"Second Generation engages with pressing issues of race and culture from a collection of interacting personal perspectives"Poster/ Vidkya Divakaran

Staged by one of the most exciting and boundary pushing student theatre companies, Bread, Second Generation is a relatively new tradition. Next week’s show – titled Second Generation: Ice Cream Tubs and Tupperware - is the second iteration of the sketch show, returning after a Covid enforced absence.

Directed by Vidya Divakaran and starring seven newcomers to sketch comedy, the show is aimed at creating a space for new BME talent to break into the Cambridge comedy scene. Not only are the writer/performers fresh to the scene, this is also Divakaran’s first time directing a full sketch show. However, far from seeming nervous, Divakaran says directing Second Generation: Ice Cream and Tupperware feels like coming full circle, as her first involvement in Cambridge theatre was as set designer for the first Second Generation run in 2019.

“The new talent in Second Generation lack preconceived ideas about what Cambridge comedy looks like”

When asked about the culture of working and theatre making that Bread encourages, both the director and writer/performer Diya Shah emphasised how much a community they feel they’ve created in the month of devising, writing and rehearsing the show over the last month – they both mention the ease of expression and communication that’s been enabled by the high comfort levels of the rehearsal space. Their shared life experiences helped the writer/performers bond quite quickly and Shah, who says she’s always wanted to write collaboratively with other BME comedians, is loving the experience.

The new talent in Second Generation: Ice Cream Tubs and Tupperware lack inhibitions and preconceived ideas about what Cambridge student comedy looks like – the writers/performers have been workshopping their writing with the directors and associate directors to hone their comedic instinct for what makes sketch funny and finding their own comedic voices.

“They seem to have found a new perspective on these challenging and often taboo topics”

Shah talks about how the process has allowed her to lean into tackling some substantial and difficult themes around race which are incredibly personal to the writer/performer, but taking those experiences and feelings and flipping the narrative on them. In doing so, they seem to have found a lightness and a new perspective on these challenging and often taboo topics – Divakaran has found having those discussions during the rehearsal process incredibly cathartic. From the perspective shift to the comedy to be found in the darker experiences, the writer/performers have been buoyed by how easily they have related to each other’s experiences.

Divakaran points out that of course there’s a multiplicity of experience within the BME umbrella – by coincidence all of the writer/performers who joined the team for Second Generation: Ice Cream Tubs and Tupperware are all of South Asian heritage, but the wider crew and production team is made up of a diverse group who have all brought their perspective to the various production roles.

Both Shah and Divakaran emphasise from their different perspectives how they’ve had to strike the balance between writing what they find funny and articulating their experiences honestly through comedy, versus the need to connect to a wider audience who don’t have the same experiences as them.

Divakaran admits they had to cut a few jokes because they decided as a group that the humour was slightly too niche for a wider audience. However, she praises the joy of simply having the space to write and enjoy those jokes with fellow comedians who share those cultural reference points, even if they won’t be performed.

Comparing this experience with working in a production where the majority of cast and crew are white, Divakara says ‘it’s just not the same vibe’ though she has enjoyed both, while Shah, a newcomer to the ADC stage, has only positive things to say about the community feel she has had in preparing for the performance.


Mountain View

Witness for the Prosecution Review

Second Generation engages with pressing issues of race and culture from a collection of interacting personal perspectives, channelling adverse experience and questions of identity and belonging into fresh and exciting comedy. From what Divakara and Shah had to say, if the audience get a fraction of the fun out of the show that they have had in preparing for it, it will be a hilarious night of sketch comedy.

Second Generation: Ice cream tubs and Tupperware is playing at 11pm from Wednesday 9th March - Saturday 12th March at the ADC Theatre.