#CHARLOTTESVILLE by Priyanka Shetty at 59E59 – Triptych of Plays To Be Completed at Kennedy Center Intensive

Photo by Theresa Castracane

Playwright and Actor Priyanka Shetty Makes Her NYC Debut at Off-Broadway, Drama Desk Award-Winning 59E59 Theaters with #CHARLOTTESVILLE, from her Triptych of Solo Plays Examining Racial Violence in the U.S. 

Shetty’s #CHARLOTTESVILLE to Run at NYC’s 59E59 Theaters’ “East to Edinburgh” Festival

(New York – June 24, 2021) – Award-winning international actor and playwright Priyanka Shetty performs her solo play #CHARLOTTESVILLE, hand-picked as one of nine new works to be staged at the coveted 59E59 Theaters’ “East to Edinburgh” Festival in New York City this summer. This is the second of three plays in her Triptych of solos that reveals the harrowing and heart-wrenching experiences of the residents of Charlottesville, Virginia who were present as counter-protestors at the white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally on August 11th and 12th, 2017. Many survived and were seriously injured in the violent car attack that led to the tragic death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. 

Speaking about why this piece was chosen from a significant pool of submissions, Associate Curator at 59 E 59 Theaters Jessica Hart says, “Priyanka’s profound text is moving and thought provoking. Her powerhouse performance made this an easy choice. This solo show held me captivated from the first silhouetted moment to its poignant, final breath.”

Written and performed by Priyanka Shetty, #CHARLOTTESVILLE will be staged as part of 59E59 Theaters’ “East to Edinburgh Goes Virtual” festival from July 15-25. Tickets are $20 and include access to all nine virtual productions. Click here for tickets and information. 

#CHARLOTTESVILLE is a solo play about the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally and the events that took place between August 11-12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is constructed verbatim from interviews with local residents impacted by the events and its aftermath, and highlights their real-life experiences as they dealt with the crisis and continue to find ways to move forward as individuals and as a community. The play explores deep-seated racial inequities that have existed historically in Charlottesville and how it escalated to one of the most terrible manifestations of racial violence during what is now known as the ‘Summer of Hate.’

Shetty has simultaneously been selected among a cohort of burgeoning dramatists to join the prestigious Kennedy Center’s mentorship program for extraordinary playwrights this summer, where she will be completing her triptych of solos, of which #CHARLOTTESVILLE is a part. The first play of the series, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, had its critically acclaimed DC-premiere at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts’ Millennium Stage in 2019.

Program Director Gary Garrison remarks, “We’re thrilled to include Priyanka Shetty in the 2021 Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive. Priyanka’s extraordinary promise as a playwright and her beautiful theatrical work assured her a place in this year’s Intensive. We can’t wait to watch her grow.”

Originally from India, Shetty came to the U.S. to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting. She was enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville when the 2017 “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally transpired.

“I didn’t originally intend to become a playwright or write plays about social justice. But as an international student and artist who coincidentally landed in a city that saw one of the many manifestations of racism, discrimination and hate that continue to plague America, I had to speak up,” stated Shetty. “I realized my own cultural background and identity gave me a unique lens through which I could unpack these issues and bring awareness to them. I am hopeful that this virtual production of #CHARLOTTESVILLE will enable it to reach more people, because it is a play with a very important message and there’s an urgency associated with sharing it, given our current political climate.”

Priyanka brings a unique and global perspective as a South Asian immigrant and unpacks the quintessential American conflict of socio-economic inequality and racial violence in this triptych of solos. Each play in the triptych tackles the issues of race and discrimination from different perspectives – THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM approaches it from the viewpoint of a South Asian woman and her transition from deeply embedded roots in India to finding context and common ground in America; the second play #CHARLOTTESVILLE explores it from the perspective of a city that was at the center of one of America’s most terrible manifestations of racial violence; lastly, THE WALL ties it up by highlighting the immigrant experience in America.

The triptych will be available for production as a coordinated nationwide premiere across multiple cities in 2022-23.

#CHARLOTTESVILLE was originally presented as an ensemble play at Live Arts and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville, VA in April 2019 and workshopped as a solo play at The Abbey Theatre of Dublin in Dublin, OH in February 2021. 

Priyanka Shetty is an award-winning actor, director, and playwright. Her critically acclaimed one-woman show THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM has been performed at numerous venues across the US including The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC and will be staged as part of the reputed Assembly Festival at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe followed by a Scotland and wider-UK tour. The world premiere production of this play won the 2020 Broadway World Regional Awards for Best Performer of the Decade and Best Play of the Decade. Her second solo play #CHARLOTTESVILLE will be presented at the Drama Desk award-winning, Off-Broadway destination 59E59 Theaters’ “East to Edinburgh” Festival in July 2021. Priyanka has been selected as a member of the prestigious Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive 2021, where she will complete work on THE WALL, the final play in her triptych of solos which deals with the immigrant experience in America. Priyanka earned a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Virginia and has served on the faculty of the University of Virginia’s Department of Drama. www.priyankashetty.com 

Published by malinism

Malini is a native New Yorker who has been involved in the arts for her entire life. She's served the theatre in many aspects of which she's very proud – actress, director, producer, stage manager, costume designer, prop designer, theatre reviewer, publicist and most recently writer/monologist. She received her BA in Theatre Arts and English Literature from Baruch College and her MFA in Directing from the Actors Studio Drama School. In 2003, Malini and her husband, Ian, created Black Henna Productions with a handful of innovative artists. Every member of the company collaborates on every piece, either writing, acting, directing, designing, or filling any other role that fit their own personal skills with a commitment to bring new, exciting, and challenging theatre to the world. She is an associate member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. Malini received the Woman of Distinction Award for her contribution to Media, Arts and Culture from the City of New York in 2008. She is also a Person of Godspell which ran at Circle in the Square on Broadway from 2011-2012.

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