World Premiere at Victory Gardens, Chicago, April 2017. Directed by Joanie Schultz.
Recent and Upcoming productions: Seattle: August 2018. Directed by Agastya Kohli, Produced by Pratidhwani and ACT Cupertino: September 2018. Directed by Vinita Sud Belani, Produced by EnActe Theatre.
New York: February 2019. Details to be announced.
Sanam Shah, a mathematician, and Ariel Spiegel, a biologist, are PhD candidates and best friends working together to discover the cause of colony collapse disorder – the urgent, ecological crisis where bees are disappearing around the world in alarming numbers. Just as they are about to publish a career-defining new paper on the subject, calling for a ban on commercial pesticides, Sanam realizes that the numbers don’t add up to support their conclusion. Should she look the other way for the sake of environmental action, or should she stand by her scientific principles, even if it means ceding ground to an ecological disaster, jeopardizing her career, and losing her best friend?
June 2013/14 Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop, Los Angeles
August 2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Black Swan Lab, Ashland
July 2015 Victory Gardens Ignition Festival, Chicago
October 2015 Blank Theatre Living Room Series, Los Angeles
March 2017 Ma-Yi Labfest, New York
Dates: August 3-19, 2018 Runtime: about 1 hour and 40 minutes and will be presented without an intermission Location: Bullitt Cabaret
PhD candidates Sanam and Ariel have spent the better part of the last decade exhaustively researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. Just as these close friends are about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon an error, which could jeopardize their reputations, careers, and friendship. How far will you go to defend your ethics and standards of integrity, and at what cost? Queen by Madhuri Shekar is a play about pursuit of truth, relationships, and bees.
“In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. When you know the truth, the truth makes you a soldier.” – Mahatma Gandhi
QUEEN made The Kilroy’s List of most recommended plays by women and trans writers of color this year! Check out the complete list and add them all to your summer reading list 📚 🎭 ☀️ ❤️ thekilroys.org/list-2017
This year, the Kilroys opted to focus specifically on works by female or trans writers of color. The move was spurred in part by the ongoing study The Count, which in 2015 found that over a three-year period, 22% of productions at America’s nonprofit theaters were written by women — and of those, less than 4% were penned by writers of color.
“RECOMMENDED Brainy & Entertaining. This timely story about the interplay of science, conscience and the heart offers a most winning test case.” -Chicago Sun-Times
“Awesome! Two powerhouse women fighting convention. QUEEN lifts up women in a way that’s intellectual and passionate.” -PerformInk
“Intriguing, funny, and highly relevant. A cerebral version of the sexual cat-and-mouse games.” -TheaterJones
“Engrossing. An excellent quartet of players… who give performances of conviction and realism. QUEEN should go forth into the regional theatre world as a popular selection.”/ -ChicagolandTheaterReviews.com
Mohanty says she’s received more rejections in the last two years of acting than she has, cumulatively, in the rest of her entire life. Throughout “Queen,” Sanam faces similar uncertainty. There’s her imperfect model, friendship and potential romance, all progressing and regressing on their own time. But she finds the humor in all its unpredictability.
“I saw Priya’s audition tapes and I was like, oh my God, she’s so funny,” says playwright Shekar. “And immediately I was like yes, yes, yes, this character’s very funny. An utterly guileless but very confident woman. There’s something about that combination that’s endearing.”
While the fictional camaraderie on stage is at risk, real life bonds have formed off stage. [Director Joanie] Schultz describes her experience with Madhuri as “so much fun because we’ve been able to share stories about the friendships we’ve had. Then there’s our fantastic female actors…[and] Chelsea Warren (scenic design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), and Janice Pytel (costume design)…Their perspective has been vital to how we’ve conceived the onstage life of this play…Madhuri does a beautiful job fleshing out the unique friendship between women who work together.”
QUEEN runs at Victory Gardens till May 14!
Friday, March 17, 2017
My play QUEEN will have its world premiere at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago from April 14 – May 14. I’m so excited for this production. Our cast and creative team are *brilliant*. Come see it if you can!
Long overdue updates, because my life turned inside out and sideways these past two months.
It’s official – my play QUEEN will get its world premiere at Victory Gardens in March-April 2017, directed by the brilliant Joanie Schultz! The play has been developed at the Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop, the API 2×2 lab at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series and currently – as I type this! – at the Hedgebrook writer’s retreat in Washington.
I moved to New York at the beginning of April with my wonderful boyfriend and it’s been a time of serious change.
And with amazing timing, I’ve been ridiculously fortunate enough to be part of the Hedgebrook Playwrights Festival at Whidbey Island. Truly, I can’t think too much about where I am right now without getting emotional. 2 weeks of being housed and fed in astonishingly beautiful conditions with incredible food, and incredible company, with my only responsibilities towards my writing and my own well being. I was desperately in need of this forced break from real life, from the internet (more or less) – this immersion back into my plays. This nurture, care and agency. Hedgebrook will stay with me forever.
SEATTLE: Readings from works in progress by the 2016 Hedgebrook Playwrights: Kristiana Rae Colón, Virginia Grise, Dawn Renee Jones, Regina Taylor – and me!
When: Monday, May 16 at 7:00 PM Where: Seattle Repertory Theatre | 155 Mercer St, Seattle, WA Tickets: $15 Please email email@example.com if the ticket price represents a financial hardship.
Monday, October 5, 2015
Tonight at 8pm at @theblanktheatre a staged reading of my new play QUEEN. Smart scientists try to save the bees without destroying their ethics or their friendship. I’m not great at summaries. But I’m excited to see the play up on its feet. 🐝🐝🐝🐝