New York: Leading playwrights of South Asian descent gathered here for the launch of a book of 11 plays, including one named ‘Bhopal,’ capturing varied themes such as race, ethnic conflict and socio-economic upheavals faced by immigrant communities.

The book, ‘Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora,’ showcased writers of South Asian descent from the U.K., South Africa, Canada and the U.S., the four main English-speaking regions of the Diaspora.

The book launch was integrated into a two-day event that included recitals of excerpts, discussions on featured work, and on development of South Asian theatre companies in different countries.

An internationally acclaimed playwright of Tamil lineage, Kessie Govender, captures the life of the South African Indian community during the decades of institutionalised racism in the country.

Closer to home, Rahul Varma’s play called ‘Bhopal,’ relives the political turmoil and human suffering behind the disaster, after 25 years. The play was performed, a few years ago, in India as “Zahreeli Hawa.”

The rich subject-matter reflects the diverse selection of dramatists like South African Ronnie Govender, British Asian Rukhsana Ahmad, and Indian-born actor Aasif Mandvi.

The editor of the book, Neilesh Bose described the plays as “historical pieces”. ‘Lahnees Pleasure’ was the first to have Indians on stage in South Africa. A historian of modern South Asia, Bose, said his objective was to “document these works for a wider audience.” — PTI