Dhaba on Devon Avenue
by Madhuri Shekar
Originally produced at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago, IL
March 27 – April 26, 2020
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: Dhaba Canteen has been a Devon Avenue institution since the 60s, with their delicious Sindhi food transporting you back to the halcyon days of undivided India. Now it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. And the family that has run it for generations is ready to go to war over its fate. Written by Madhuri Shekar, (Queen) and directed by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew, it’s King Lear meets The Cherry Orchard in this Chicago story of fathers and daughters, of legacy, and of survival at all costs.
Artistic Statement: Dhaba on Devon Avenue is a story inspired by Chicago’s South Asian community, the third largest population of South Asians in the country.
Madhuri got intimately acquainted with the community during her time here developing her breakout play, Queen, which had its world premiere at Victory Gardens in 2017 with support from an Edgerton New Play Award. Madhuri was struck to learn that there has been no representation of this community on our Chicago stages. Dhaba on Devon Avenue is her response. It is a play about family, generational change, race, and the immigrant experience as seen through the eyes of an elderly Indian man living and working on Devon Avenue, a corridor through the far north side of Chicago renowned for its remarkable diversity, and a magnet for immigrants as they settle in to life in America.
Madhuri’s fierce, witty, observant, intelligent and original voice is loud and clear in this work. It is another demonstration of her exceptional talent for creating universally relatable stories with authenticity and compassion.
Since my first encounter with her first play and graduate thesis project, A Nice Indian Boy, in 2013 and we subsequently gave her new play, Queen, a workshop during our IGNITION Festival of New Pays in 2015 and produced its world premiere at Victory Gardens in 2017, Madhuri’s work has continued to gain a wider audience. Given the topicality and universal issues in her newest play, I firmly believe that Dhaba on Devon Avenue is destined to be a regional theatre staple across the country.
- Chay Yew, Artistic Director
Grant Statement: Our Edgerton New Play Award for Madhuri Shekar’s Dhaba on Devon Avenue affords us the resources to extend rehearsals by two weeks—one in early 2020 and a second appended to the regular rehearsal period—in lead up to its world premiere. It allows us to give this wonderful addition to Victory Gardens’ signature Chicago Play Cycle—the eighth play we have commissioned since 2011 for this unique collection of stories that reflect and represent the diverse neighborhoods and cultural communities of Chicago (and our nation) in contemporary and historical times.
- Erica Daniels, Executive Director
Director: Chay Yew