'Public Obscenities' by Shayok Misha Chowdhury '16 to Open at Soho Rep

Anastasia Ellis
January 26, 2023

Public Obscenities, a new play written and directed by Directing alumnus Shayok Misha Chowdhury ’16, will begin performances on February 15, 2023 at Soho Rep. The show was co-commissioned and co-produced by Soho Repertory Theatre and the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) through the NAATCO National Partner Project. Public Obscenities is the first play to be co-commissioned by the two organizations under the project. Performances run through March 26, 2023.  

Public Obscenities is a bilingual play, performed in Bangla, the state language of Bangladesh, and English. It follows the story of Choton, a queer studies PhD student, as he returns to his family home in Kolkata with his Black American boyfriend, Raheem. Choton prides himself on his translating abilities—between Bangla and English, and between Grindr and the complex jargon of academia. While in Kolkata, an unexpected discovery leaves Choton at the limits of language. Misha explains that Public Obscenities was inspired in part by a dream his uncle relayed to him, from which he “made a play about who gets to be an artist and what to do with all these unexpected things we inherit.” It is a play about the things we see, the things we miss, and the things that turn us on. 

The NAATCO National Partner Project (NNPP) aims to ensure and engrain the inclusion of Asian American theatre artists, technicians, administrators, and community members in the American theatre. The project will establish relationships with theatres around the United States, working toward the implementation of strategies to include Asian Americans in all aspects of those theatres’ practices. The NNPP’s anchor partners are Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut, New York Theatre Workshop and Soho Rep in New York, and Two River Theater in New Jersey.   

Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a multidisciplinary theatre artist based in Brooklyn and a 2022 Princess Grace Honorarium Recipient. He began writing Public Obscenities as an inaugural member of Soho Rep’s Project Number One. Upcoming, Misha will direct SPEECH, which he co-created with Lightning Rod Special, at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. As a Resident Artist at HERE Arts Center, he is developing Rheology, a concert-memoir-physics-symposium, for which he was awarded an inaugural Sundance Asian American Fellowship. Other projects include Brother, Brother at New York Theatre Workshop, MukhAgni at Under the Radar, and How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia at Joe’s Pub with Laura Grill Jaye, the other half of musical-making duo Grill and Chowder. Misha is the creator of VICHITRA, a series of sound-driven, cinematic experiments, including Englandbashi (Ann Arbor Film Festival); The Other Other (Ars Nova); An Anthology of Queer Dreams (Audio Unbound Award finalist); and In Order to Become (The Bushwick Starr), which he is developing into a live Carnatic opera. Misha is also an alumnus of New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship, The Public Theater’s Devised Theater Working Group, Ars Nova’s Makers Lab, New York Stage and Film Nexus, the Sundance Art of Practice Fellowship, BRIClab, and Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab.