2018 Reading Four

Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings

2018 Reading Four

Reading Four: A Full Length Play

October 22, 2018

1700 Theatre at Steppenwolf Theatre

1700 N Halsted Street
Chicago, IL

6-8 PM


This reading is presented as part of the LookOut Series – Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form.

“First Data Gold”by Tanuja Jagernauth

Sunny is the broke outcast of his conservative, South Asian family and the biggest Mets fan that ever lived. His girlfriend, Masiko, is a Dominican statistician with a knack for making winning bets on baseball and harnessing quantum space. Sunny is shocked when his estranged, toxic father, a die-hard Yankees fan, invites him to this weekend’s Mets vs. Yankees game at Citi Field in Queens. At the game, Sunny’s dad invites him to join his brand new, multi-level marketed cannabusiness, confirming Masiko’s suspicions that the whole thing is a trap. Will Sunny put his conflicted family past behind him and go into business with his father for a shot at financial security and family reunification or will he remain true to the values he shares with Masiko?


Tanuja Jagernauth

Tanuja Jagernauth
Tanuja Devi Jagernauth believes in the necessity of creation during times of destruction. Born in Guyana, South America, raised in Arizona, and currently living in Chicago, her artistic work employs humor, expressionism and magical realism to explore identity, assimilation, sexual violence, family, spirituality, and generational trauma. As an Indo-Caribbean immigrant and two-time alum of the “Voices of Our Nations Arts” multi-genre writing workshop for people of color, Jagernauth is dedicated to using her artistic and political work to help further the interests of healing justice, prison abolition, and Black liberation.


Our Perspective Reading Four Cast Kaiser Zaki Ahmed 

Kaiser Zaki Ahmed
Kaiser a Chicago-based theatre director, actor and teacher and an alum of Columbia College Chicago’s Theatre Directing program. Most recently, he directed the Jeff-Nominated 1980 (or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson) and Assistant Directed Guards at the Taj (Steppenwolf) and Hand to God (Victory Gardens). Kaiser was the Founding Artistic Director of Jackalope from its inception in May of 2008 through the end of 2011, and continues to serve as the Associate Artistic Director. Kaiser is a 2015-16 Eugene O’Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist, a 2016-17 Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative recipient and an Associate Member of SDC. Favorite acting work includes Ideation (Best Ensemble nomination) & Lunacy! (Jackalope Theatre), A Nice Indian Boy (Rasaka Theatre) and The Seagull (Artistic Home Theatre), The Awake (First Floor Theatre) and several film & commercial spots, proudly represented by Gray Talent.

Our Perspective Reading Four Cast Adia Alli

Adia Alli
Adia is a Nigerian-born, Michigan-raised artist. She creates as an actor, director, teaching artist, arts administrator, and stage manager. Some Chicago credits include: No Child (Definition Theatre Company), Curves and Edges (Interrobang Theatre Project); The Doppelgänger (u/s, Steppenwolf Theatre); The Wolves (Assistant Director, Goodman Theatre); Insurrection: Holding History (u/s, Stage Left Theatre); Sweet (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre); First (For Youth Inquiry); and good friday (u/s, Oracle Productions). Adia plays Danielle in the web-series Seeds! She holds a BA in Theatre and a specialization in African American and African Studies from Michigan State University. Represented by Gray Talent Group.

Our Perspective Reading Four Cast- Vijay Bhargava

Vijay Bhargava
Vijay Bhargava most recently starred in a short film An American Dream; his previous film appearances include The Origins of Wit and Humor, Give Into The Night and 30 Seconds. His TV credits include Boss and American Greed. He has played leading role in the formal reading of play The Perfect Ganesh and supportive role in the reading of Yasmina’s Necklace. He has played leading roles in two short plays The Tape and Faith. He is a core ensemble member of ImprovBus, which regularly performs improv around the Chicago area. Recently, he was a featured storyteller for Hear Chicago, a live storytelling show. He produced the critically-acclaimed feature film Patang and served as creative consultant on numerous film projects, including Sangam and Radhe Radhe.

Our Perspective Reading Four Cast Kamal Hans

Kamal Hans
Kamal Hans has been Producing for Rasaka Theatre Company since 2008. Kamal’s “day job” is Chief Executive Officer for Jarda King Ltd. (one of the oldest South Asian Importers/Distributors in the USA).  Singing, Emceeing, Auctioning, Acting and producing since the 90’s, Kamal’ Television credits include: CHICAGO MED, CHICAGO PD, Showtime’s SHAMELESS, the webseriesCODE-SWITCHED, Feature Films, PROMISED LAND, CONSUMED and CONTAGION. Favorite theatrical roles include: Jitender in MERCHANT ON VENICE (Rasika/Vitalist); Dr. Aziz in A PASSAGE TO INDIA (Vitalist Theatre); INVASION! (Silk Road Theatre); Leonato in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Rasaka); Mayor in F*#kn’ A (Urban Theater); Marius in FANNY; Caliban in Shakespeare’s TEMPEST (ITC) and Anatoly in CHESS (Phoenix). Education:the DePaul Theatre School, Julliard, RADA, the University of Chicago, Loyola, and IWU.  Representation: Stewart Talent.

Our Perspective Reading Four Reading Stage Directions - Xu

Stage Direction
Xu – pronounced like the footwear of your choice – is a classic tale of tech consultant turned comedian. She currently performs with her improv teams: Stir Friday Night, Ride or Die, and 3 Asian Women on Stage at Once. She’s studied at iO, Second City, the Annoyance, and Black Box Acting. And has performed around the city including The Playground, and Steppenwolf. Her acting credits include the webseries PRE-EXISTING, and CODE SWITCHED. She is currently represented by Lily’s Talent.


Our Perspective Reading Four Director - Puja Mohindra

Puja Mohindra
Her latest web series, “Geeta’s Guide To Moving On” was an official selection of the 2016 New York TV Film Festival and the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The first 3 episodes can be found on Open TV and the full Season One of 11 episodes will premiere on Open TV on April 25. Prior to this, Puja co-created the comedic web series, “Friendly Confines,” which earned awards for Best Comedy Writing and Best Ensemble Acting at the 2013 LA Web Series Festival. Silk Road Rising produced a workshop production of her one-woman-play, “A Great Dive,” in August 2015. She’s most often recognized for her digital media work, including “Sh*t White Girls Say To Indian Girls” and “To Ashton Kutcher, Love Kimmy Patel.” TV credits include: “Empire,” “Chicago Med,” “Crisis,” “Chicago Fire,” “Undercovers,” “CSI: Miami ,” “Three Rivers,” “Miami Medical,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “All My Children,” “Valentine,” and the HBO pilot, “1%.” She is a graduate of the A.CT MFA Acting program. Find her at @pujamohindra on Twitter and Instagram.


Neil Connelly
Neil Connelly is a founding member of Under the Rug Theatre Company, which produced his play, RIDE, in the spring of 2016. Neil was a semi-finalist for the Downstage Left Playwright Residency at Stage Left Theatre, a Top-10 Finalist for Centre Stage’s New Play Festival, and a semi-finalist for the 2018 Tutterow Fellowship at Chicago Dramatists. Neil was a member of The Writers’ Room with The New Colony and has worked on his craft in various writers groups at Chicago Dramatists.

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