Yale Bulletin and Calendar

October 6, 2000Volume 29, Number 5

The cast and creator of "Rice Boy": (foreground from left) Yolande Bavan, Anita Gandhi, playwright Sunil Kuruvilla, Wayne Kasserman, Ajay Naidu, Sanjiv Jhaveri, (background, from left) Colin Lane, Shaheen Vaaz and Angel Desai.

Yale Rep staging world premiere of alumnus' play

The Yale Repertory Theatre will present the world premiere of "Rice Boy," a tale of rebellion and love between different generations and different cultures, Oct. 19-Nov. 11.

The drama by recent School of Drama graduate Sunil Kuruvilla will be staged by Obie Award-winning director Liz Diamond at the Yale Repertory Theatre, corner of Chapel and York streets.

"It is truly a pleasure to introduce Yale Rep audiences to the work of Sunil Kuruvilla, a 1999 graduate of the Drama School," says Stan Wojewodski Jr., the Yale Rep's artistic director and dean of the School of Drama.

"Sunil's writing is at once energetic and elegant, witty and thoughtful. And Resident Director Liz Diamond, recognized for her work on new writing for the stage, has assembled a tremendously gifted cast," he adds.

The play intertwines the stories of 16-year-old Tina, who lives in India, and 12-year-old Tommy, who lives in Canada. As the play opens, Tina is learning the ancient art of kolam -- creating elaborate patterns with rice powder -- from her great-grandmother in preparation for marriage to a man she's never met. The scene then shifts to Tommy's house in Canada, where he sits in a tree, trying to make sense of his Indian heritage and contemplating a bleak future with his father. "Rice Boy" documents Tommy's flight across the Canadian countryside in search of a family that will allow him to "do what normal people do," and his recent trip to India, where his aunt, uncle and great-grandmother are preparing for Tina's impending wedding.

In addition to "Rice Boy," Kuruvilla is author of the play "Fighting Words," which had workshop readings at South Coast Repertory. He is also commissioned to write a new play. Kuruvilla has won several Canadian and international awards for his short stories and received a Long-Term Development Grant from the Canada Council, that country's equivalent of the National Endowment for the Arts. At Yale, he received the Truman Capote Fellowship and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award.

Wayne Kasserman, a recent graduate of American Conservatory Theatre, plays Tommy. He was last seen in "Julius Caesar" at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, where he also appeared in "The Winter's Tale." He also appeared in "The Threepenny Opera" and "A Christmas Carol" at American Conservatory Theater.

Angel Desai, who plays Tina, has appeared off Broadway in "The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin" at Playwrights Horizons, "Gum" at Women's Project and Productions, "Angelique" at Manhattan Class Company, and "Stop/Kiss" and "Henry VIII" at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. On television, she appeared in "Elmo and the Wolf," "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light."

Sean T. Krishnan, who plays Father, has appeared in Tom Stoppard's "Indian Ink" at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Target Margin's production of "A Family Affair" in New York City. In addition, he has performed at the Ford Center for the Arts, The Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, and We Are One Theatre, all in Toronto.

Rounding out the cast are Sanjiv Jhaveri as Uncle, Shaheen Vaaz as Auntie, Yolande Bavan as Granny, Anita Gandhi as Servant Girl, Colin Lane as Mr. Harris and Farmer, and Ajay Naidu as Fish Seller, Sari Clerk, Umbrella Man and Nut Seller.

Director Diamond's Yale Rep credits include last season's "Betrayal" as well as numerous other shows. Her other recent works include "The Trojan Women" at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and "Phédre" at American Repertory Theatre. In addition to the Obie, Diamond has received the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for directing. She has taught directing at the School of Drama since 1992 and has been the senior artistic associate at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue since 1998.

The production staff for "Rice Boy" includes Tobin Ross Ost, scenic designer; Cameron Lee Roberts, costume designer; Matthew Richards, lighting designer; David Budries, sound designer; and Claudia Wilsch, production dramaturg.

Performances for "Rice Boy" are Mondays at 7 p.m., and Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. There will be 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays, Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 11, and on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Tickets are currently on sale and range in price from $10 to $36. Discounted tickets are available for students, senior citizens and groups. Yale Repertory Theatre season subscriptions are also still available.

For more information, call the Yale Rep box office at (203) 432-1234; box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.


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