Brexit, Britain and Bharatanatyam Inspire a Cockney Classic

On Saturday 3 November, Shane Shambhu and Altered Skin present Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer at Kala Sangam. In this funny and honest solo, Complicite Associate, Shane Shambhu combines Indian dance and stand-up comedy to lead audiences on a revealing journey of his life.

Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer, which opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, is the work of actor, director, choreographer and performance artist Shane Shambhu, a first generation British Asian born and raised in the cultural melting pot of Newham East Ham, London.

It charts his journey from unlikely dance student to rude boy to marketing manager to performer, through his dedicated study of the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, something that remained hidden from his potentially judgmental East End peers.

Just as remarkable as Shambhu’s progress towards critically acclaimed artist and Director of production company Altered Skin is the fact that, unlike most students of classical Indian dance, who hail from a background of family wealth, Shane’s origins are distinctly working class. His father was a fork-lift driver and his mother worked at the Ford motor plant in Dagenham – who sent their son off to the temple to dance not as an exercise in cultural grounding but as a response to his burgeoning pre-teen weight.

While the British public has been treated to the BBC’s ‘Big Asian Summer Season’, Shambhu’s Confessions OF A Cockney Temple Dancer acutely observes the characters that have shaped his life of growing up at the heart of the Keralan community in East London. With a multi-lingual script, Shambhu has discovered a fresh approach to engage with contemporary audiences and invite them into his world involving a vivid display of characters, lived experiences and comical personal reminiscences.

Against the lengthening shadow of our departure from the European Union a small but significant one-man show continues its UK tour throwing comic light into the dark corners of what it is to be a ‘citizen of nowhere’, a son of immigrants and a product of Britain’s colonial history.

With his inimitable charm and wit, Shane will have you laughing out loud as he reveals his past through a vivid display of characters, lived experiences and comical stories, reflecting on how race, language, identity and cultures have defined him and his career.

This performance also features a post-show discussion, where theatre-goers will have the opportunity to ask any burning questions about the performance with Shane Shambhu. Whether you’re a lover of classical Indian dance or relate to a story of identity and immigration, this will be a humorous experience for the whole family.

Visit Kala Sangam on Saturday 3 November at 7.30pm to be entertained about what it means to be British – today. Tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door, so make sure you book in advance to make a saving.

Secure your tickets at, phone 01274 303340 or call into Kala Sangam in person.