THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY’S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS
“A CASE STUDY OF PEOPLE WITH LABELS: MEEKS AND MINORITIES”
BY AJINKYA DESAI
An anti-stereotypical exploration of the lives of two “embodyers” of disempowerment
NEW YORK, July 18 – Have you ever wanted something from someone to your own detriment? Or struggled to keep your cool after being told the same thing over and over and over again? These are the questions Indian-born playwright Ajinkya Desai asks in his new drama, “A Case Study of People With Labels: Meeks and Minorities.” Narrated by a social scientist presenting his research, Desai’s play looks at the struggles of one “meek” and one minority, revealing the frustrations with their own fraught identities. Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival will present the world premiere of the piece September 1 to September 6.
Divided into two distinctively named acts, “’Coz We’re Just Friends” and “All in My Head,” “A Case Study of People With Labels: Meeks and Minorities” tells the plights of Jayant and Celia, two unrelated people who struggle with parts of their identities and are limited by the labels society has slapped onto them. Jayant is a nerdy, ambitious and loving college student who struggles to refuse doing a major favor for his closest friend Axe, a friend who has taken advantage of his inability to say no time and time again. Despite emotional bullying, Jayant’s deep love for his Axe, as well as his own somewhat warped conceptions about what friendship should look like, prevent him from standing up for himself. The second act is about a black actress named Celia who complains to her talent agent Aaron about her repeated casting as a maid. During their conversation Aaron offers her a different perspective, causing her rage to give way to confusion, reflection and a deeper questioning of whether she really has the right to complain. Are her emotions justified, or are they standing in the way of success? The social scientist presents Jayant and Celia as units of a pattern, members of large categories of people who are shown through research to exist. This allows Desai’s play to act as a beacon of empowerment and recognition for those who identify with these meek or minority communities, those who have been disempowered and kicked down by society.
Ajinkya Desai (author) is an alumnus of the Old Globe/USD Shiley Graduate Acting Program. He recently performed in his solo one-act, “The Doctor (Ph.D.) In Spite of Himself” in the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival. His first professional gig out of school was the Globe’s tour of “Twelfth Night,” in which he played Malvolio. He also appeared at the Globe in “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” “Macbeth” and “Hamlet.” He also has many theater credits from India, some of which were directed by renowned theater professionals. As an international artist, he works to explore how to integrate different cultures in a creative space. www. Ajinkya-desai.com.
Ajinkya Desai* will play the roles of social scientist, Jayant, and Aaron. Asterisk signifies equity actor.
The ninth annual Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 26 to September 16. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.
The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.
In addition to traditional
plays, a unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered,
drawing upon a variety of performance genres including musicals, puppetry
and movement theater. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael
Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining
donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions,
and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.
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