Meet the Labbies: DEEPA PUROHIT
Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.
Meet Deepa Purohit.
Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Deepa Purohit: I’m a woman, mother, writer, theater artist, brown person, Indian American, sister, daughter / who is a beast when she’s not creating- especially to her loved ones / and who believes deeply in the power of teaching as a way to change kids and, in effect, the world.
MYTC: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
DP: Stories of people of color, funny, that reside in the darker crevices of the world hungering for light, breath and air.
MYTC: What play(s) are you currently working on?
The As Yet Untitled Yo Project,
And a few others that haven’t reached paper yet.
MYTC: Is there a particular piece of theatre or art that strikes your fancy right now and why
DP: Imperfect theater that leaves you devastated and laughing all in one go. Plays with music (not musicals per say) but live instrumentation and vocals along with the story. Simple love stories. Plays about older people. They have a lot to tell the world and we don’t always listen.
MYTC: If you could meet one fictional character, who would it be and why?
DP: Karl Knaasguard – not fictional but a character in a book for sure! And would LOVE to meet him.
MYTC: How would you describe your style of writing and/or aesthetic?
DP: Not sure. still working on it. hmmm – ask me in a couple years
MYTC: What makes you angry?
DP: Social injustice; kids in pain for no reason (when is there ever a reason for kids being in pain).
MYTC: What makes you happy?
DP: Kids, open sky, walking, swimming, eating cake and drinking tea.
MYTC: What is your favorite midnight snack?
DP: Cake or ice cream.
MYTC: Why do you write plays?
DP: I’m still trying to figure it out but I love listening to people talk fight cry and laugh – I love the sound of voices and plays have that. I also like creating worlds that make me emote – that’s fun and scary.
MYTC: How did you find out about the Writers Lab?
DP: I’ve known about it for a while and have known many in the group for over 10 years.
MYTC: Are there any upcoming readings, workshops, and/or productions of your work coming up? Tell us when and where!
DP: Just the Ma-Yi Lab reading Oct 14 for now.
Deepa Purohit is a member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab. She is the co-founder of Rising Circle Theater Collective, a theater company dedicated to developing and producing the unheard stories of people of color on the American stage. As the Artistic Director of her theater company for 12 years (until 2013), she oversaw:
- The development and/or production of 20 original plays written by playwrights of color
- The founding and expansion of programming for Q Up, a five-day arts intensive for Asian American high school girls from Queens
- The founding of Rising Circle’s, INKtank, a 12-week writers lab for writers of color, that completed its 5thyear
- The creation a new play development program called The Refinery, bringing plays from page to the stage as workshop performances
Deepa is also the Founder and CEO of her consulting company, Finding Your Authentic Voice, Inc. and the Senior Managing Director of Voice and Speech Coaching at Teach For America. She is a1992 Teach For America alumna and taught 6th and 8th grade English for 3 years in Baltimore City Public Schools. She has lived in New York for 20 years and taught writing and theater to students of all ages living in low-income communities across the city of New York both in school and for after-school programs for 6 years. She received her BA from Northwestern University and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University.