Don't put your child on stage, Mrs Patel

"You are creating a story through gesture: where your hand goes, there goes your eye and that of your audience." Actor and director Ravinder Gill was explaining the basics to 20 aspiring thespians at the Theatre in the Mill, Bradford.

Despite its large Asian community, West Yorkshire has never had an Asian theatre school before. The week-long event was dreamed up by Kate Chapman, director of the Mill, and Kully Thiarai, artistic director of Leeds-based Red Ladder Theatre. They wanted to increase awareness of theatre and foster local talent. Most Asian actors, directors and writers are in London.

They hope not only that it will become an annual event but that it could lead to the creation of a theatre company.

It is certainly needed. The students are very aware of the stereotypical roles imposed on Asian actors. "You run a shop," said one.

Pankaj would like to become an actor but intends to do a business degree. "You need a steady job as well. If I did become an actor I'd have to go to India. There are no opportunities here."

Imran, a youth worker, said parents were not keen on children taking up acting, especially after watching TV series like The Buddha of Suburbia. The rest agreed. "They see it as a job, not a career."

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