Indian-American Reena Dutt to direct world premiere of ‘Defenders,’ set in Iceland during WW2

Indian-American director Reena Dutt is gearing up for “Defenders,” her next play which will open on Nov. 9 at the Broadwater Black Box in Hollywood, California.

“Defenders” follows three American GIs who are shipwrecked on the remote island of Hrisey off Iceland’s northern coast. The stranded GIs find themselves with missing weapons, few supplies, and a broken radio. They realize they must rely on the locals for survival but, like current-day warfare, the locals fear the loss of their culture, their women and their safety with the presence of foreigners on their land.

“Defenders” is written by Cailin Maureen Harrison and is produced by Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company. John P. Connolly portrays Geir Stirdson; Tavis Doucette stars as Sergeant Frank McKinley; Una Eggerts plays Vigdis Geirdottir; Spencer Martin plays Private Fred LaFleur; and Bryan Porter plays Lieutenant Marcus Jansen.

Dutt was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chandler, Arizona. Her father was an engineer and her mother an artist. “Despite the stereotypes given to my childhood towns, Charlotte and Chandler, I was consistently surrounded by kindness of our American community,” Dutt writes on her website. “Our neighbors on Painted Tree Road were caring, loving people, and we truly did live the white picket fence life...because of them,” she wrote. “In Chandler, even if our neighbors were making bullets in the garage, they were also looking out for us in times of need.”

Dutt says “this is the world I grew up in. I refuse to apologize for it. When my parents came to this country with nothing, they brought with them open minds and hearts, and attracted a wealth of like minded human beings into their new life. I am a product of them, and as I self analyze, it makes sense why I gravitate to the work I do — theatre and film that challenges and celebrates the infinite circumstances of human experience.”

She trained in the Meisner Technique at the Wiliam Esper Studio in New York City with Terry Knickerbocker. She has worked with Albert Brooks, Henry Winkler, and Kelsey Grammer, to name a few.

Dutt, founder of Painted Tree Productions, and co-founder of Off-Chance Productions, is an independent producer and an alum of the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Producing Fellowship, Trans Atlantic Partners, and Film Independent’s Project Involve

Dutt’s theatre work has been seen in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She has directed at A Noise Within in conjunction with East West Players (staged reading of “Snow in Midsummer” by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig), the Road Theatre (staged reading of “Kissing Che” by Augusto Federico Amador), and Sacred Fools (staged reading of “Monkey Love” by Madhuri Shekar). She also worked as an assistant director for Jo Bonney at The Geffen Playhouse. There she worked on Jose Rivera’s world premiere of “The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona,” and Dramaleague’s Jennifer Chang on the Fountain Theatre’s Los Angeles premiere of “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo.”

In 2020 March, Dutt will stage the West Coast premiere of “Antigone,” presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s by Madhuri Shekar on the Sacred Fools stage.

Dutt also directs for film and television and has an extensive producing history. Dutt is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab (New York City), Directors Lab West (Los Angeles), and a semi finalist for Dramaleague’s Hangar Directing Fellowship. She is a graduate of the Media Arts program at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the acting program at William Esper Studio, New York.

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