“Muthaland” at Raven Theatre Review - Hosted by Indo-American Heritage Museum

The action takes Minita and us from America to India. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

IAHM supporters mill in the lobby before the show. This was a near capacity crowd at the Raven Theater. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

Minita re-enacts many of her phone conversations with her loving parents. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

A near capacity crowd offered a standing ovation to Minita Gandhi after her astonishing performance of  “Muthaland” at Raven Theatre on August 2. 

 

To please her brother/cousin at his arranged marriage and to assuage her parent's concerns that she is unwed and aging, Minita agrees to do a Bollywood dance at her brother/cousin's Indian wedding. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

During a Talk Back led by Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising where “Muthaland” was developed and performed in April 2015, audience members including numerous  “aunties” and “uncles.” proclaimed the solo show directed by Heidi Stillman “amazing, honest, brave, powerful, engaging, provocative.”

 

Silk Road Rising's Malik Gillani (Founding Executive Director) and Jamil Khoury (right- Founding Artistic Director) were instrumental in helping Minita bring her one-woman show to life. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

After seeing “Muthaland” during its brief run at  Silk Road Rising, IAHM Board members  Raja Nadampalli and Lakshmi Menon  prompted their colleagues to organize  a presentation of “Muthaland”  in keeping with the Indo-American Heritage Museums support of  youth exploring and expressing Indian American identity and efforts to foster understanding and respect for Indian heritage and culture. For upcoming activities and more information check the Indo-American Heritage Museum website

 

The audience continues to beam at Minita during the post-show discussion. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

In a  drama  skillfully developed  from her personal experiences  Minita Gandhi portrays a millennial’s life which is very different from of the lives of the young bride and groom who became her parents.

 

One of the reasons that Muthaland is so riveting is Minita's ability to quickly transition to many characters-- from astrologers, her parents, Hindi Temple priests, and more-- with quick and seamless transitions. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

Interspersed with touching moments of spirituality, she confesses hosting a raunchy bachelorette party while her parents were out of town and seriously considering a move to London with a boyfriend. 

 

Here Minita is re-enacting the advice from an astrologer who tells her of her impending meeting with her true love and marriage. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

Her yearning to be independent and self-reliant prompted an excursion on her own to a yoga ashram at a famous temple in India where  she discovered  unimaginable perils. 

 

Holding the family treasure of the suitcase her father brought to America, Minita's story ends with her re-embracing her Indian heritage. Photo: Crimson Cat Studios (Susie Inverso)

 

Her beautifully crafted story engages the audience in her journey of self-discovery and identity.  

 

Although she was born in Mumbai, Minita grew up in San Francisco and after study in a Drama Academy has pursued a career in theatre and film in Chicago for the past eight  years. 

 

During the Talk Back Minita shares that she had never performed before as many "aunties and uncles" before this IAHM-sponsored event. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

During the Talk Back after the show, Minita shared that she collaborated closely with her parents on this work but that she has so far spared them from seeing it, as she is concerned that some of the content may prove painful for them to watch. Meanwhile, an audience member spoke for many when he suggested that her parents could not help but be enormously proud of her. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

In the post-show Talk Back Minita fended questions about her choices vs . arranged marriages with great diplomatic skill and an appealing open-mindedness to all points of view. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

Her recent appearance in  “The Who and the What”  by “Disgraced” writer Ayad Akhtar at Victory Gardens was highly praised.  She appeared in” “Lake Effect”  written by  Rajiv Joseph, acclaimed author of  ”Bengal Tiger in the Bagdad Zoo” at Silk Road Rising, and  worked with Mary Zimmerman on "Arabian Nights,” at Lookinglass Theatre.  Her film credits include "Parvati's Golden Skin" and "The Drunk" and she  has appeared in  Fox's "Chicago Code" and "Onion News.”

 

Jamil Khoury of Silk Road Rising hosts the exchange between the audience and Minita during the post-show Talk Back. Photo: Peter Kachergis

 

Silk Road Rising’s next show is “A Great Dive”  written and performed by another young Indian American,  Puja Mohindra.  A limited number of tickets are available  for August 13-16 at Silk Road Rising's website.  Silk Road Theatre is located  in The Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington, Chicago 60602.

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