Making its world premiere, 2023 Mark O'Donnell Prize winner Shayok Misha Chowdhury's Public Obscenities begins its run February 15. NAATCO and Soho Rep, where the play is being mounted, co-commissioned and co-produce the work performed in Bangla and English.
Queer studies PhD student Choton returns to his family home in Kolkata with his Black American boyfriend Raheem. While there, Choton makes a discovery, and finds the limits of language. Public Obscenities is about "the things we see, the things we miss, and the things that turn us on."
Starring are Abrar Haque as Choton, Jakeem Dante Powell as Raheem, Tashnuva Anan as Shou, Debashis Roy Chowdhury as Pishe, Golam Sarwar Harun as Jitesh, Gargi Mukherjee as Pishimoni, and NaFis as Sebanti. Six of the cast members are Bengali actors from across the U.S. found via a nationwide casting search by Stephanie Yankwitt and Kim Montelibano Heil. All are making their Off-Broadway debuts.
The creative team features scenic designer dots, costume designer Enver Chakartash, lighting designer Barbara Samuels, sound designer Tei Blow, projection and video designer Johnny Moreno, dramaturg Sarah Lunnie, cultural dramaturg Sukanya Chakrabarti, props designer Patricia Marjorie, and stage manager Alyssa K. Howard.
Partially inspired by a dream his uncle related to him, Chowdhury shared in an earlier statement, “In some ways, the play is me wrestling with the fact that my uncle handed me his dream and told me to make a movie out of it. But I don't make movies—so instead of making a movie, I made a play about who gets to be an artist and what to do with all these unexpected things we inherit. My grandfather’s old Rolleicord camera was another major inspiration for the piece, and it may even show up on stage. I like to think that through the camera, my grandfather is also making his Off-Broadway debut.”
Public Obscenities is the first play co-commissioned by Soho Rep and The National Asian American Theatre Company through the NAATCO National Partnership Project.
For more information, visit SohoRep.org.