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THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti Sachdeva

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti Sachdeva

For almost a year, four up-and-coming playwrights have been coming to Nashville every month to develop new projects from the initial germination of an idea into new plays that promise to challenge audiences and to provoke thought - as part of Nashville Repertory Theatre's innovative Ingram New Works Projects.

Lindsay Joelle, Dean Poynor, Riti Sachdeva, and R. Eric Thomas, were chosen for the Ingram New Works Project based on their talent, to be certain, but perhaps most compellingly by their creativity and the play they were hoping would emerge from that very earliest idea. Once a month since September, they have visited the creative team at Nashville Rep, which has become their home away from home, to garner the kind of support they needed - from guidance, actors and play workshops, to the conviviality of meals and downtown adventures shared.

Their shared adventures culminate, beginning Wednesday, May 8, with the Ingram New Works Festival (continuing through May 18 at Nashville Children's Theatre), when premiere staged readings of their new plays will be presented for audiences over the course of the two-week Festival.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti Sachdeva
Sarah Ruhl

The final weekend of the festival will include the first public look at a brand new play by Sarah Ruhl, this year's Ingram New Works Fellow. Ruhl, whose plays - from Dead Man's Cell Phone and Eurydice to In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) - have been produced by local theater companies to the acclaim of audiences and critics, alike, is the latest in a long line of notable and award-winning American Playwrights who have served in the capacity of Ingram New Works fellow to develop new plays of their own.

Award-winning Nashville playwright Nate Eppler leads the Ingram New Works Project for Nashville Repertory Theatre. His play This Red Planet will be produced by Nashville Rep as part of its 2019-20 season.

Each of the staged play readings will be followed by a talk-back with the playwright, plus a reception where audiences will get to mingle with fellow arts enthusiasts and professionals after the show.

The Ingram New Works Project has put Nashville on the map with the National Theatre community for the quality of new plays that emerge from the Nashville Project, and that have gone on to successful, full productions and have earned critical acclaim.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaToday, we begin a series of feature stories, focusing on the four emerging playwrights and their new works which will premiere over the next ten days at the Ingram New Works Festival. First up is Riti Sachdeva, whose play Welcome to the Taj Palace (motel) will have its premiere public reading in Nashville.

Welcome to the Taj Palace (motel) by Riti Sachdeva

About the play Rajiv and Sita talk in the Taj Palace Motel on the edge of a highway on the edge of a city. He works the front desk and she turns tricks out of a motel room upstairs. Bhagath Singh Tind is in the lobby - he tried to apply for U.S. citizenship in the 1920s, claiming that as a high caste Hindu he is a white man and therefore eligible for citizenship. He's still waiting. A dreamy exploration of Model Minority Myths, the edges of the American Dream, and a Bollywood Classic.

Why did you decide you wanted to become a playwright? Originally to write interesting, challenging roles for myself and women of color. I eventually fell in love with the craft; that is, I experience such intimacy in the attention, care, and rigor that the craft requires of me.

Where do you find inspiration? The feeling of dis-ease. That which can't be seen. Land-Water-Sky. Scavengers. Im/Possibility.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaWhat are some of the benefits of being part of the Ingram New Works program? The spirit and action of generosity. Nate's dramaturgy is clear and actionable. The time and mental energy he's invested into helping develop my play makes me think, "This dude is really on my side." Amos' smile, warmth, bow ties, red hair, and genuine hospitality. True hugs from the Nashville Rep crew. The camaraderie with the cohort over food.

Why should people come see your show during the festival? Welcome to the Taj Palace (motel) is the second in my Model Minority Myths series. I'm excavating and disrupting the idea of the model minority and the commodity of identity. Check it out if sleazy motels and visualization exercises intrigue you.

What's next for you?

Leaving the best-day-job-ever at South Asian Youth Action, where I've worked as a sexuality educator for five years. Going wherever Im/Possibility leads

About Riti Sachdeva As a theatre maker and cultural worker, Riti Sachdeva has been creating art in some shape, pattern, or rhythm for twenty five years. Incorporating text, installation, and dance into her writing and performance, she straddles the practices and conventions of traditional U.S. theater, performance art, and international perspectives and approaches to theater. Riti has been a playwriting fellow with The Public Theater's EWG, WP Theater Lab, and the Dramatists Guild. Her plays have been developed by The Civilians, PlayWrights Center, National New Play Network, U of Hawai'i, Working Theater, Centerstage Baltimore, and Lincoln Center Director's Lab. She is recipient of the Kennedy Center's Quest for Peace award for her play Parts of Parts & Stitches and a TCG travel grant to begin adapting her play Suicide Seed to the kathakali dance theatre form. Her play The Rug Dealer made the 2016 Kilroys List and was a finalist for the BAPF. Acting highlights include work with National Hispanic Cultural Center, PopUp Theatrics, Honest Accomplice, HBO, Disney, lots of cool indie films, an Outstanding One Act award from Planet Connections Festival for her solo show Scene/Unseen. Riti recently workshopped her new solo show, BEHIND EVERY FAVORITE SONG IS AN UNTOLD WOMAN, in NYC and Belize.

About the Ingram New Works Festival

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaTHE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY
By Dean Poynor
May 8 & 14

A father tries to teach his son about life and faith as they ride the New York City Subway together over many years - but as the son grows up, they are forced to reckon with the values they once took for granted. Ride along with them and experience their timeless journey to pass on the good and jettison the bad for the next generation.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaCRYING ON TELEVISION
By R. Eric Thomas
May 9 & 17

Four strangers; one apartment building; unlimited channels. On the fourth floor, a former reality show contestant tries to start over; on the eighth floor a Miranda Hobbes type waits for transformation; in the lobby an amateur detective solves a mystery. And then there's Mackenzie, who says she's just here to watch.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaWELCOME TO THE TAJ PALACE (motel)
By Riti Sachdeva
May 10 & 15

On the edge of a highway on the edge of a city, Rajiv runs the Taj Palace (motel). Sita's got business there. Nina's wants to shut it down. Bhagath Singh Thind's been waiting there for decades. And Jon Wane just might have the key.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaTHE MESSENGERS
By Lindsay Joelle
May 11 & 16

A soldier and a translator blast off on a dangerous mission. A messenger and a refugee strike a deal on an alien planet. A mysterious plague and a love letter gone rogue. A dark comedy about the messages we carry in our bones.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Riti SachdevaBecky Nurse of Salem
By Sarah Ruhl
May 18

The great-great-great granddaughter of Rebecca Nurse, a slightly deaf witch hanged in 1692 on Gallow's Hill - which is now a Dunkin' Donuts - struggles with her legacy in this remarkable new play by 2019 Ingram New Works Fellow Sarah Ruhl.

For further details and showtimes for the 2019 Ingram New Works Festival, go to

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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis