Lavina Jadhwani

Lavina Jadhwani

Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago-based director, adaptor, and activist. She gravitates towards heightened language texts from Eastern and Western canons. Her adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol premiered at the Guthrie in Minneapolis in 2021 and will remain on the boards for years to come. Other plays include Shakuntala (adapted from Kalidasa), Birbal and Akbar: Tales of Wit and Wisdom from India...
Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago-based director, adaptor, and activist. She gravitates towards heightened language texts from Eastern and Western canons. Her adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol premiered at the Guthrie in Minneapolis in 2021 and will remain on the boards for years to come. Other plays include Shakuntala (adapted from Kalidasa), Birbal and Akbar: Tales of Wit and Wisdom from India, and a three part cycle based on The Ramayana that focuses on the femme characters of Sita, Kaikeyi, and Shurpanakha. She also has translations of four Chekhov plays (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, and The Seagull) available.

In 2019, Lavina became the first woman of color to direct Shakespeare at the Guthrie. Other directing credits include Asolo Rep, the Gift, Mixed Blood, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Rep of St. Louis, Teatro Vista, and Rasaka Theatre Company, where she served as Artistic Director for 6 years. Her theatre training includes a well-rounded education (BFA in Scenic Design and MA in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon; MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University), numerous fellowships (including Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Phil Killian Directing Fellowship, the O’Neill/NNPN's National Directors Fellowship, the Drama League's Classical Directing Fellowship), and more than two decades of professional experience. Her critical writing has been featured on HowlRound and Rescripted and is regularly circulated in classrooms across the country.

Lavina serves on the board of the National New Play Network and the Chicago Inclusion Project, and she volunteers regularly with Unlock Her Potential, a national mentorship program for women of color. She is a proud alum of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (aka "Hogwarts for Hackers"), where she received the show choir's Bob Fosse Choreography Award and the drama club's "lifetime achievement" award.

Plays

  • The Sitayana (or "How to Make an Exit")
    The young princess Sita follows her new husband Ram to his kingdom in Ayodhya - only to learn that he has been banished to the forest! Refusing to abandon her partner, she joins him in exile, but finds her loyalty tested to surprising lengths. A solo piece written for a South Asian woman, The Sitayana is part Hindu epic, part coming of age story, and, ultimately, a break up play. Adapted from the Sanskrit epic...
    The young princess Sita follows her new husband Ram to his kingdom in Ayodhya - only to learn that he has been banished to the forest! Refusing to abandon her partner, she joins him in exile, but finds her loyalty tested to surprising lengths. A solo piece written for a South Asian woman, The Sitayana is part Hindu epic, part coming of age story, and, ultimately, a break up play. Adapted from the Sanskrit epic poem, The Ramayana.

    "Although her characters use informal, contemporary language, Jadhwani follows the Ramayana faithfully. By exploring the themes of the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective, the playwright highlights Sita’s patience and loyalty. Sita’s point of view also gives the script room to explore the price Sita pays to keep her marriage afloat; the dignity she sacrifices to live up to her culture and her husband’s idealized vision of womanhood."
    - Alisa Boland, Rescripted
  • Kaikeyi, Mother of Kings
    After Princess Kaikeyi saves King Dasharatha's life in battle, he gives her two boons... and his hand in marriage. When rumors fly that Prince Ram is to be named King instead of her son Bharat, a maidservant hatches a plan for Kaikeyi to banish Ram, in hopes of gaining power once she becomes Queen Mother. A play about sacrifice, motherhood, and listening to your own truth.
  • Shurpanakha, the Rakshasi
    A re-centering of the epic battle in The Ramayana, told through the lens of the demon king Ravana's sister, Shurpanakha.
  • A Christmas Carol
    A nimble Dickensian adaptation, written to be performed by as few at 12 (or as many as you'd like). Inclusive casting required. Can be performed with intermission or without.
    Premiered at the Guthrie in November 2021.
  • The Secret Garden
    A textually faithful adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel that re-imagines the Craven and Lennox families as Indian. When young Mary is orphaned in India, she's sent to Yorkshire to live with her Uncle Archibald at Misselthwaite Manor, where secrets abound.
  • Shakuntala, freely adapted from Kalidasa
    A modern adaptation of Kalidasa’s Sanskrit drama, infused contemporary Bollywood music.
    Development: Goodman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
  • Birbal and Akbar: Tales of Wit and Wisdom from India
    King Akbar rules wisely and fairly with the help of his famously witty courtier Birbal. Stories of their friendship are woven together with classic Indian folk tales about community, honesty, and fairness. This nimble script invites clever movement and prop design and is aimed for audiences of all ages.
  • The Cherry Orchard
    A contemporary language version of Chekhov's classic. Freely available for scene study/classes (donations happily accepted via Venmo; @lavinajadhwani).
    Please contact my agents for performance availability.
  • The Seagull
    A contemporary language version of Chekhov's classic.
    commissioned by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
  • Three Sisters
    A contemporary language version of Chekhov's classic. Freely available for scene study/classes (donations happily accepted via Venmo; @lavinajadhwani).
    Please contact my agents for performance availability.
  • Uncle Vanya
    A contemporary language version of Chekhov's classic. Freely available for scene study/classes (donations happily accepted via Venmo; @lavinajadhwani).
    Please contact my agents for performance availability.
  • VANYA or "That's Life!"
    In this hilarious and sharp reinvention of UNCLE VANYA, there is great providence in the shattering of a teacup, time moves backwards, and our bored, sad Chekhovian friends have a tendency to lapse into singing American Indie Folk tunes. What could be more Russian? Or American?
  • Juliet and Reese
    A pair of star crossed lovers are forced to grow up too soon when their are confronted with violent events in their community. This 10 minute play that spans four centuries, including two shootings in Dallas (1963 and 2016) with a little Shakespeare mixed in.

    Written for Jackalope Theatre Company's Living Newspaper Festival.