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.
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.
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.
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.
So so so so happy to share that I’m coming back to Chicago with a new play at Victory Gardens, premiering June 2019, directed by Chay Yew himself! (!!!!!!!) And I get to share the season with some of the best plays and playwrights in America today. I can’t believe it.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org if the ticket price represents a financial hardship.