RISE – by Shyamala Moorty

Synopsis: A love-sick heroine wields a plunger as her only weapon against riots, religious fundamentalism, and the breakdown of the toilet.  A series of characters “rise”  out of her clogged toilet to regurgitate their stories of religious fundamentalism, war, and toilet paper shortages.  RISE merges humorous and dramatic characterizations with contemporary Indian dance, and a touch of Bollywood to create a  striking commentary on  Hindu and Muslim conflicts during the 2002 “riots” in Gujarat, India.

Setting: A bathroom in the US
Time Period: 2002

Cast Size: 1-4
Casting: This is a solo show but may be performed by a larger cast

South Asian woman, late 20s
South Asian girl under 10
South Asian male 50s or older
South Asian woman 50s or older

Design Needs: A toilet is the center piece, mounted on dry wall so it can be stood upon.

This Play Is: unpublished

Production History:

2007    Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Festival, Exhibition Centre, Toronto, Canada

2006    The Next Big Bang Showcase (excerpt), Japan American Theater, Los Angeles, CA

2005    34th Conference on South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast 2005 Conference, Claremont Graduate University, CA
MultiCultural Center Theater, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
LA Women’s Theater Festival, Lee Strasberg Creative Center, West Hollywood, CA
La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA

2004    University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Los Olivos Commons, Cal State Pomona, CA
Uproar, Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA
UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA

2003    Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Teada Works, Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA

Review Quotes: “It was Moorty’s Rise,  however, that astonished.  In this 30 minute tour de force, she morphed into several characters’ “Reciting her own poetic text, with video by Leilani Chan, she used toilet and a plunger to create a metaphor for the loss of life caused by 2002â s riots in Gujarat, India.”
- Victoria Looseleaf, Los Angeles Times, 17 January 2004

“a heartening testimony to the very power of artistic work that can touch and transform an audience and challenge them to be involved responsibly in our increasingly shrinking world.”
-  Ketu Katrak, South Asian Popular Culture Journal, October 2004

1 comment to RISE – by Shyamala Moorty

  • Neelu Chawla

    Hello Shyamala,

    I’d love to read your play or see a performance of it. Do you have a copy to share or where can I get a copy in print or a video of your performance?

    I’m a family therapist completing my PhD at Purdue University and I often have my students read contemporary poetry and look at (performance) art to teach about how to tune into the emotional vastness of people’s experiences.

    In someways, I believe the therapeutic space is a type of performance space where people first perform the new person they want to be. Then, outside of the therapy space, actually becomes that person. Thus, my interest and love for theater/plays and passing this love onto students.


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