Rasaka Theatre Company and Premiere Theatre & Performance Present culture/clash: three plays about the South Asian Diaspora


Amrita Dhaliwal (L) and Jordan Kohl (R) in "Night Shift,"
one of the three plays in “culture/clash.” Photo courtesy of Tom
McGrath, TCMcG Photography.

WHAT: Rasaka Theatre Company presents culture/clash: three plays about the South Asian Diaspora, a trio of world premieres penned by South Asian playwrights. The production will include:

  • Instant Recall by Anita Chandwaney:  Madhu can't seem to recall why she asked Nigel to meet her at the café—or can she? 
  • Night Shift by Angeli Primlani:  A young girl and an older woman face danger and each other in the middle of the night in a motel lobby on a quiet North Carolina highway. 
  • Midnite's Vultures by Pushkar Sharma:  Two Indian-American poets in their twenties confront the paradoxes of their identity when asked what it means to be an Indian in America.

This unique evening of plays is the result of a weekend playwriting workshop in August of 2008 for South Asian theatre artists, the brainchild of Rasaka’s founding Executive Director Anita Chandwaney, in response to the challenge of finding plays written by or about South Asians or South Asian Americans. Ms. Chandwaney recalled an inspiring workshop she had participated in at Chicago Dramatists, and enlisted the same teacher, playwright Will Dunne, to lead the Rasaka weekend.

Continuing the development of the new works created that weekend, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs offered space for workshops and staged readings, which directly led to the selection of the three plays in “culture/clash”, based on feedback from theatre professionals.

"The title culture/clash was chosen because each of the three plays features South Asian protagonists interacting with people from different backgrounds (British, Southern and American Indian),” reports director Lavina Jadhwani. “From these interactions, the characters learn something about another culture while simultaneously re-examining their own heritage.” Ms. Jadhwani, a first generation American herself, has found a passion in directing the stories of South and East Asians, including Yoni Ki Baat (Rasaka Theatre Company/Premiere Theatre & Performance), Ching Chong Chinaman (Silk Road Theatre Project), Gandhi Marg (Chicago Dramatists), Desi Women and the Diaspora (Remy Bumppo/Rasaka).

This production is sponsored by the Kiran Bavikatte Memorial Foundation.

WHERE: Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60613
Red Line Sheridan stop; 36-Broadway and 80-Irving Park buses
$6 honor parking at Greeley School, 832 W. Sheridan, weekends after 5 p.m.

WHEN: Previews August 13 & 14, 8 P.M.
Opens Saturday, August 15, 8 P.M. (reception following)
Runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 P.M., and Sundays at 3 P.M 4 P.M..
Closes September 6, 2009
Performance Time: Approx. 75 minutes.

TICKETS: Publish: 312-777-1070 www.strawdog.org
$20 for regular tickets
$12 for previews August 13 & 14
$12 Student/Senior/Industry (Thurs & Sun only)
HYPERLINK http://www.strawdog.org with credit cards –or- cash/check/credit card at the door.

WRITERS: Rasaka ensemble members Anita Chandwaney (Gandhi Marg, finalist: Chicago Dramatists’ Many Voices Project) and Angeli Primlani (international journalist, incl. NPR’s All Things Considered) with Pushkar Sharma.

STAFF: Rasaka ensemble members Lavina Jadhwani (Director) and Angeli Primlani
(Costumes/Properties Design), with guest artists Matthew Buettner (Scenic Design), Christine Ferriter (Lighting Design), Vincent P. Mahler (Assistant Director) and Kathy Mountz (Stage Manager).

CAST: Nadia Anwar (White Airplane, Polarity Ensemble), Anand Bhatia, Amrita Dhaliwal (performances of Indian dance, Library of Congress), Jordan Kohl (Quills, The Shadowmen), Vincent P. Mahler (Merchant on Venice, Silk Road Theatre Project) and Amira Sabbagh (A Passage to India, Vitalist Theatre).

RASAKA’S MISSION: Rasaka Theatre Company, the Midwest’s first South Asian-American ensemble, is dedicated to increasing diversity among artists and audiences by engaging and illuminating the South Asian American experience. Rasaka is particularly dedicated to providing a platform for the artistic expression of South Asian artists, encompassing the production of theatrical projects – newly created, adapted and already established. Rasaka aims to broaden, strengthen and enrich the experience of the theatre going audience thereby enhancing the local, regional, national and international reputation of Chicago theatre.

PREMIERE THEATRE & PERFORMANCE’S MISSION: The mission of Premiere Theatre & Performance (PTAP) is to present new plays and original performance by directors of vision and originality. PTAP creates a home for stage directors, in an environment that encourages development, creativity and artistic integrity.

INFO: Rasaka Theatre Company, 312-777-1070; www.rasakatheatre.org
Premiere Theatre & Performance, 773-250-7055, www.ptapchicago.org

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