From Bangladesh to Bengali Harlem and Hartford Stage, a conversation with actor and playwright Alaudin Ullah
What does it mean to be American? In Dishwasher Dreams, now playing on Hartford Stage, writer, actor, and comedian Alaudin Ullah explores the “otherization” of brown Muslim Americans in America, and by extension, Hollywood.
Ullah grew up in New York City, playing video games, eating hamburgers, listening to hip hop, and cheering for the Knicks. So when the only roles offered to him in Hollywood were that of a terrorist or a bumbling South Asian, Ullah hit pause. Now, his documentary, In Search of Bengali Harlem produced by PBS, takes a hard look at the soul of the American Dream, the “otherization” of his parents, and the celebration of the strength of one’s roots, and the power of one’s wings.
We also listen to the beat of the tabla played by composer and percussionist Avirodh Sharma, whose parents’ non-Ellis Island journey from the West Indies to India to New York City influenced Sharma to create a tapestry of music from South Asia to Spanish Harlem and to Bengali Harlem in Dishwasher Dreams.
Snigdha Sur, Founder and CEO of The Juggernaut and host of the podcast The Juggernaut Interviews; Author Eshani Surya, working on her debut novel All the Hungry Eyes; and Lakshmi Iyer, author of the children’s book Why is My Hair Curly and mother of three girls, two of whom are Caucasian and adopted, share their stories and the complexity of the non-monolithic South Asian American.
- Alaudin Ullah: Comedian, Writer, Actor, Dishwasher Dreams on Hartford Stage
- Avirodh Sharma: Tabla percussionist, Composer, Dishwasher Dreams on Hartford Stage
- Bandana Purkayastha: Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut