PUBLIC OBSCENITIES Extends for a Second and Final Time at Soho Rep

Performances now run through Sunday, April 16, at Soho Rep.

By: Mar. 22, 2023
PUBLIC OBSCENITIES Extends for a Second and Final Time at Soho Rep
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Soho Rep and the NAATCO National Partnership Project have announced a one-week final extension of the world premiere production of Public Obscenities, a bilingual play performed in Bangla and English from writer-director Shayok Misha Chowdhury, co-commissioned and co-produced by the two organizations. Performances now run through Sunday, April 16, at Soho Rep.

Public Obscenities follows Choton, a Bengali American PhD student, and Raheem, his Black American cinematographer boyfriend, on an extended visit to Choton's family home in Kolkata. They have come to India to film interviews with locals they meet through queer hookup apps, as part of Choton's research. Choton relishes being the translator, toggling nimbly between Bangla and English, Grindr and acadamese. But when Raheem discovers a roll of undeveloped film in Choton's grandfather's old camera, unspoken secrets surface, leaving Choton at the limits of language. In this examination of queer intimacy and longing through an inter-cultural lens, film and photography crack open questions about how we remember and document our lives-across generations and even through death.

Public Obscenities features Tashnuva Anan (Shou), Abrar Haque (Choton), Golam Sarwar Harun (Jitesh), Gargi Mukherjee (Pishimoni), NaFis (Sebanti), Jakeem Dante Powell (Raheem), Debashis Roy Chowdhury (Pishe). Six of the cast members are Bengali actors from across the U.S. who were identified via a nationwide casting search led by Stephanie Yankwitt, CSA (TBD Casting Co.) and Kim Montelibano Heil. While they are all making their Off-Broadway debuts, many are highly accomplished artists with decades of experience in theater, film, and television. Tashnuva Anan broke barriers as the first transgender news anchor in Bangladesh, Golam Sarwar Harun is the artistic director of Dhaka Drama, a theater company in Queens that produces Bengali theater, Gargi Mukherjee has written and directed numerous plays and can regularly be seen performing in the South Asian Theatre Festival, and Debashis Roy Chowdhury trained with the renowned Badal Sarkar's theater company in his native Kolkata. Chowdhury says, "Bengalis have such a rich history of theater making, and Bangla is one of the most spoken languages in New York City, yet I've never seen the Bengali theater tradition engaged professionally on an Off-Broadway stage."

The Public Obscenities creative team includes Shayok Misha Chowdhury (Writer-Director), dots (Scenic Designer), Enver Chakartash (Costume Designer), Barbara Samuels (Lighting Designer), Tei Blow (Sound Designer), Johnny Moreno (Projection and Video Designer), Sarah Lunnie (Dramaturg), Sukanya Chakrabarti (Cultural Dramaturg), Stephanie Yankwitt, CSA (TBD Casting Co.) and Kim Montelibano Heil (Casting Directors) Patricia Marjorie (Props Designer), and Alyssa K. Howard (Stage Manager).

Scenic design collective dots has transformed Soho Rep's intimate theater at 46 Walker Street into a detailed, lived-in Kolkata flat with whirring ceiling fans, flickering tube lights, cracked plaster walls, and black and white portraits covered in dust. Johnny Moreno's video and projections activate the language of film and photography while also offering English speakers access to conversation in Bangla.

Though Chowdhury had wanted to write a bilingual play for his "entire adult life," he had stopped himself, fearing such a play would be impossible to produce. When Chowdhury became an inaugural member of Soho Rep's Project Number One-the program that gives theater-makers staff positions, a full salary, and benefits to experiment and collaborate on new work-he felt it was his opportunity to explore this radical idea.

Public Obscenities is also the first play co-commissioned by Soho Rep and The National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) through the NAATCO National Partnership Project (NNPP), which the organization founded with a group of anchor partners including Soho Rep. The initiative seeks to ingrain the inclusion of Asian American theater artists, technicians, administrators, and community members in the American theater.

Performance Schedule and Ticketing

The world premiere production of Public Obscenities began February 15, opened on February 28, and now runs through April 16 at Soho Rep, located at 46 Walker Street in Manhattan.

Tickets-$35 through March 18, and $45 for performances March 21 - April 9, and $70 for performances April 11-16-can be purchased by visiting or calling 646-586-8982. $20 rush tickets are available at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain for each performance.

About Shayok Misha Chowdhury

Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a many-tentacled writer and director based in Brooklyn. A Mark O'Donnell Prize, Princess Grace Awardee, and winner, with Laura Grill Jaye, of the 2022 Relentless Award, Misha began writing Public Obscenities as an inaugural Project Number One Artist at Soho Rep. As a Resident Artist at HERE Arts Center, he is currently developing Rheology, a concert-memoir-physics-symposium, for which he was awarded an inaugural Sundance Asian American Fellowship. Misha was awarded a 2021 Jonathan Larson Grant for his body of work writing musicals in collaboration with composer Laura Grill Jaye. Other recent collaborations: SPEECH (Philly Fringe) with Lightning Rod Special; Brother, Brother (New York Theatre Workshop) with Aleshea Harris; MukhAgni (Under the Radar @ The Public) with Kameron Neal, Your Healing Is Killing Me (PlayMakers Rep) with Virginia Grise. Misha was a soloist and collaborator on the Grammy-winning album Calling All Dawns. He is also the creator of VICHITRA, a series of sound-driven, cinematic experiments, including Englandbashi (Ann Arbor Film Festival), The Other Other (Ars Nova), An Anthology of Queer Dreams (Audio Unbound Award finalist), and In Order to Become (The Bushwick Starr), which he is developing into a live Carnatic opera. A NYSCA/NYFA, Fulbright, Hermitage, and Kundiman fellow, Misha's poetry has been published in The Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, Hayden's Ferry Review, Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Misha is also an alumnus of New York Theatre Workshop's 2050 Fellowship, The Public Theater's Devised Theater Working Group, Ars Nova's Makers Lab, New York Stage and Film Nexus, the Sundance Art of Practice Fellowship, BRIClab, Drama League's Next Stage Residency, and Soho Rep's Writer Director Lab. He received his MFA from Columbia, under the mentorship of Anne Bogart, and his Bachelors from Stanford, under the mentorship of Maestra Cherríe Moraga.

About the Cast

Tashnuva Anan (Shou) (she/her) is a young transgender human rights activist and theater worker from Bangladesh. She became the first transgender news anchor in Bangladesh, shattering the glass barrier of gender discrimination and paving the way for other transgender individuals to pursue other mainstream occupations. She is the only Bangladeshi to hold a position on the ILGA World board. As a public health graduate, Tashnuva has spent many years advocating for the SRHR of SOGIESC people in South Asia, with the advancement of SOGIESC people's human rights constituting the core of her advocacy work. During COVID-19 pandemic, she worked as a frontline volunteer relief worker in Gift for Good and various organizations. She has significant experience from the leading Training organizations in Bangladesh and Nepal, including BYLC, Advocacy Policy Influencing (API), SANGAT International Training from Nepal. Tashnuva is the first transgender model from Bangladesh who walked in NY fashion week, in 2022. She started her theater in 2006. Tashnuva Anan won the magazine Ananya's inaugural award, in 1993, for her activism. Tashnuva believes in a gender-equal society free from discrimination, and she aspires to establish it through her work, performance, creativity, and dialogue.

Abrar Haque (Choton) (he/him) makes his Soho Rep and New York debut in Public Obscenities. Recent credits include Fouad in Refugee Rhapsody (Artists Repertory Theater) and Florizel in A Winter's Tale (Portland Shakes). He is originally from Portland, Oregon.

Golam Sarwar Harun (Jitesh) (he/him) has garnered acclaim in the South Asian theater scene in the United States as a singer, actor, playwright, and a director. He also directs films and television commercials. He has performed in works ranging from The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht to Marat-Sade by Peter Weiss, plus Sudraka's Mrichchakatikam, among others. He is the artistic director of Dhaka Drama, a theater group founded in Queens, New York, and has directed plays for the New Jersey-based theater group Epic Actor's Workshop. Notable directing credits include Nirastra (Unarmed), Michhe Kolahol (Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing) and Dhaboman (The Run). His works have featured in multiple South Asian theater Festivals over the years. Apart from his work in theater, Harun has acted in multiple films from Bangladesh, including Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist in the U.S. Harun started his theater career while attending high school in his birth country Bangladesh, where he has been part of multiple major theater companies. In the U.S., he has received theater grants from QCA for his play Stories of Jackson Heights, which premiered at the Queens Theatre. Harun is Chief Creative Officer of Sutra Advertising. He lives in Queens.

Gargi Mukherjee (Pishimoni) (she/her), a resident of Montclair, New Jersey, is well known in theater communities in New York and New Jersey, and has also played leading roles in films including The Namesake and Karma Calling. Mukherjee recently performed a monologue as part of a new series of all-female monologues, Women on Fire: Stories from the Frontlines at Royal Family Productions in New York. She is often seen at the South Asian Theater Festival. Mukherjee's play Our Voices was featured in the Commonground Theatre Festival and South Asian Theatre Festival in New Jersey and Ohio. Mukherjee co-wrote and co-directed Nirastra (Unarmed); conceptualized, translated, and played the lead in Stories of Jackson Heights; and co-wrote I Shakuntala, at Queens Theatre in the Park, Jamaica Performing Arts Center. Mukherjee also translated and adapted one of Rabindranath Tagore's short stories and performed it as a monologue, Mrinal's Letter, at the United Solo International Theatre Festival in New York. She performed the one-woman show The Breast Chronicle at the Crossroads Theatre/New York International Fringe Theatre Festival. She is also an SVP, Creative Director at Havas Gemini, a healthcare communications/advertising company in New York.

NaFis (Sebanti) (he/she/they) is a Bangladeshi-born and raised actor and singer based in NYC. Select theater: Tinderella: The Modern Musical (Dylan), Rent (Angel), Polar Express (KIA), The Fold (Khalil), The 25th Annual...Spelling Bee (Barfeé). Film: Who Killed Taniya (Nadiya).

Jakeem Dante Powell (Raheem) (he/him/his) will be seen in George C. Wolfe's upcoming Netflix feature Rustin, produced by Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen and The Obamas' Higher Ground Production Company. He was recently seen as Gary in Slave Play on Broadway and in its Los Angeles premiere at Center Theatre Group. Additionally, he starred in the streaming play This American Wife alongside Pulitzer Prize finalists Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Debashis Roy Chowdhury (Pishe) (he/him) has portrayed complex characters in English and Bengali. During college, Debashis was inspired and initiated into theater by Badal Sarkar's theater group in Kolkata. In the U.S., he has acted in English and Bengali plays staged in Boston by multiple theater groups, notably Off-Kendrik and SETU. Notable roles include Master-chef Byakaron Singh in Boro Holo J, an original play (Off-Kendrik, Boston); Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Vatia in Spartacus, written by Badal Sarkar (Kolkata), Kaka-saheb (uncle) in Vijay Tendulkar's Kamala (SETU, Boston); and O'Brien in a Bengali adaptation of 1984 (Kolkata). He has directed plays in English and Bengali including Power to the People and Pakhir Paona. Debashis is a vocalist trained in North Indian classical music tradition. He resides in the Bay area.

About the Creative Team

dots is a design collective based in New York City specializing in designing environments for narratives, performances, and experiences. Hailing from Colombia, South Africa, and Japan, dots are are Santiago Orjuela-Laverde, Andrew Moerdyk, and Kimie Nishikawa. They offer expertise in multi-disciplinary practices ranging from architecture to theater and performance design, graphic design, and film. Recent Credits: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (BAM), Rinaldo (Minnesota Opera), Kate Berlant is KATE (Connelly Theater), You Will Get Sick (Roundabout Theater Company), production design for COINBASE: "International Transfers."

Enver Chakartash (costume designer) (they/them). Broadway: Is This a Room. Off-Broadway: Catch as Catch Can (Playwrights Horizons), English (Atlantic Theater Company), Bodies They Ritual (Clubbed Thumb), POWER (BAM), Which Way to the Stage (MCC), Wolf Play (Soho Rep), CITIZEN (BAM), Straight White Men (The Public). Regional: Vietgone (Guthrie Theater), Romeo & Juliet (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Straight White Men (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). With Tina Satter/Half Straddle: Ghost RIngs, Ancient Lives, House of Dance, Seagull (Thinking of You). With The Wooster Group: A Pink Chair, The Town Hall Affair, The B-Side, Early Shaker Spirituals, Early Plays. With Elevator Repair Service: Ulysses.

Barbara Samuels (lighting designer) (she/her) is a queer lighting designer, organizer, and producer residing on unceded Wappinger and Munsee Lenape land. Barbara creates design-forward live events that prioritize generosity, equity, and representation. Working nationally and internationally, Barbara collaboratively constructs intimate and explosive lighting environments for new plays, opera and dance. Barbara's designs have been seen regionally at Bard Summerscape, Long Wharf , The Alley, A.C.T., Shakespeare Theater Company, Playmakers Rep, Trinity Rep, Pig Iron Theatre, and Kansas City Rep. New York credits include designs at Soho Rep, Ars Nova, Lincoln Center Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, WP Theater, The Bushwick Starr, New Georges, and Clubbed Thumb. Barbara holds a B.A. from Fordham University and an M.F.A in Lighting Design from NYU. Proud member of USA Local 829. New Georges Affiliated Artist.

Tei Blow (sound designer) (he/him) is a media designer and performer born in Japan and based in New York City. His work has been featured at The Whitney Museum, Dance Theater Workshop, PS122, Lincoln Center, The Kitchen, BAM, and The Public Theater. He is the recipient of a 2015 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Sound Design for David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group's I Understand Everything Better. He is one half of Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, whose ongoing multipart series of ritual performances The Art of Luv is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award. Tei is currently writing an opera based on the lives of John Titor and Yoshida Kenko.

Johnny Moreno (video/projection) (he/him) is a production designer and filmmaker working across multiple disciplines, including theater, film, and live music. Recently he was the scenic and video designer of Fandango for Butterflies (and coyotes) at La Jolla Playhouse and production designer on José Rivera's short film The Fall of a Sparrow. For over a decade he has worked internationally as a concert video director and designer with multi-Grammy Award winning singer Lila Downs. As a filmmaker and cinematographer, he creates, directs, and produces visual material across a variety of mediums. Select projects include I Am a Seagull by The Chekhov Project and the award-winning short film Early Light. He has provided additional camera work for Broadway's MJ the Musical and Dear Evan Hansen and recently worked as an editor for film composer Hans Zimmer. Recent theater design includes Weightless, WP Theater; Addressless, Rattlestick Theater; For All the Women Who Thought They Were Mad, Soho Rep; A Grave is Given Supper, New Ohio Theater; Power of the Dog, Juilliard. Installations: Sweet Crude, Anna Kustera Gallery; As Above So Below, Dumbo Arts Festival;; Whitney White's Definition, Bushwick Starr. MFA: Yale School of Drama.

Sarah Lunnie (dramaturg) (she/her) is a dramaturg who works mainly on the creation and development of new plays. Favorite projects include Heidi Schreck's What The Constitution Means to Me (Broadway, New York Theatre Workshop, Clubbed Thumb); Jeff Augustin's Where The Mountain Meets the Sea, featuring original music by The Bengsons (Manhattan Theatre Club, Humana Festival); Anne Washburn's Shipwreck (Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth); Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2 and Hillary and Clinton (Broadway), The Thin Place (Playwrights Horizons), The Christians, nightnight and Death Tax (Humana Festival); Charles Mee's Under Construction, made with Siti Company (Humana); and, with The Mad Ones, Mrs. Murray's Menagerie (Ars Nova) and Miles for Mary (Playwrights Horizons, Bushwick Starr). With Telephonic Literary Union and Woolly Mammoth, Sarah commissioned Brittany K. Allen, Christopher Chen, Hansol Jung, and Zeniba Now to create the dial-in hotline Human Resources (Woolly, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). She has produced a number of projects for Audible, including Christopher Chen's The Podcaster; and is a repeat collaborator with the New York Choreographic Institute at New York City Ballet. Sarah previously worked in the literary offices of Actors Theatre of Louisville and Playwrights Horizons, and was an Associate Artistic Director of the Jungle Theater. She is the Senior Dramaturg of The Public Theater.

Sukanya Chakrabarti (cultural dramaturg) (she/her), Ph.D., is an artist-scholar and Associate Professor at the Department of Film and Theatre, San Jose State University. She received her doctoral degree in Theater and Performance Studies from Stanford University; and previously worked at Florida State University and San Francisco State University. Dr. Chakrabarti's works have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Indian Theatre Journal; Asian Theatre Journal; Modern Drama; Urban Geography; Ecumenica: Performance and Religion; and Emergency Index. She recently published a chapter, '"Go back to India if you hate my people so much:" Consequences of Troubling and Reimagining the "Canon" in American Academia' in Troubling Traditions: Canonicity, Theatre, and Performance in the US, published by Routledge. She is the author of a research monograph, In-Between Worlds: Performing [As] Bauls in an Age of Extremism (Routledge, UK). As an artist, she has worked as a playwright, director, dramaturg, and performer for South Asian theater companies in the Bay Area, Stanford University, Florida State University, and San Francisco State University. She has also collaborated with dance and movement artists, musicians, and spoken-word artists in India and the US, for her devised and experimental performance projects.

Patricia Marjorie (props designer) (she/her) is a Brazilian multidisciplinary theater artist based in New York with focus on costume design, props and directing. Next works: costume and props for Modern Swimwear directed by Meghan Finn. Recent works: costume designer for Simon and His Shoes by Meghan Finn; set design for Re MEMORI by Nambi E. Kelley (WP Theater); props for You Will Get Sick directed by Sam Pinkelton (Roundabout Theatre); Montag directed by Dustin Wills (Soho Rep); Ulysses and The Seagull by Elevator Repair Service, Eva Luna by Repertório Espanhol; Notes on Killing Seven Oversight... by Mara Vélez Meléndez (Soho Rep), 7 Minutes (Waterwell, dir. Mei Ann Teo), Black Exhibition by Jeremy O. Harris dir by Machel Ross, SKiNFoLK by Jillian Walker, In the Southern Breeze (Rattlestick). Patricia has also recently directed What Will Become of Kaaron? (The Tank) and her own work as a playwright A Song to Keep the Wolves Awake (The Tank).

Alyssa K. Howard (stage manager) (they/them) is a NYC-based stage manager and more. Recent credits include: The Far Country (Atlantic Theater Company), Black Lodge (Beth Morrison Projects), Once Upon A (korean) Time (Ma-Yi Theater), Golden Shield (MTC), Wolf Play (Soho Rep), Nollywood Dreams (MCC), King Lear (Northern Stage), for colored girls... (Public Theater), Mrs. Christie (Dorset Theatre Festival), If Pretty Hurts... (Playwrights Horizons), Good Grief (Vineyard Theatre), Henry VI (NAATCO), Teenage Dick (Ma-Yi Theater), Word Sound Power (BAM), The Echo Drift (Prototype), Glass Guignol (Mabou Mines), Dog Days (BMP at Fort Worth Opera/REDCAT/Prototype), Four Nights of Dream (Japan Society/Tokyo Bunka Kaikan). Selected virtual: What If If Only (NAATCO), P73 Virtual Residencies, Con Alma (National Sawdust). Other: Heartbeat Opera, Playwrights Realm, Noor Theatre, Bushwick Starr, 3LD, Mannes Opera, Juilliard School of Vocal Arts, Bucks County Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Group, Yale Repertory Theatre, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre. MFA: Yale School of Drama. BA: Williams College.

About Soho Rep

Soho Rep provides radical theater makers with productions of the highest caliber and tailor-made development at key junctures in their artistic practice. The organization elevates artists as thought leaders and citizens who change the field and society. Artistic autonomy is paramount at Soho Rep; the organization encourages an unmediated connection between artists and audiences to create a springboard for transformation and rich civic life beyond the walls of its theater.

Critics continue to herald Soho Rep as a go-to theater destination for new and original works. New York Magazine says, "this indispensable theater offers more excitement per chair than any space in town," Time Out New York says, "Soho Rep is the best theater in NYC," and The New York Times describes Soho Rep as "form-twisting, boundary-breaking, and acclaimed" and says, "The downtown powerhouse... regularly outclasses the work done on many of the city's larger stages." The Village Voice named Soho Rep the "Best Off-Broadway Theater Company," and the company was listed in Travel Magazine's "10 Essential Off-Broadway Theaters."

Soho Rep won the "Best Theater in NYC" award for the Time Out Best of the City Awards 2021. Time Out New York wrote, "Soho Rep isn't the last word in downtown experimental theater: Better than that, it's often one of the first words, championing major voices at key points in their careers...And Soho Rep's low ticket prices, including 99¢ Sundays, help keep some of the city's bravest, boldest and wildest theater within the reach of all New Yorkers. "

Soho Rep has also been honored with a Drama Desk Award for Sustained Achievement. Over the last decade, Soho Rep productions have garnered 21 OBIE Awards; the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical; 13 Drama Desk nominations; two Kesselring Awards; The New York Times Outstanding Playwriting Award for Dan LeFranc's Sixty Miles To Silverlake; and a special citation in The New York Drama Critics' Circle's 2012-13 awards. Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview, commissioned by Soho Rep and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In recent years, Soho Rep has presented plays by established and emerging theater artists such as David Adjmi, Annie Baker, Alice Birch, Debbie Tucker Green, Aleshea Harris, Lucas Hnath, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Daniel Alexander Jones, Richard Maxwell, Sarah Kane, Young Jean Lee, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and Anne Washburn.

Soho Rep is led by Directors Sarah Benson, Cynthia Flowers, and Meropi Peponides.


The National Asian American Theatre Co., Inc. (NAATCO) was formed in 1989 to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theater in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture by presenting the following repertory:

  • European and American classics as written with all Asian American casts;
  • Adaptations of these classics by Asian American Playwrights;
  • New plays - preferably world premieres - written by non-Asian Americans, not for or about Asian Americans, realized by all-Asian American casts.
  • New plays by Asian American Playwrights that incorporate other performative arts and media.

NAATCO puts into service its total commitment to Asian American theater artists to more accurately represent onstage the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society, demonstrating a rich tapestry of cultural difference bound by the American experience. The enrichment accrues to each different culture as well as to America as a whole.

NAATCO emphasizes Asian Americans' abilities to reach across ethnic boundaries to illuminate abiding characteristics of human nature, reflecting the kinship among disparate cultures, and affirming that timeless values and insights about old and new works can come from unexpected faces.

With the NAATCO National Partnership Project (NNPP), NAATCO will take our mission nationally, partnering with regional theaters around the country, as well as with other theaters in New York.

NAATCO and its performers have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the 2015 Ross Wetzsteon Award (an Obie given to theaters that nurture innovative new plays), the 2019 St. Clair Bayfield Award, the 2015 Lilly Award for Trailblazing, a 2014 performance Obie, and the 2006 Rosetta LeNoire award from Actors Equity Association recognizing NAATCO's contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theater.


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