"Yoga Play"—Where Commerce, Spirituality and Comedy Meet

Tania Thompson
 | Dec 06, 2016
Dipika Guha

Playwright Dipika Guha.

Do you need to know anything about India or yoga to enjoy Dipika Guha’s new work, Yoga Play?

“Absolutely nothing!” says Guha. “At its heart, this is a play about what it means to be yourself.” Her play has been announced as a special full production for the 20th Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Repertory (PPF) in April 2017. Crispin Whittell will direct the world premiere production in performances that run April 19-30.

Yoga Play follows Joan, who has been hired to stabilize Jojomon, a yoga apparel company, after its CEO is embroiled in a fat-shaming scandal. But, just as she finds her stride, more trouble surfaces and sales free-fall. Jojomon needs an image makeover—and fast. Joan comes up with a plan so risky and unconventional that it could make or break the company and her career—and what it requires from her colleague, Raj, is far beyond the call of duty. This sharp comedy explores a Type-A personality in a feel-good industry rooted at the intersection of commerce and spirituality.

Yoga Play is an SCR CrossRoads commission, a program that immerses playwrights into the diversity of Orange County, Calif., communities. Guha grew up in India, where yoga was part of the school curriculum and everyday living. She never had taken an American yoga class until her 10-day CrossRoads residency. She found herself drawn to the commerce of yoga and the merchandizing of classes, clothing and accessories.

Born in Calcutta, Guha was raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Fellowship with The Lark Playwrights Development Center, A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook. Her work has been developed at numerous theatres including Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Red Bull Theatre and Roundabout Underground. She is currently under commission from Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Playwrights Horizons Theatre School.

Whittell previously directed the world premiere production of The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois at SCR during the 2014 Pacific Playwrights Festival.

“I like this play because it’s a funny, smart and theatrical piece about something you didn’t know you could write a play about—yoga!” adds Whittell.

SCR’s annual Pacific Playwrights Festival is a major national showcase for new plays. The three-day festival features new-play readings and world premiere productions. It serves as a forum for theatre professionals and theatre-goers alike who aid in the development of new American works. Previous festivals have included award-winning plays such as Amy Freed’s The Beard of Avon, Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, Melissa Ross’s Of Good Stock and David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole.

Tickets for this production go on sale in February 2017