Shubhra Prakash Explores Indian Scripts In Digital Revolution With One-Woman Show FONTWALA

FONTWALA takes audiences on a journey of innovation, preservation and self-discovery.

By: Oct. 03, 2022

Shubhra Prakash Explores Indian Scripts In Digital Revolution With One-Woman Show FONTWALA Indian-American actress-writer Shubhra Prakash (शुभ्रा प्रकाश) explores the struggles to preserve the aesthetics of Indian scripts during the digital revolution with her one-woman show, FONTWALA, premiering in New York City at the Bowery Poetry Club from October 17-23, 2022.

FONTWALA takes audiences on a journey of innovation, preservation and self-discovery. The story follows Shilpi, who returns to India, after living in America for 20-years, to write a story about her prolific uncle, Fontwala, the designer of the first Anglo Nagari keyboard which allowed for the typing of Indian scripts on the computer. As Shilpi learns about the challenges India faced having many "complex" scripts, she also uncovers the struggles her uncle confronted as an artist-turned-entrepreneur competing against the western technology giants. But ultimately, Shilpi's most valuable discovery comes from her own experience, exploring what it's like to live in India, not as a child, but now as a modern woman.

Prakash found inspiration for the show from her real-life uncle, Rajeev Prakash, the artist turned typographer who did actually develop the first Anglo-Nagari keyboard. She travelled to India to record their interviews and write the play, which also resulted in their teaming to create two digital exhibitions on the subject, one physical in New Delhi and one virtual with the South Asia Institute in Chicago.

FONTWALA presents the intersection of art and commerce, and the search for "home" that so many immigrants face today. Prakash explains, "There is so much in the world today that can divide us, but I am asking the question, 'What can bring us together?' I want to write about things that can unite us. By diving into the story of Fontwala, and doing so by staying in India for the research, I learned how America is viewed by Indians. I also know how India is viewed by Americans, having lived here for so many years. Now as an artist, I want to bring stories of India to America and stories of America to India."

To help her bring FONTWALA to the stage, Prakash turned to director Marcus Yi, and collaborating producer Ram Devineni, Founder of non-profit artistic organization Rattapallax, as well as advisor Bob Holman, Founder of Bowery Poetry Club.

Recently, Prakash gained attention from NPR and the BBC as a writer on the educational comic, Priya's Mask. She also received the Activist Award from The Planet Connections Festivity for writing the ensemble play, For Our Own; and has participated in the Social Impact Writers Lab, Garage Stories: Cannes XR Challenge, and the Tribeca Film Institute's Immigration Co-Lab. She has created and starred in several short films, including Vanilla, which was a top pick at the Asian American Film Lab's 72-hour Film Shootout competition. In addition, Prakash co-wrote, produced, and starred in the original play, The Music In My Blood, about classical Indian music and Walter Kaufmann, a Jewish refugee to India during WWII who contributed to codifying Indian music. The show has been seen by audiences in New York at the American Theatre of Actors, as part of Natya Darpan's Multi-Lingual Play Festival in New Jersey, and as an invited performance with Natya Bharti in Rockville, Maryland.

Born in India, Prakash has been an immigrant in the US since she was a teenager. She started acting in productions in the San Francisco Bay area, before making her way to New York City. She has worked with the New York Fringe Festival and later co-founded Hypokrit Theatre Company. She proudly became instrumental in putting on festivals that allowed BIPOC artists a platform to perform within dance, theater, music and stand-up comedy. While in India during the pandemic, she produced a virtual play festival with Same Boat Theater Collective, based in the Bay Area. Prakash continues her commitment to creating new work and opportunities for fellow artists in the community.


U.S. Premiere in New York City
Date/Time: October 17-19, 2022 @7pm and October 22-23, 2022 @2pm
Location: Bowery Poetry Club - 308 Bowery, New York, NY 10012