Eight One Eight Two
Eight One Eight Two, based on a true story, follows a coup d’etat attempt by Kenya Air Force soldiers in 1982 that triggers an Indian family in Mombasa to debate a major decision that could impact their lives forever.
Rishi Chowdhary was born in Mombasa, Kenya to Indian parents and moved to Miami, Florida at a young age. After writing cultural sketches and articles for the campus newspaper at Florida International University, Rishi moved to Poughkeepsie, New York for a job with IBM and spent many weekends in the city where he was able to soak in the theater and arts scenes. It was there he wrote his first short play, Color Me Desi, which ran in Desipina & Co’s Seven.11 2005 production. Rishi is excited be included in this year’s Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival and thanks his talented friends at Fresh Lime Soda Productions for performing his play, Eight One Eight Two, based on his family’s true story. Rishi currently lives in North Carolina and thanks his wife, Kavita, and his entire family for their support and listening to his wild play ideas.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
When I moved to New York in 2001, I met some people that were part of a theater group in NYC called Desipina & Co and they held an annual short play fest called Seven.11 Convenience Theater that showcased plays about Asian and South Asian experiences on the set of a convenience store. I attended in 2003 and 2004 and loved the concept and everything they were doing. I decided to try and write a play with elements from my background and it was selected in their 2005 production. It was very exciting being part of that. That led me to keep at it.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I was selected to be a fellow in a playwrighting program run locally here in North Carolina by the Ink Project in 2022. Over the course of five months, they helped guide us on playwrighting techniques and brought in guest speakers. As part of the program, we all had to write a 10 minute play which would have a staged reading as part of the virtual culminating event. While thinking of ideas for that assignment, I happened to be interviewing my parents to document what made them decide to move our family from Kenya to the United States in the early 1980’s – what was the trigger and the subsequent challenges they endured in making it happen. It was a compelling story and I decided to write about it as my short play. As humor is important to my writing, I also wanted to bring levity to the dramatic situation which I felt mixed well with the story. My goal is to develop this into a full length play and I am currently working on 3 additional scenes.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Humorous, Nostalgic, Unique, Ambitious, Detailed
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Kevin Smith, Larry David, Quentin Tarantino, Shakespeare, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, Mel Brooks
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
Onions are my enemy! But really, I once performed 1 minute of standup comedy show as part of a live podcast in front of hundreds of people at the Gramercy Theater.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Book of Mormon, The Producers, Hadestown, Wicked, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Romeo & Juliet
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Aside from developing this play, Eight One Eight Two, into a full length-play, I am currently working on a few short plays, one of which takes place in Miami in 1996 (living there in the late 90’s shaped a major part of my life).