Looking back now, I wonder if that’s why parents don’t push children into that.

How did you end up becoming a theatremaker?

When I was an engineer I did a drama course in the evenings. I also used to volunteer for the East End Shed, who work with differently abled young people. I came across the opportunity to do a black and minority ethnic scheme through the Arts Council, called First Stage. I sent off the application thinking, ‘I’m an engineer, they’re probably going to laugh at this’, then I got an interview. I was offered a year with Nottingham Playhouse. I packed my bag after living in London for 10 years and moved to Nottingham.

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Hi, I’m Trina