South Asian Theatre with Universal Appeal

This Women's History Month
we dive into our archives
and look back at some amazing women
whose stories have graced our stage

Noor Inayat Khan

Soundwaves, The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan traced the incredible life of Noor, a young Muslim Woman, a descendent of Tipu Sultan, a musician, a writer of children’s stories and an ardent follower of Buddhism and of Mahatma Gandhi. Her father was a Sufi musician from India and her mother an American from New Mexico. Noor was born in Moscow but grew up in London and Paris. Noor was a deeply spiritual person, she refused to hurt anyone or even tell a lie, yet at the young age of 26, she found herself in the middle of a war that was not hers by nationality or by ideology. Even so, Noor signed up and became the first female radio spy of the Allied Command embedded in the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Paris in the second World War. She worked brilliantly and tirelessly behind enemy lines but was eventually betrayed and captured by the Germans, tortured and then shot to death in Dachau on September 13th, 1944.

Noor is credited with having saved countless Jewish lives and helping shorten the war by several months. Britain posthumously awarded her the George Cross, and unveiled a bronze bust of Noor in London, the first memorial in Britain to either a Muslim or an Asian woman. France awarded her the Croix de Guerre and dedicated a monument to her in the front yard of her family’s former house near Paris.

Down memory lane with the Director

A page from the Playbill  where Vinita Sud Bellani tells us about the coincidence that brought Soundwaves to her inbox and her deep personal connection with Noor and her story.

Noor Inayat Khan
Hear Vinita’s interview with KALW where she talks about the importance of telling stories like Noor’s and what bringing Soundwaves: The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan to EnActe meant to her.

A perspective from the audience

The first EnActe Play I witnessed was Soundwaves, The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan in the spring of 2017 at the Visual Performing Arts Center – De Anza College. I had never heard of Noor Inayat Khan, but I was intrigued, not least because she shared the same name as my grandmother, Noor-un-Nisa, another indomitable woman who was lost to the world far too early. The play and the story of Noor blew me away. I was shocked that the world wasn’t singing the praises of this intrepid young woman and that her story was missing from the lore of our times. 

This Women’s History Month, I am reminded of Noor, inspired by the power of her example, by her courage and her willingness to embrace a cause even if it felt at odds with her pacifist ideology and then once in, to do so wholeheartedly not giving up to the end. This inspiring story of a peace loving, intrepid young woman offers a role model that goes beyond the usual stereotypes of heroism and is one of the many such stories of inspiring women that EnActe has brought to the fore.  

Raashina Humayun, 3/11/2021