First South Asian of Indian Descent to direct at Bard on the Beach
A recent co-creator and co-director of Bard on the Beach’s All’s Well That Ends Well, Rohit Chokhani is the first South Asian of Indian descent to direct at Bard, Western Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare Festival. His fresh, bold take on the production received critical acclaim and enjoyed a sold out 6-week run, entertaining over 12,000 audience members. Here is what critics had to say about this production:
"This All’s Well That Ends Well looks and sounds gorgeous...Production is 10 out of 10 "- Jo ledingham
"Yes! This is the Bard on the Beach production I’ve been waiting for. This is the one to see... a treat to revel in the aesthetic exuberance" - Colin Thomas
"Indian All's Well gives Shakespeare an upgrade...All’s not so well and the end is yet to come in this fascinating staging" - Jerry Wasserman
"Johnna Wright and Rohit Chokhani’s adaptation of All’s Well That Ends Well feels like an important cultural moment for Bard on the Beach. It isn’t just a compelling creative choice, but a powerful recontextualization of a 400-year-old text. It also paves the way for a brilliant act of translation in Act 2" - The Georgia Straight
CBC News Features Rohit Chokhani's Work on All's Well That Ends Well
Authenticity was a driver for the play's co-director Rohit Chokhani. He also feels that his home is both in India and Canada. Although this play is firmly set in India, he hopes the audience will see themselves reflected in it.
"We as Canadians are also going through this question of identity. How do I fit in?" he says. "Theatre needs to adapt to what the Canadian identity today ... which includes you and I and all these multigenerational, immigrant families and Indigenous families." He wanted the play to feel authentic in language, so — as one would expect to see in 1946 India — both Hindi and English are spoken.
Rohit Chokhani awarded the 2018 Vancouver NOW Representation And Inclusion Award
Rohit was awarded this huge honour at the 2018 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards ceremony for encouraging the inclusion of Indigenous and diverse voices in theatre and dance, and continuing to create works of theatre that communicate South Asian perspectives to a wider audience.
“We live in a world full of cultural clashes and gender biases,” says Chokhani. “As cultural leaders, it’s our responsibility to do our best to ensure all voices and perspectives are heard. I am grateful for my work getting acknowledged and rewarded as a measure towards moving us forward in our efforts to understand each other better as humans and artists.”
He was further quoted by the Georgia Straight - Rohit expressed faith in the next generation’s firm rejection of racism and misogyny: “The future is in the hands of the millennials,” he said.
Claiming space: How Rohit Chokhani is blazing a trail for artists of colour
By Sabrina Furminger , AUGUST 30, 2017
It’s a pressing question when you’re an artist of colour, determined to break through into a mainstream theatre world that doesn’t seem to have space for you, and it’s a question that has risen in volume and frequency in the Vancouver theatre scene over the last several years...
Chokhani says his work has always been about more than himself; it’s about claiming space for his community...This year, Chokhani kicked that effort up a couple of notches by launching Project SAT, an initiative aimed at creating a network for developing, touring, producing and presenting national and international South Asian theatre projects in Canada. Meanwhile, he’ll make his long-awaited directorial debut next week at the helm of Bombay Black, as part of the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival’s Dramatic Works series.
Georgia Straight : Rohit Chokhani and Diwali in B.C. amplify South Asian voices
Partnering locally with the Cultch, the festival reaches out to wider audiences
by Janet Smith on October 3rd, 2018
One way to describe Rohit Chokhani’s approach to curation at Diwali in B.C. is, as he calls it, “finding the diversity within the diversity”.
While putting together this year’s festival, the artistic director has found performances that cover vastly different South Asian experiences. There’s a U.K. play about online extremism, an intimate play about a Vancouver Punjabi family dealing with tragedy in their homeland, and a classical-Indian-dance rendition of a Bengali myth.
But Chokhani’s work is also about a kind of cultural diplomacy—a honed mix of collaboration, networking, and communication. And that’s no big surprise...
VANCOUVER SUN / VANCOUVER PROVINCE: MONSOON CAREER FITS CHOKHANI FINE
BY STUART DERDEYN , AUGUST 9, 2018
There is a perception that Rohit Chokhani doesn’t sleep.
“If you want to step up, let’s do it,” he said. “We all live in a very interesting time with cultural differences and gender clashes, but we can’t forget that there is an underlying humanity that we all have and we can come at our differences in a caring and loving way. Having a good conversation helps to understand each other.”
“I immigrated here eight years ago and spent two years trying to do my thing, settling on a collective play at the Fringe Festival called Siddhartha: A Journey Home at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens,” he said. “It was my first thing artistically and then I got picked up as general manager at Urban Ink. From there, I went on to general manager at Touchstone Theatre and that was about the time that the discussions were ramping and amping up about inclusiveness in the local theatre.”
Seeing a chance to develop a South Asian presence in the scene, telling their stories and creating their own works, Chokhani delved into developing some vehicles. It took time. “It’s still in pretty early stages, and I have a long term vision looking ahead 10 years that is pretty wide-ranging,” he said. “I don’t feel that I really began to define myself as an artist until about five years ago when some of my curatorial vision began to take shape in events I was involved in.”
BOMBAY BLACK WINS PICK OF THE FRINGE AWARD AND IS CHOSEN AS AMONGST THE TOP 20 SHOWS TO BE ON VANCOUVER STAGES IN 2017
"This is one of the most harrowing, unsettling, and mesmerizing plays I’ve ever seen," Warner wrote in her review of this other Fringe standout, the story of a mother who pimps her daughter to dance for men, and the blind man who arrives for his appointment and upends their lives. "Ten hours after leaving the theatre, I’m still shaken by its uniquely poetic horror, and marvelling at the complexity of what acclaimed playwright Anosh Irani weaves in Bombay Black’s dense 75 minutes." Further, Bombay Black was chosen as a runners up for Georgia Straight Critics' Pick.
SHIAMAK VANCOUVER AWARDS ROHIT CHOKHANI WITH THEIR ESTEEMED COMMUNITY AWARD
We are delighted to announce that Rohit Chokhani is now the 2017 recipient of the Shiamak Vancouver Community award (By Bollywood Star Choreographer Shiamak Davar) in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of Entertainment and Theatre Arts for 2017. Rohit was delighted and humbled to receive this award from Glenn Dmello CEO of Shiamak Vancouver at the awards ceremony. In his acceptance speech Rohit urged South Asian parents to encourage and support arts as a profession for their next generations and to break barriers towards endorsing creativity at an early age.
ROHIT CHOKHANI WINS JESSIE RICHARDSON THEATRE AWARD.
We are delighted to announce this exciting news that Rohit Chokhani was awarded the prestigious Jessie Richardson Theatre Award in the Large Theatre Category for “Significant Artistic Achievement in Expanding the Diversification of Vancouver Theatre” in 2017 and was also nominated for the “Vancouver Now Representation and Inclusion Award” for his leadership in expanding the representation of cultural diversity. As of June 2018, he has been involved in various different capacities with over 30 Theatrical productions which have in total won 4 Jessie awards including 28 Jessie award nominations, won 3 Vancouver Fringe Festival awards and 4 Meta award nominations.
"It is good to see diversity being awarded and acknowledged in a category which is not just about diversity" commented Rohit Chokhani upon acceptance of his award.
DARPAN MAGAZINE: SPOTLIGHT Cultivating the Arts
By Renu Singh-Joseph, 23 Nov, 2016
Speaking with Rohit Chokhani, you can hear the passion in his voice for the cultivation of the arts, in particular the medium of theatre, and forging a path for future generations of South Asian talent. Chokhani has had a rich, diverse career from completing his masters in computer science and producing video games for popular TV shows and movies to transitioning to the arts world as an award-winning producer and cultural leader.
For the last four years, Chokhani has been the Producer for Diwali Fest, the largest Diwali-themed festival in the Lower Mainland with events spanning over six weeks. He is also the Artistic Producer for South Asian Arts Society, which strives to create performance and educational opportunities for amateur to professional artists. This past summer, Chokhani was the Apprentice Director for Bard on the Beach and assisted Director Johnna Wright for the production of ‘Merry Wives of Windsor.’
VANCOUVER SUN: Spreads the unity message of diwali
By Erika Thorkelson, October 5, 2016
Diwali Fest’s artistic producer Rohit Chokhani is an extremely busy man. In the past year he has worked as an apprentice director for Bard on the Beach’s production of Merry Wives of Windsor, spent time as a producer in residence at the National Arts Centre in Toronto, and debuted the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts alongside collaborator Gurpreet Sian.
When I catch up with him over the phone in mid-September, he’s talking at lightning speed about the slate of events for this year’s Diwali Fest. “It’s going to span over six weeks across multiple cities,” he says. “Definitely the biggest year we’ve had. This is the first time we’ve had so many theatre shows and a show for young audiences. There’s something for everybody.”
WESTENDER: WORLDS AWAY finding his path
By Kelsey Klassen, October 5, 2016
Rohit Chokhani has spent his entire career bridging different worlds. First, despite a passion for the arts, Chokhani uprooted himself from the vibrant, sweltering embrace of Mumbai for the relatively staid climes of Boston to pursue his master’s degree in computer science.
Then, seeking a more creative outlet, he transitioned a relatively dry technical degree into the design and management of video games, which brought him into contact with companies like Fox, Pixar and Disney, and rocketed him into multicultural boot camp as a project manager for teams in the US, India and China.
Then, in 2010, Chokhani decided to move from Boston to Vancouver on the encouragement of an uncle, where his career path would change entirely again. Determined to find footing in the film industry or something similar, Chokhani saved up enough money before coming to Vancouver to wait for the right opportunity. In the meantime, he volunteered, wrote his own plays, and created an arts program at his local temple.
RICEPAPER: Rohit Chokhani is a go-getter
By Karla Comanda, September 7, 2017
Charting his own path as a theatre director and producer, he strives to make space for South Asian
artists through his initiative, Project SAT (South Asian Theatre), where they can receive support and mentorship in the theatre arts.
With the premiere of Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, we spoke to the 2017 Jessie Award-winning
director about his experiences in Mumbai and Canada, his transition from computer science in theatre, and being the first Mumbai born director of Indian descent to direct Bombay Black.
GEORGIA STRAIGHT: Diwali in B.C. spotlights women in inaugural series
by Janet Smith on October 11th, 2017
After curating Diwali Fest for the past four years, Rohit Chokhani is taking on an even
bigger vision. He’s launching Diwali in B.C., a five-week cultural celebration from Thursday (October 12) to November 16 that takes South Asian–flavoured, culture-fusing theatre, dance, and other works provincewide.
The inaugural year puts the spotlight on women, with the artistic theme of Shakti, or the
power of the feminine. “I just wanted to represent people who aren’t being represented— and women are doing diverse work,” Chokhani tells the Straight by phone.
SURREY 604: A Conversation with Rohit Chokhani
By Taslim Jaffer on October 12, 2017
Mumbai-native, Rohit Chokhani, is bringing a new province-wide Diwali celebration to the streets of Metro Vancouver. The idea behind the artistic platform, Diwali in B.C. according to Chokhani, is “not to recreate the Indian celebration of Diwali but to celebrate the new year and South Asian culture in a way that is inclusive and welcoming of other cultures that represent Metro Vancouver.” He felt it important to produce something non-denominational so that anyone of any background who felt drawn to the theatre, dance and film performances could be a part of the conversation.
To read complete reviews for Bombay Black please click here: Bombay Black Reviews
To download complete press kit for Rohit Chokhani please click here : Press Kit
To read complete reviews for Diwali in BC please click here: Diwali In BC Reviews
To download complete press kit for Diwali In BC please click here: Diwali in BC press kit
To download complete press kit for Project SAT please click here: Project SAT Press kit