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Public Obscenities

Public Obscenities

By Shayok Misha Chowdhury
Imprint: Theatre Communications Group
Paperback : 9781636702001, 144 pages, March 2024


A complex and compelling bilingual play that examines the intersections of queerness and Indian-American identity.

hen Indian-American graduate student Choton travels from the U.S. to his family’s home city of Kolkata to film interviews with the local queer community, he relishes acting as the local expert, especially in his role as interpreter between Bangla and English for his filmmaker boyfriend. Soon, though, Choton starts to question not only what he thinks he knows about queerness in India, but what both queerness and his Indian heritage mean for him. When a rediscovered roll of film reveals surprisingly intimate photographs of Choton’s austere grandfather (taken by whom?), Choton’s understanding of his family, both living and dead, starts to unravel. What follows is a mesmerizing examination of intercultural identity, asking audiences to reconsider what we mean when we call a place home.


“One can walk away from Public Obscenities having experienced it not as a story but as the everyday texture of the characters’ lives, and the thick tapestry of themes that Chowdhury weaves around them—about the difficulty of communicating and of love, about the struggles to overcome strictures of caste and gender and sexuality, about memory and loss, longing and belonging.”

- New York Theater

“It is a testament to Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s gifts as a writer that he is able to evoke as many themes, histories and possibilities as he does in Public Obscenities, and leave his audience not dazed or frustrated, but longing for even more… Chowdhury is a writer with great promise who, with Public Obscenities, may have found himself on the brink of greatness.”

- New York Times

“An absolute stunner.”

- The Wrap