Bucks County Playhouse Reveals Finalists for South Asian Artistic Initiative Playwrighting Festival

The plays are “Muslim in the Midst” by Anand Rao, “American Hunger” by Nikhil Mahapatra, and “Tea for Toofi” by Ravi Kapoor.

By: Mar. 22, 2024
Bucks County Playhouse Reveals Finalists for South Asian Artistic Initiative Playwrighting Festival
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Bucks County Playhouse has revealed the three original plays that will be featured in the inaugural South Asian Artistic Initiative Playwrighting Festival. The three works have been chosen for public readings May 10 and 11 at Bucks County Playhouse’s Lambertville Hall, in Lambertville, NJ. The three plays are “Muslim in the Midst” by Anand Rao (May 10, 7 p.m.), “American Hunger” by Nikhil Mahapatra (May 11, 2 p.m.) and “Tea for Toofi” by Ravi Kapoor (May 11, 7 p.m.) 

First announced in 2022, The South Asian Artistic Initiative is a multi-disciplinary artistic program dedicated to promoting, showcasing, and building an awareness of the impact of arts and artists of South Asian heritage. 

“As we grow in our understanding of how different cultures are underrepresented in the American theatre, we developed this program to reach out to South Asian theater artists and audiences. We’ve had a terrific response and have been delighted by the fertile and inventive artistry of these writers,” says Executive Producer, Robyn Goodman. “Our mentors, experts all, are helping these writers hone their work and bring it to the attention of theaters and audiences around the country.”

Set in India, during the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “Muslim in the Midst” by Anand Rao is an intense play that unravels the inherent contradictions and universal conflicts of our time. A chance encounter between two couples turns an act of kindness into a dark journey, fueled by media, into each other's prejudice, guilt, fear and ignorance. ‘A Muslim in the Midst’ was performed at New York’s Hudson Guild Theatre in 2016 and has since been produced at Yale University, the South Asian Theatre Festival 2017, and the Actor’s Fund Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. In 2019, the play was successfully produced in 6 different theatres in Bangalore, India. The play was a finalist for the best play award at the NY Summerfest 2018, and at the 2020 ScreenCraft Stage play contest. The reading of “Muslim in the Midst” will be directed by Vinita Belani. The reading of “Muslim in the Midst” will be held on Friday, May 10 at 7 pm.

In “American Hunger” by Nikhil Mahapatra, two Asian restaurants vie for culinary dominance in their rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Crown Heights, while their children begin to question the choices that will make - or break - their prospects as a continuation of the ambitions of their immigrant parents. A multi-disciplinary writer based in Brooklyn, their work has been showcased at Living Room Playlabs, Gingold Theatre Company, The Tank, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Brick, The Wild Project and more. Latest theatrical works include “Sweetfish!,” “Carnal,” “Lost in the Fire,” The Fields,” and Bali Babes.” “American Hunger” will be directed by Rajiv Joseph. The reading of “American Hunger” will be held on Saturday, May 11 at 2 pm.

Based on Molière’s Tartuffe, “Tea for Toofi” by Ravi Kapoor is a mad-cap farce set in 1980s Orange County, CA and tells the story of a retired computer engineer who invites a Hindu priest into his home to put his godless family to rights. Kapoor is an LA-based writer-director-actor born and raised in Liverpool. Previous playwrighting credits include “Oh Sweet Sita”, which was produced by Tara Arts in London and remounted in Toronto; “O!edipus” for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and “Prince of Delhi Palace” which received readings at the National Studio Theater in London and the Taper in LA.  The reading of “Tea for Toofi” will be directed by Kiran Merchant. The reading of “Tea for Toofi” will be held on Saturday, May 11 at 7 pm.

Casting for the readings is by Avani Parikh Dhar, Chimera Casting.

These inaugural readings feature works selected after an extensive screening process. Award-winning Playwright Rajiv Joseph (“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”), Anne Cattaneo (Lincoln Center), Christian Parker (former Associate Artistic Director of The Atlantic theater Company), Kiran Merchant and Playhouse producers, Goodman, Fraser, and Fiedler made the final selections. One finalist will receive a workshop production on the Playhouse stage.

Bucks County Playhouse, whose bucolic Pennsylvania location has inspired several generations of theater and fine artists, is a logical location for the initiative. With its trio of Tony-winning producers, the Playhouse has continued to advocate and support new work and rising artists. Since 2012, the Playhouse has hosted or developed eight world-premiere plays and musicals. It also hosts the annual Oscar Hammerstein Festival, a year-long program that offers expert mentorship to early career composers and lyricists. 

Complete information on the readings can be found at BucksCountyPlayhouse.org. The readings will be free. Due to space limitations, reservations are required. Visit the website or call 215-862-2121.