9th Annual South Asian Theater Festival Staged at Crossroads

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—After the late August void, the area’s theater season is now in full swing.

On Saturday September 6, New Brunswick's Crossroads Theatre hosted the 9th annual South Asian Theater Festival.

Presented in conjunction with Epic Actor’s Workshop, this year’s focus was to bring to light the atrocities committed upon the multitudes of voiceless women of South Asia, and the challenges and conflicts South Asian women face assimilating into American Society and culture.

The afternoon began with well-established area playwright Sudipta Bhawmik’s "Taconic Parkway," a play where the American dream descends into a nightmare.

Director Manoj Tiwari takes us into the affluent suburban living room of an assimilating South Asian couple entertaining a celebrated Bollywood house guest. Gracious at first, the couple played by Suma Muralidhar and Sushil Rattan, vie for the attention of Manasij played by director Manoj Tiwari.

Spite, deceit, rage, and accusations rise as secrets surface and the play becomes a psychological battle with Manasij caught in the middle desperately trying to be the voice of reason.

As the play’s wonderful claustrophobia ensnared the audience, an interesting and unexpected twist reminiscent of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” pleased the near full house.

The likable and believable cast was on point. There was something very genuine and charming about this couple and their beleaguered houseguest.

And this reviewer very much enjoyed Playwright Bhawmik’s unique syntax, something regrettably that has started to homogenize in the American theater.  One should always be able to tell a playwright by his or her syntax and this playwright’s signature was on his work.

However, sitting toward the back of house, it could be sometimes difficult hearing the actors and the stage management at times was a bit sloppy. Stagehands should always wear black.

The staging, held back for the opening ceremonies, could have been set up at the start of the event and would have left plenty of room for Festival’s opening. Also, a curtain call always follows the end of a play and is expected by the audience.

Due to a prior commitment, this disappointed reviewer was only able to enjoy one of the six plays set for the two-day festival.

Also on the schedule were: Women of Modern Civilization by Bina Sharif, Talk of our Town, Sharmila Pinki Ghoshal, Ji Jaisi Aapki Marzi by Nadira Babbar, Teen Poyshar Pala, adapted by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay and Bibisaab by Adbulla Al-Mamun.

Original works provide a breath of fresh to any area’s theater community. Hats off to this year’s South Asian Theater festival for bringing several new and exciting voices to New Brunswick’s Theater Row.