Dipti Bramhandkar is an Indian-American, NYC-based playwright and performer. Life hasn’t gone the way she (or her parents) planned. She is neither a cardiologist or a classical piano virtuoso despite her best efforts. However, a birthday present of a journal with a purple lock at the age of nine introduced her to her lifelong passion of writing. Her words moved from page to stage after a serendipitous theater retreat.
In 2014, Dipti’s first play, The Accident, won numerous awards at the Frigid Festival, and threw her headlong into the world of theater writing numerous short plays and developing new work. In 2019, she was invited to be a a Playwright-in-Residence at Guild Hall in East Hampton. She is also preparing her upcoming reading of her play Islands of Contentment for Labyrinth Theater Company’s Barn Series at Cherry Lane, and rehearsing her autobiographical solo show, American Rookie, for a production at Luna Stage – both in January 2020.
Dipti is a graduate of Cornell University (BA) and Cambridge University (MA) in English literature.
I grew up with the acute understanding that the notion of home is always provisional. When we drove from JFK to rural Upstate New York after arriving from Mumbai, India, we stopped at an IHOP. My mom told me that the pancakes she ordered were “sort of like dosas.” Imagine my disappointment! This moment would multiply into many moments of confronting the unknown and seeking familiarity in new places amongst new people. Everything changed: hot became cold, group became individual, Marathi became English, and so much more. When I got a journal at the age of 9, I found that writing became my stake in the ground, my defiant act of survival in this new world. Being an outsider meant that I was not held up to the same expectations of the majority culture, which has given me the opportunity to question conventions. Yet, outsider status is also an indeterminate shape that carries the risk of danger, too. While difficult in life, navigating these currents has presented many opportunities for my writing. The red thread that connects my theatrical work is the desire to create nuanced portrayals of South Asian diaspora stories, which are sorely lacking on the stage. I’m curious about what happens to an outsider when confronted with the ‘ordinary’ challenges of life (broken families, bullying, diverging romantic relationships, fertility concerns), rather than the important, but sometimes well tread epic stories of cultural difference (honor killings, arranged marriages, religious confrontations). I draw strongly from my own life in my work with the hope that I can reach audiences from the perspective of what we have in common, with a desire to reclaim a position in a society that doesn’t always treat immigrants as equal.