How to Build a Better America
(L-R: Shaun Tuazon-Martin, Tamara Rodriguez, Arpita Mukherjee, Sam Woodhouse, Deepti Kingra, Devereau Chumrau, Ka'imi Kuoha, [a friend], TaiReikca L.A., Ulka Mohanty, Mondis Vakili, and Karthik Srinivasan)
Look at this gorgeous group!!
This is the cast of House of Joy by Madhuri Shekar, a play that was produced the company where I work as the Associate Producer & Casting Director, San Diego Repertory Theatre. I love this play so much, because it was feminist and queer and diverse and romantic and powerful...it was all the beautiful things you want a story to be.
Sadly, the play opened on March 11th, only to be closed the very next day due to COVID-19. So when this photo was taken, NO ONE had any idea that we were going to be shut down the next day. The joy is so clear on everyone's faces, isn't it? This is both such a gorgeous and sad photo when I remember the high we were feeling that night, and then how devastated we all were when we had to close the show.
(A couple of the artists on this photo were actually featured on The Nuance Interview series, so if you'd like to know more about them check out Devereau's interview here and TaiReikca's interview here. And in early December, I'll be interviewing Arpita Mukherjee!)
But right now I want to recognize how this show captures a seminal moment in regional theatre history. You see, having this many women of color onstage? Not common. And in a story that doesn't center around a man's experience? Even more uncommon.
In theatre, we're in a moment where plays are looking and living more like the people of America.
I can't tell you how important this is in the scheme of American humanities. The stories we tell matter. How we tell them is how we shape identity and model empathy, because theatre and the arts have always been the stewards of human connection and understanding.
And when women and BIPOC communities are over half the people in this world, how can we authentically engage with each other if our stories don't represent them??
I know not every theatre in America is producing plays like House of Joy, but more of them are. And more are starting to realize the absolute import of doing so. Little by little, we are building a better theatre landscape.
And by doing so, we are truly building a better America.