SHSU theatre faculty member, Ron Song Destro is a playwright who uses his productions as informative tools in conveying real issues.
“I tend to write plays about important issues in the world,” said Destro.
Destro has been an actor and a playwright since he was seven years of age and was encouraged by his teachers to continue. Several accomplishments later Destro brings “Indira’s Daughter” to the main stage of the UTC.
“Daughters” offers a distinctive insight into the differences in the lives of American and Indian couples living in New Delhi.
In Indian culture, men are allowed to continue to make dowry demands on their wife’s families. These demands include things like appliances and money, and after the family has no more to give the man, he seeks a new wife and dowry.
Instead of going through the disgrace of divorce, some men find it easier to burn their wives in stoves. In the culture, custom is above the law and police generally turn a blind eye to the incidents.
“I hoping to let people know what’s happening in parts of the world that we don’t hear abut. I think these things are relevant today because of the rise of fundamentalism around the world.”
When “Daughters” was originally performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, it featured actors that went on to star on popular television shows and in major motion pictures. Some of the actors include: Diane Venora (F/X, Heat), Peri Gilpin (Frasier) and Allison Janney (West Wing).
Since the play was originally performed in 1980, the dowry burnings have gotten worst, and estimates place the number of deaths in 25,000. Domestic violence against women didn’t become a crime punishable by law until 1983.
“Daughters” is not the first production that Destro has written. His plays have been performed in New York, London, Shanghai and throughout the United States.
His play about China’s Cultural Revolution, “The Children of the Chairman” has been produced by Texas A&M University. Destro says that it’s often easier to direct his own plays but is intrigued by the spin that different directors put to his work.
“Sometimes its more interesting to have someone else direct your work,” said Destro. “It brings things you may have never thought of.”
Destro is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, created an Emmy award winner and received critical acclaim for his play, “Hiroshima.” “Hiroshima” won the 1997 Kennedy Center New American Play award and allowed Destro to collaborate with Yoko Ono.
In addition to directing, writing and acting, Destro has trained with artists from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Shanghai Opera Theatre.
Destro’s short play, “Subway Stops” will be presented as part of the Theatre and Dance Department’s Experimental Theatre Program on April 27 & 28 in the UTC main stage.
“Indira’s Daughters” is showing April 25 at 8 p.m. The show is free and is a staged reading of the production.
“It’s for people who are ready for something serious. It’s not just about India; it’s about all cultures,” said Destro.