It is with a particular sense of disappointment that I read Eugenia B. Schraa’s review of “Gehri Dosti” (Arts, “Gheri [sic] Dosti: Enlightened but Dull,” Nov. 3). Not because the review had less than stellar things to say about the show (a reviewer is entitled to an informed opinion—if anything, the readership of a periodical in which it appears waits upon it), but on account of the implications that such a review might betoken. Having been largely involved in South Asian theatre at Harvard—it was my play, “Grave Affairs,” that was the first production of the South Asian Association (SAA) in 2001, marked by sold out performances, and followed in like manner by “Interrogations” in 2002, and this spring, by “Sakina’s Restaurant”—I have had the privilege to belong to a South Asian community here that witnesses to themes that that are real as much to that community as any other, no matter how controversial. To have such witness dismissed through the cavalier suggestion that ultimately, the SAA would have created a more powerful piece of theatre had it stuck to dance, is patronising, limiting and could well smack of both cultural imperialism and racism (though after corresponding with Schraa, I do not believe this was her intention).
Not for one moment will I suggest that the theatrical work of the South Asian Association, or of other groups of color, be held to different standards from those expected of more mainstream plays. Let there be criticism, and if needs be, let it be assiduous. But rank dismissal carried on the back of poor research bodes less than well for the credibility of The Crimson as a fair reflector of work redounding to those of diverse backgrounds.
Nov. 4, 2003
The writer is a graduate student in history of science.