About Us Contact Us Help




2nd South Asian American Theater Festival

Press Release

2nd South Asian American Theater Festival

Theater enthusiasts in New England came out in full force this past weekend to support the 2nd South Asian American Theater (SAATh) Festival at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Hosted by Off-Kendrik, a group that has been at the forefront of Bengali theater in Massachusetts since 2008, the festival celebrated the theater of the South Asian diaspora with over 500 people watching 9 plays in 6 languages by theater groups from across the US.

The SAATh Festival began its journey in 2022 with the goal of shining a spotlight on South Asian American theater in the US. The 2023 edition hosted plays in Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, and English – all studded with stellar performances, smart writing, innovative interpretations.

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui inaugurated the festival, and spoke of her own Pakistani roots and her commitment to making Cambridge a more inclusive, welcoming community. And with that, the floor was yielded to a relentless windmill of South Asian American creative talent. From solo acts to folk theater to street theater ensembles, it was a diverse array of themes and genres that kept the audiences glued over two days.

The theatrical presentations included Ghati Mommagu, by the local Kannada theater group NataLoka; Park Bench, an original work by Onnyo Theater group from Columbus, Ohio, that delved into the true meaning of love; Gandhi, a Gujarati play by New Jersey-based Shakuntala Arts, that used the folk theater form of Bhavai; Natyaranga’s sharp Hindi comedy Lucy; Koham, a gripping play by local Marathi theater group, Kalashri Boston, that sought to explore the very definition of one’s existence; and Shubho Drishti, a Bengali adaptation of Neil Simon’s A Visitor From Forest Hills by a Boston-based team of Shanto Ghosh and Sutapa Saha that provided an introspection into relationships, marriage and interpersonal conflict.

A notable feature of the 2nd SAATh Festival was the strong showing by second generation South Asian American artistes through two powerful solo acts – Deconstructing Shakuntala: A One Woman Experiment and MustaQueen. In Deconstructing Shakuntala, Anrinya Banerjee reimagined a poem by Michael Madhusudan Dutt through a feminist lens. MustaQueen, on the other hand, was raw, mischievous commentary on the global siege on reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. The play came from a synergistic combination of Pakistani-American playwright, Fatima Atta Maan, New York-based director of Parsi origin Zahra Budhwani, and Uma Paranjpe, an Indian American actor who is making waves on Broadway as Pi in the production Life of Pi.

The hosts, Off-Kendrik, wrapped up the 2nd SAATh Festival with a riveting street play based on celebrated playwright Badal Sircar’s Michhil (Procession). The play is perhaps the most iconic of Sircar’s plays, and has been translated and staged in various Indian languages. Off-Kendrik gave Michhil a contemporary flavor bringing in burning issues such as George Floyd’s murder, the shameful torture of women in Manipur, and other social injustices.

Sankha Bhowmick, Off-Kendrik’s founder and Artistic Director, is thrilled with the success of the 2nd SAATh Faestival. “We had full houses on both days! That wouldn’t have been possible without the unstinted support we received from local Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, and Hindi-speaking communities. And the participation of second generation South Asian American actors shows that SAATh is building a following across the diaspora. Our goal is to make SAATh bigger, better, and even more impactful next year,” he said.

(Photo Credits: Subhrajit Saha and Pooja Sharda. )

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help