• Wednesday, October 7, 2020
  • Dhaba on Devon Avenue

    Full length: 2M, 3F

    World Premiere (Cancelled due to… our world right now?) at Victory Gardens Theater, April 2020.

    Dhaba Canteen has been a Devon Avenue institution since the 80s, with their delicious Sindhi food transporting you back to the halcyon days of undivided India. Now, the Chicago restaurant is on the verge of foreclosure. And the family that owns it is ready to go to war over its fate. It’s King Lear meets The Cherry Orchard in this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, legacy, and survival at all costs.

    Listen to a monologue, view the scenic design, and read an excerpt at 3Views Theater.

    Read director Chay Yew’s tribute to our canceled production: We Had to Close ‘Dhaba’, but Our Story is Not Ended

    Script Requests: Beth Blickers, bblickers@apa-agency.com

    The cast of the world premiere together at our last rehearsal.

  • Thursday, April 16, 2020
  • In the midst of life being shut down…

    Wanted to celebrate a major milestone for my career, as the future of our field looks nebulous for the next few years…

    Madhuri Shekar Named Recipient of 2020 Lanford Wilson Award

    The New Dramatists fellow will be honored this summer.

    NEW YORK CITY: The Dramatists Guild of America has announced that the recipient of the 2020 Lanford Wilson Award is Madhuri Shekar. The playwright will be honored at the Guild’s annual awards ceremony on Monday, July 27, at Joe’s Pub in New York City.

    The Lanford Wilson Award is named after the Pulitzer-winning, Tony-nominated playwright—and longtime Dramatists Guild Council member—who died in 2011. Established by a generous contribution from Wilson’s estate, and matched by a contribution from the Guild, the award is presented annually by the Dramatists Guild Council to a dramatist, based primarily on their work as an early-career playwright. Previous recipients are Francine Volpe, Mike Lew, Chisa Hutchinson, Lauren Gunderson, Christopher Chen, Martyna Majok, Isaac Gomez, R. Eric Thomas, Abe Koogler, and Charly Evon Simpson.

    Madhuri Shekar’s plays include In Love and Warcraft, A Nice Indian Boy, Queen, House of Joy, and Dhaba on Devon Avenue. Her audio play Evil Eye was named one of the top 10 Audible titles of 2019. She is a graduate of the Juilliard playwriting program and a fellow at New Dramatists.

    The awards ceremony will now be a virtual event, as most things are. So grateful to the Dramatists Guild for this boost, so happy that they enjoyed my plays and thought me worthy of this honor. I submitted Queen and Evil Eye for consideration, and there are a litany of amazing mentors and institutions behind both of those plays – Center Theatre Group, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Victory Gardens which gave Queen it’s final developmental push and world premiere. The amazing team at Audible Theatre for Evil Eye. Joanie Schultz and Chay Yew for Queen, Megan Sandberg-Zakian and Emilia LaPenta for Evil Eye.

    Our beloved play Dhaba on Devon Avenue, was shut down two weeks before its world premiere, a proactive and courageous step by Victory Gardens to protect the health of our team and our audiences. It was a major blow. But our director Chay Yew penned this incredibly moving missive in American Theatre Magazine, one that I will treasure forever.

    We Had to Close ‘Dhaba,’ but Our Story Is Not Ended

    The immigrants of Madhuri Shekar’s play, and my own forebears, have a message for us: We survived so you will survive.

    Chay writes…

    In the last weeks, Dhaba gave us the rare opportunity to honor our families and communities. Table work was deeply moving and personal as we all shared the tremendous sacrifices our immigrant families made to make this country their second home. Madhuri’s powerful play is a tribute to anyone who has braved oceans and deserts to reach these United States. I wouldn’t trade the time we spent in the rehearsal room for anything in the world. We’d love to have shared Dhaba with our South Asian community in Chicago, as it’s a valentine and testament to all of them. I know we will celebrate them another time and soon.

    Read the full essay here.

    My other two March productions were also shut down, but got brief rebirths virtually.

    House of Joy at San Diego Rep enjoyed a virtual run, as a recording of the invited dress rehearsal was made available to watch for a limited time. I got to experience the recording in the most joyful way possible – the cast and creative team of the CalShakes world premiere of House of Joy convened on Zoom, and we watched the stream together, chatting and sharing our enthusiasm the whole time.

    And the cast of Antigone, presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s at Sacred Fools got to show off their chops in a Zoom excerpt of the play, shared to the Instagram page Theatre Without Theatre. You can watch it here!

    It is a devastating time for everyone around the world. Unprecedented in our sorrow and loss. But the epicenters of New York and New Jersey, where I live, are hurting so terribly. If you are reading this, I hope you and yours are as safe and well as possible right now.

  • Friday, February 28, 2020
  • The Audie Awards + 3 Productions in March!

    March 2020 is shaping up to be very exciting, making me wish I could be in multiple places at once.

    First, EVIL EYE has been nominated for a 2020 Audie Award, in the category ‘Best Original Work’!

    The Award Ceremony will take place on March 2, so we’ll find out then how we do!

    HOUSE OF JOY is getting its second production at San Diego Rep, directed by Arpita Mukherjee and Sam Woodhouse, from March 5-29. Check out these incredible promo shots of the cast!

    ANTIGONE, PRESENTED BY THE GIRLS OF ST CATHERINE’S is going up at Sacred Fools in Los Angeles, directed by Reena Dutt. March 6- April 11!

    And finally, the big one – my next world premiere:

    DHABA ON DEVON AVENUE will run at Victory Gardens, Chicago from March 27 – April 27, directed by Chay Yew.

    Commissioned by Chay, this will be his last play directed as Artistic Director of Victory Gardens before he leaves at the end of the season. Really honored to be working on this with him.

    Oh, and some life news… 💗👶🏼💗

  • Saturday, December 14, 2019
  • EVIL EYE makes Audible best-of list!

    I’m so thrilled to share this. EVIL EYE is one of the TOP TEN Audible titles of 2019…

    and was selected as the best in category in ‘Mysteries and Thrillers’!

    Mysteries & Thrillers Winner: Evil Eye

    [N]othing hit harder than Evil Eye, Madhuri Shekar’s riveting play that turned everything we thought we knew about meddlesome mothers—and frankly, what an audio thriller can be—on its head. In less than two hours, it took us for a wild ride via long distance phone calls, a brilliant ensemble cast, and a refreshing Indian American narrative. Along the way, Shekar whispered deep truths about generational and cultural divides, female intuition, and a mother’s love. For me, that was the ultimate thrill.” —Kat, Audible Editor

    You can listen to the play here: audible.com/EvilEye

  • Tuesday, September 17, 2019
  • QUEEN wins at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards! || Starting at New Dramatists!

    Two very cool things happened in the same night, and I got to be at one of them!

    Last night, QUEEN won for Outstanding Original Full Length Script at the 2019 New York Innovative Theatre Awards!

    This was in recognition of the beautiful production earlier this year by the Astoria Performing Arts Center, directed by J. Mehr Kaur. So grateful to Mehr and her team, and to APAC directors Dev Bondarin and Jesse Marchese for giving this play its New York premiere (and my first New York production!). And especially thankful to our lead actor Mahima Saigal for accepting the award for me in a smashing sari…

    Mahima slaying the red carpet

    and giving a wonderful acceptance speech. 🐝 👸🏽

    And the reason I couldn’t be there was due to a very wonderful occasion happening the same evening… I got inducted into New Dramatists!


    More to come, but so very happy to be part of this epic institution and in the company of so many playwrights that I’ve only known through reputation and their work so far – and now I get to share a clubhouse with them. It’s wonderful.

    The class of 2026 receives plants and applause at the conclusion of the New Playwright Welcome on September 16, 2019. From left to right: Dipika Guha, Gracie Gardner, Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, Madhuri Shekar, Kevin Artigue and Will Arbery. (Missing from the photo is Ariel Stess).

    And best of all, my parents happened to be in town all the way from Chennai, and they got to be there and share this experience with me and Seamus.

  • Friday, August 23, 2019
  • HOUSE OF JOY: World Premiere at Cal Shakes

    HOUSE OF JOY is now running at Cal Shakes through September 8! So thrilled with what our beautiful team managed to pull off. The world premiere is the stunning swashbuckling glittering romance of my dreams.

    Directed by: Megan Sandberg-Zakian
    Starring: Emma Van Lare, Raji Ahsan, Nandita Shenoy, Sango Tajima, Rinabeth Apostol, Rotimi Agbabiaka and Lipica Shah
    Fight Director: Dave Maier
    Dramaturgy: Vidhu Singh
    Sets: Lawrence E Moten
    Lights: Wen Ling Liao
    Costumes: Oana Botez
    Original music and sound: Arshan Gailus
    Stage Manager: Leslie Radin
    Dialect and vocal coach: Cherie Corinne Rice
    Artistic Director: Eric Ting

  • Sunday, May 12, 2019
  • EVIL EYE on Audible

    It’s Mother’s Day, and EVIL EYE is an Audible best-seller!

    This play is a commission from the Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund, and my first attempt in the audio/radio play format. Inspired by my daily phone calls with my mother, and the darkest, weirdest parts of my brain, this play was one of the most psychologically agonizing things I’ve ever written, AND the most fun. At the same time.

    3000+ ratings and a 4.6 score on Audible! It debuted at #5 on the Audible best-seller list. Read the reviews if you need any convincing to check it out 🙂

    About This Audible Original

    Usha is convinced that the Evil Eye, a curse that brings continuous misfortune, was cast upon her daughter, Pallavi, in the womb. What else could have possibly left her driven, career-oriented daughter edging closer and closer to 30 without a prospective husband? Determined to set Pallavi on the right path, Usha arranges date after date with potential suitors—but after yet another setup fails, it seems her efforts are proving fruitless. But in an unexpected turn of events, Pallavi becomes her own matchmaker when she meets—and quickly falls for—Sandeep, a young Indian-American entrepreneur. And though she expects her mother will be elated with her finally finding a man, Pallavi is distraught and confused to find her mother growing increasingly suspicious of Sandeep’s motives…and his true identity.

    Told through a series of phone calls and voicemails, this Audible Original penned by award-winning rising star playwright Madhuri Shekar transitions seamlessly from a light-hearted family dramedy to an unexpectedly supernatural thriller. With an endearing cast of well-rounded characters, sharp, natural dialogue, and a shocking edge-of-your-seat climax, Evil Eye is a can’t-miss tale about cultural miscommunications, family secrets, and the lingering echoes of trauma.

    Evil Eye is an Audible Theater Emerging Playwrights Commission.

    Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

    Produced by Emilia LaPenta

    Audio Engineering and Design: Alex Trajano

    Cast: Rita Wolf, Annapurna Sriram, Bernie White, Nick Choksi, Harsh Nayyar

    Please note: This audio contains strong language, distressing situations, and descriptions of abuse and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Discretion is advised.

  • Friday, April 5, 2019
  • Coming up in the 2019/2020 theatre season…

    Thrilled to return to Victory Gardens in Chicago for their 2019/2020 season, with my brand new commission DHABA ON DEVON AVENUE, directed by Chay Yew.

    World Premiere • Dhaba Canteen has been a Devon Avenue institution since the 60s, with their delicious Sindhi food transporting you back to the halcyon days of undivided India. Now it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. And the family that has run it for generations is ready to go to war over its fate. Written by Madhuri Shekar, (Queen) and directed by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew, it’s King Lear meets The Cherry Orchard in this Chicago story of fathers and daughters, of legacy, and of survival at all costs.

    HOUSE OF JOY is getting ready for its world premiere at beautiful CalShakes in August 2019, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. The script has grown tremendously in just the past month, and a team full of astounding artists are on board to help realize this swashbuckling epic fantasy.

    The play: House of Joy is an action-adventure romance set in a harem at the beginning of the end of the Mughal Empire. Once upon a time and place, in something like 17th century Delhi, an imperial bodyguard risks her life to fight for what’s right, turning against everything she’s been raised to believe.

    ANTIGONE, PRESENTED BY THE GIRLS OF ST. CATHERINE’S will get its West Coast premiere at Sacred Fools in Los Angeles, one of my favorite theatre companies, and directed by the marvelous Reena Dutt. Watch for it in Spring of 2020.

    Other Productions:

    QUEEN will be getting its next production in November at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY, directed by Pironne Yousefzadeh.

    HOUSE OF JOY is scheduled for its second production at San Diego Rep in March 2020, co-directed by Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse & Arpita Mukherjee!

    And coming up next…

    ANTIGONE, PRESENTED BY THE GIRLS OF ST CATHERINES will have a reading on April 29, at WP Theatre. Co-produced by Movement Theatre and Hypokrit Theatre, and directed by the marvelous Taylor Reynolds. RSVP here.

    And a project 2 years in the making, something I couldn’t be more excited for…

    My audio play EVIL EYE will release on May 3 on the Audible Platform, free for all subscribers. A dynamite cast and creative team led by director Megan Sandberg-Zakian helped me make this a story I’m truly proud of. Sign up for your free trial or keep an eye out the first Friday of May for the play to drop!

  • Sunday, February 24, 2019
  • QUEEN @ APAC, New York

    New York Premiere; Jan 31-Feb 16.

    Directed by J. Mehr Kaur
    Cast: Mahima Saigal, Rachel Rhodes-Devey, Ezra Barnes and Kabir Chopra

    Creative Team:
    Set Designer: Susannah Hyde
    Costume Designer: Caitlin Cisek
    Lighting Designer: Shelby Loera
    Assistant Lighting Designer: Austin Boyle
    Sound Designer: Margaret Montagna
    Prop Designer: Rachel Langley
    Production Manager: W. Alan Waters
    Production Stage Manager: Elliott Karliner
    Assistant Stage Manager: Jack Asitimbay

    Photography by Michael R. Dekker