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Casting Announced for Rasaka Theatre Company's World Premiere of VANYA (OR, 'THAT'S LIFE!')

Rasaka Theatre Company announced casting for the World Premiere of VANYA (or, "That's Life!"), adapted from Chekhov by Lavina Jadhwani, directed by Kaiser Ahmed.

Anton Chekhov's UncleVanya continues to be one of the greatest and continually relevant of plays - concerned with family relationships, broken hearts, and the rampant disappointment of midlife crisis. In this hilarious and sharp reinvention, there is great providence in the shattering of a teacup, time moves backwards, and our bored, sad Chekhovian friends have a tendency to lapse into singing American Indie folk tunes. What could be more Russian? Or American?

Jadhwani - O'Neill Theater Center / National New Plays Network Fellow and former Rasaka Theatre Artistic Director - and Ahmed - Jackalope Theatre's Associate Artistic Director were integral to the success of Rasaka's 2014 and 2015 hit productions: A Widow of No Importance, Washer/Dryer and A Nice Indian Boy.

"After our well-received production of Multitudes, we are excited to present a fresh, multicultural take on Chekhov's classic family story. VANYA (or That's Life!") continues our tradition of telling stories that sharply and emotionally examine the myriad issues that tear families apart - and what keeps them together," said Kamal Hans, Rasaka Theatre's producing artistic director.



WHERE: The Edge Theater: 5451 N. Broadway Chicago IL 60640

WHEN: Opening: Saturday, January 7, 2017, 8 p.m. (reception after)

Previews: Thursday, Jan 5, 2017 at 8 p.m.; Friday, Jan 6, 2017 at 8 p.m.; Saturday Jan 7, 2017 at 4 p.m.

Runs: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinees at 4 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 3:30 p.m.; Closes: Friday, February 3, 2017

TICKETS: Regular performances: $30; Previews: $15; ($10 for industry members with ID); Groups of 8 or more: $25 each; Senior rate (with ID): $25; Students and Industry: $20 (with ID)


Cast: Rom Barkhordar* (Vanya), Raj Bond (Waffles), Allison Cain (Marina), Bill Chamberlain (Alexander), Richard Costes (Astrov), Puja Mohindra* (Sonya), Karissa Myers (Yelena) * Denotes member of Actors' Equity Association


Playwright: Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago-based director and adaptor. Her adaptations include VANYA (or "That's Life!"), The Sitayana (based on the Hindu epic poem The Ramayana), and Shakuntala: an East-Meets-West love story. As a writer, Lavina's work has been developed by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Theatre Company, Stage Left Theatre, and the Trellis Project. This is her first play to receive a full production.

As a director, Lavina's work has been seen at Silk Road Rising (where she has been an Artistic Associate since 2007), Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Teatro Vista, Oak Park Festival Theatre, the side project, and Rasaka (where she was the Artistic Director from 2007-2013). Awards/fellowships include Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Phil Killian Directing Fellowship, the inaugural National Directors Fellowship (O'Neill Theater Center/National New Play Network), the Drama League's Classical Directing Fellowship, an LMDA Residency Award, and Time Out Chicago's "Best Next Generation Stage Director." She is the founder and curator of the Diverse Directors Database and The Mildly Rehearsed Players, a student-run troupe at DePaul University that performs Shakespeare based on original practices. Lavina can also be found teaching and coaching (on a sliding-scale basis) at Green Shirt Studio. Graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA, Directing) and Carnegie Mellon University (BFA, Scenic Design; Masters, Arts Management).

Director: Kaiser Zaki Ahmed is thrilled to be returning to Rasaka Theatre after directing their 2015 production of Washer/Dryer by Nandita Shenoy. Kaiser was born in Bangladesh, raised in Michigan and has been working in Chicago Theater since 2004. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Theatre Directing, Kaiser went on to found Jackalope Theatre Company in 2008, serving as Artistic Director until 2012 and is currently Associate Artistic Director. Directing credits include The Raid, The Killing of Michael X, Long Way Go Down, Slaughter City, Last Exodus of American Men (Jackalope Theatre), The Late Henry Moss and House of Yes (Artistic Home Theatre). Kaiser is also an Artistic Associate at The Artistic Home Theatre and a 2015-16 Eugene O'Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist. Kaiser also believes acting makes him a better director; he can be seen on various stages, proudly represented by Gray Talent.

Rasaka is Chicago's only South Asian theatre ensemble. Our goal is to increase diversity among artists and audience by engaging and illuminating the South Asian American experience. We are particularly dedicated to providing a platform for the artistic expression of South Asian artists. We aim to broaden, strengthen and enrich the experience of the theatre audiences and enhance the local, regional, national and international reputation of Chicago theatre. "Rasa" means the essence or inspiration of a work of art, and adding "ka" behind a word makes it "of" that, as in "of the essence of art."

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