South Asian Same-Sex Relationships Take Center Stage in Circle East's Gehri Dosti

News   South Asian Same-Sex Relationships Take Center Stage in Circle East's Gehri Dosti
 
The red-hot issue of same-sex marriage became a sticking point during the past election year in the United States. It's no secret, however, that this controversial topic extends well beyond American soil to even the most remote reaches of the planet. Circle East, a New York-based company, will present Gehri Dosti, a collection of five short plays exploring same-sex relationships in South Asia, beginning on Jan. 6.
From Left: Sharbari Ahmed, Shruti Shah and Sam Morjaria  in I am Mou from Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent
From Left: Sharbari Ahmed, Shruti Shah and Sam Morjaria in I am Mou from Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent Photo by Vladimir Voloshin

Playwright and director Paul Knox has conceived the work, which had its world premiere last fall at Harvard University's Leverett Old Library. Prior to that production, the individual sections that comprise Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent had been developed in festivals the world over, from New York to Cape Town, South Africa. The Harvard production represented the first time the pieces was combined to form a full evening of exploratory theatre.

With the AIDS epidemic spreading exponentially through developing countries, Gehri Dosti is as much about spreading knowledge as it is about civil rights advocacy. In addition to serving as Circle East's executive director, Knox is the co-founder of the Tides Foundation's India Fund, an organization that facilitates community building efforts and educational initiatives among South Asia's gay groups. He has also conceived and co-produced Mela: A South Asian Festival of performances on the Indian subcontinent. For his work with the Russian Academy of Theater Arts, Mr. Knox has been a co-recipient of the United Nations Society of Writers Award.

Gehri Dosti, according to press materials, "offers a glimpse into a world of individuals marginalized by their sexuality." The plays included in the piece are: Loving Japamala (an Indian nun and gay man find a connection in the South Bronx); Eating Jain (an American man endangers his lover with a public display of affection); I Am Mou (real letters provide the basis for a look at violent repression); Two Men in Shoulder Stand (explores coping with HIV in a homophobic culture); and Tara Tara Didi (a Bollywood-styled spoof of same-sex love melding Shakespeare and Indian legend).

Founded in 2000, Circle East boasts a group of associated artists more than three hundred strong. Many of them were members of the defunct Circle Repertory Company, a major force in the creation of new American plays for more than thirty years. Under the artistic direction of Michael Warren Powell, Circle East has produced, among others, Mother Bird by Craig Lucas and Barbara Bush Never Slept Here by David Dewitt.

Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent runs Jan. 6 through 23 at Baruch College's Bernie West Theater at 17 Lexington Avenue, with an opening night scheduled for Jan. 10. The cast features Bobby Abid, Sharbari Ahmed, Michael Ellison, Mousa Kraish, Robert Maisonett, Sam Mojaria and Brendem Varma. Scenic design is by Tania Bijlani, lighting by Brian Aldous and costumes by Natasha Ballack.

Tickets are $19, with student/senior tickets priced at $15. For reservations call Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or visit the Smarttix website.

From Left: Michael Ellison and Bobby Abid in <i>Eating Jain</i> from <i>Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent</i>
From Left: Michael Ellison and Bobby Abid in Eating Jain from Gehri Dosti: 5 Short Plays with a South Asian Bent Photo by Vladimir Voloshin
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