Safe Space – by Brenden Varma
Synopsis: Safe Space is a satirical comedy featuring the South Asian-American gay and lesbian community. Opening with a support group meeting, the play follows the lives of a number of diverse characters as they try to reconcile their sexuality with their cultures and religions.
Setting: Manhattan (New York)
Time Period: Shortly after the September 11 attacks.
Cast Size: 10 (8 actors can cover all 10 roles)
VIKRAM (M), 27, Journalist/Activist, Hindu; parents from Gujarat (western India); born/raised in USA. Self-righteous, annoying. Out-and-proud gay.
NEAL (M), 26, Investment banker, Hindu; parents from Punjab (northern India); born/raised in USA. Cocky. Closeted.
RAJ (M), 19, Go-go dancer at gay bar, Hindu; parents from Guyana; born/raised in USA. Kind-hearted and sensitive.
MARY (F), 28, Graduate student, Christian; parents from Kerala (southern India); born/raised in USA. Butch. Gruff exterior but warm heart.
NAUSHEEN (F), 21, Works in dadâ s souvenir shop, Muslim; born/raised in Bangladesh. Shy. Obedient.
MR. CHOWDHURY (M), 50, Runs souvenir shop, Muslim; Nausheenâ s father; born/raised in Bangladesh. Very religious. Chauvinistic.
UMERA (F), 25, Works in Mr. Chowdhuryâ s souvenir shop, Muslim; parents from Bangladesh; born/raised in USA. Confident and brash. Tough street girl.
GILBERT (M), 20, Undergraduate student, originally Baptist but now Hindu; White American; born in India.
VISH (M), 40, Computer programmer, Hindu; born/raised in Mumbai, India. Sleazy but harmless. Tries to present himself as young/cool.
RANDOM BUS PASSENGER (M), Adult (Any age), White American
Design Needs: No major set requirements. Minimium would include 8 chairs and 1 desk.
This Play Is: published
Production History: Safe Space, satirizes the notion of community through a comedic look at support group meetings for gay South Asians. A reading of Safe Space first took place at an event organized by the South Asian League of Artists in America (SALAAM) in New York in June 2003. Because of the positive feedback received, Safe Space was expanded from a one-act into a full-length play and featured in another SALAAM reading in New York in June 2004. The original one-act version of Safe Space was featured in the Catamaran Journal of South Asian American Writing in its Fall 2004 edition. It also formed part of the syllabus of a course on Asian-American literature in 2006 in California’s Foothill-De Anza Community College District.
Review Quotes: Following the 2004 reading in New York of Safe Space, the newspaper ‘The Urban Indian’ referred to it on August 13, 2004, as “very comical.”