Anu Bhatt’s one-woman show is a poignant story of healing

Photo credit: Crimson Cat Studios

It was in the fall of 2017 that Anu Bhatt wrote “Hollow/Wave” to empower survivors, especially South Asian women. An autobiographical story of survival and healing, Bhatt told India Abroad that through her one-woman show, which incorporates a combination of theater, Bharatnatyam and stand-up, she is reclaiming her space and her story and empowering others to do the same. 

“There is a culture of silence in the South Asian community that leads to discomfort around topics such as sexual abuse, depression and even body image,” Bhatt, an actor, dancer and playwright from San Diego, California, said. “That needs to change.”

And through “Hollow/Wave,” Bhatt is aiming to do just that.

Later this month, Bhatt is bringing her show to New York. As part of the 10th Annual United Solo Theatre Festival, “Hollow/Wave” will be staged on Oct. 29 at 7:30 pm at The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row in Manhattan.

Herself a survivor of sexual abuse, depression and body image, Bhatt said “Hollow/Wave,” helped her to process “the insidious nature of abuse, how it can happen anywhere, at anytime; how latent trauma can be held in a child’s body for years and years, but live side-by-side with joy; and how long and how deeply this trauma has affected me, in surprising and shocking ways.” She also wants to use the play as a means to speak to those survivors who think their trauma is not as important as others’, because it’s “not as bad.”

She also notes that by representing her story onstage, she is presenting an Asian character who is multifaceted, “and whose existence is based on her thoughts and experiences, not her skin tone.”

She hopes that as we “move into a refreshing new era of positive and accurate Asian representation, we will see more characters not defined by their ethnicity but by their courage, their ambition, and even their flaws.”

The title of Bhatt’s play is a tribute to a poem by Swami Vivekananda. The poem, “Hold On Yet Awhile, Brave Heart”, features heavily during the show, including the key line: “No winter was but summer came behind / Each hollow crests the wave / They push each other into light and shade / Be steady then and brave.” Bhatt says: “The title ‘Hollow/Wave’ refers to the up-and-down nature of life and how eventually we learn to see both ‘up’ and ‘down’ as parts of a whole, mirror images of each other, and not something to shake us or consume us,” she said.

“Hollow/Wave” had its first workshop production at Chicago’s Silk Road Rising in May 2018 and has since started touring around the country. Bhatt received her M.F.A. in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

She spent almost a decade doing theatre and on-camera in Chicago and is now relocated to San Diego.

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