Sakharam Binder

October 30–November 20, 2004
IndiaU.S. Premiere
A bookbinder in a small town in India takes in a succession of women who have been cast out of their homes by their husbands.
Meet the Artists

Vijay Tendulkar was a leading Indian playwright, movie and television writer, literary essayist, political journalist, and social commentator primarily in Marāthi. His Marathi plays established him as a writer of plays with contemporary, unconventional themes. He is best known for his plays Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe (1967), Ghāshirām Kotwāl (1972), and Sakhārām Binder (1972). Many of Tendulkar's plays derived inspiration from real-life incidents or social upheavals, which provide clear light on harsh realities. He has provided guidance to students studying "play writing" in US universities. Tendulkar was a dramatist and theatre personality in Mahārāshtra for over five decades.

Maria Mileaf (Director) is based in NYC where she has directed Vijay Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder and Maria Milisavljevic’s Abyss for the Play Company; Sharon Washington’s Feeding the Dragon, Lee Blessings’ Body of Water and his Going to St. Ives at Primary Stages; Courtney Baron’s Here I Lie and Alan Zweibel’s Playing God @ 59E59; Alexandra Gersten-Vasillaros’ The Argument at The Vineyard; and Kira Obolensky’s Lobster Alice at Playwrights Horizons.

Shanta Gokhale is a writer, translator, journalist and theatre critic who was born to GG Gokhale and his wife in 1939 in Dahanu, Palghar region of Maharashtra. The Gokhale family relocated to the Shivaji Park area of Mumbai in 1941 after her father joined the newspaper Searchlight.

Adam Alexi-Malle (Actor) Adam's participation in this co-production reunites him with theater companies in both his past and present: earlier this season, he appeared in the Play Company's successful production of the American premiere of Sakharam Binder, which marked his return to the New York stage after his success in the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Titanic and The New Group's production of the American premiere of Mike Leigh's Goose-Pimples, for which he earned both Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominations. Film: Bowfinger, The Man Who Wasn't There (Joel and Ethan Coen) and Hidalgo, with television appearances on the series "24", "Alias", "The West Wing", and "The Sopranos". An equally accomplished classical violinist and pianist, Adam continues to perform as a soloist and chamber musician in concerts worldwide.

After her debut film Mississippi Masala (1991) became an art house hit, Sarita Choudhury was determined not to "go Hollywood," focusing her acting energies on independent film instead. Raised in Jamaica, Mexico, and Italy, the half-Indian, half-English Choudhury studied economics at Queens University in Ontario before switching to acting. She casually auditioned for Mississippi Masala (1991) and wound up cast as the lead opposite Denzel Washington in the singular interracial romance between a Southern African American man and a transplanted Indian woman. Despite the film's surprise success, Choudhury stuck to her non-Hollywood roots, putting her exotic looks and talent to versatile use as a Pakistani country-western singer in Wild West (1992), a Chilean maid who is raped in Bille August's adaptation of The House of the Spirits (1993), and a lesbian mother in Fresh Kill (1994). Choudhury worked with Mississippi Masala (1991) director Mira Nair again in The Perez Family (1995) and played the cuckolded queen Tara in Nair's frankly-sensual feminist parable Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996). By the late 1990s, Choudhury added a touch of Hollywood to her repertoire with supporting roles in the glossy Alfred Hitchcock remake, A Perfect Murder (1998) and the John Cassavetes retread Gloria (1999).

Anna George (Actor) Off Broadway: Sakharam Binder (The Play Company at 59E59 Theatres), O'Neill's Abortion/The End of the Apurnas (Theatre Row Theatre), Dust (HereArts Theater). Upcoming films: Syriana, David and Layla and Confess. Television credits include "Law and Order: Trial by Jury", "Sex and the City", "The Jury", and "Law and Order: SVU". Anna hold a BA from Wellesley College and her Master's from Columbia University.

Actor Bernard White is recognizable from his work in over 30 feature films. White just wrapped a lead role in Quarantine (2008). Memorable roles include "Agha Babur" in American Dreamz (2006), and "Rama-Kandra" in The Matrix Reloaded (2003), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). White also starred with Michelle Williams and John Diehl in Wim Wenders's Land of Plenty (2004).
Onstage, he starred in "The Seven" at The La Jolla Playhouse in February and March of this year. Last summer, he starred in a main stage production of "Blithe Spirit" at The Williamstown Theatre Festival with Wendie Malick, Jessica Hecht and Adriane Lenox. Prior to that, White starred in Ola Mafalani's theatrical production of "Wings of Desire" at A.R.T,, and toured Europe with the original production. In winter of 2006, White co-starred in an off-Broadway production of "Landscape of The Body", along with Lili Taylor. He was seen the previous year at Williamstown in "Lucy And The Conquest". White garnered praise for his comedic skills in Garry Marshall Raising Helen (2004) and the independent film Dream (2005). Other film credits include The Scorpion King (2002), Pay It Forward (2000), City of Angels (1998), Strange Days (1995), and a host of independent films, including Killing Obsession (1994), Pain Within (2007), The World Unseen (2007), with Sheetal Sheth and Lisa Ray, and a multi award-winning short "American Made". A familiar face to TV viewers, White has recurred on some of television's hottest series: 24 (2001), The West Wing (1999), JAG (1995) and Alias (2001). Recent television guest-star roles include: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008), CSI: Miami (2002), ER (1994), The Unit (2006), Heartland (2007), and E-Ring (2005). In fall of 2005, White played the title role in Sakharam Binder, for New York City's The Play Company. An acclaimed stage actor, White also played the title character in Joseph Papp's "The Death Of Garcia Lorca", at The Public. He has starred in "Dogeaters" at The La Jolla Playhouse, "A Perfect Ganesh" at The Odyssey, and "Queen of The Remote Control" at East West Players. Award-winning solo performances include "Where She Went, and as John In "The Hill Country".
In 2001, White stepped behind the camera to direct his first film, The Want (2001), which he also wrote. In addition, White has penned several screenplays, and a multitude of stage plays, many of which were produced in Los Angeles. He also founded 'Plymouth', a flourishing experimental theatre company in Hollywood. He had a regular role in the syndicated series Dragnet (1989). He began his career on daytime television with contract roles on General Hospital (1963), Santa Barbara (1984) and Days of Our Lives (1965).
White, an American citizen, was born in Sri Lanka, raised in Detroit, and graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from Michigan State. He divides his time between LA and New York City.

Antje Ellermann (Set Designer) has designed sets for The Play Company’s production of “Trust” directed by Erica Schmidt. Other designs include:”Nine Parts of Desire” (Manhattan Ensemble Theatre, “The Cook”  (INTAR), “The Medium” (Great Music For a Great City at the Kaye Playhouse), Barab Times Two (NY Chamber Opera at Symphony Space) “Journey Theatre” ( Immigrants’ Theatre Project & Safe Horizon/ Solace),”Drizzle” (Ma-Yi),“When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba” (Cherry Lane),“Hesh” ( The Naked Angels) and sets and costumes for “Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen” (New York Fringe Festival; Overall Excellence Award). She is a resident designer for Imua! Theatre Company, where she recently designed “The Greeks”. TV design credits include “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” with John Barton and “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience on PBS for which she received a 2003 Emmy nomination. Antje is a Recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers.

Katherine Roth (Costume Designer) New York credits: Sore Throats at Theatre for a New Audience, The Sugar Syndrome at Williamstown, The Argument at the Vineyard Theatre, Sakharam Binder, M. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran at the Play Company, Happy Days at Cherry Lane, Breath, Boom at Playwrights' Horizons, Trestle at Pope Lick Creek at New York Theater Workshop, Hard Feelings, The Chemistry of Change at the Women’s Project, Model Apartment at Primary Stages. Regional theatre: George Street Playhouse, Huntington Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, California Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Rep, Center Stage, South Coast Rep, Magic Theatre. Film/TV: Exiles in New York, Associate Costume Designer, All My Children.

Nicole Pearce (Lighting Designer) is a multidisciplinary artist living in Queens, NY. Her work has been seen across the United States, Cuba, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, New Zealand, and Russia. Recent works include The Look of Love choreographed by Mark Morris with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Catch Me If You Can Directed by Molly Smith with Arena Stage, and Children’s Songs by Choreographed by Jessica Lang with American Ballet Theatre. Her installation of 1,000 paintings entitled Tiny Paintings for Big Hearts is open to doctors, nurses, staff, and patients of Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, NY.

Bart Fasbender (Sound Design) Recent/current designs: Slag Heap, Women on Fire and 2003 – 2005 Mentor Projects at Cherry Lane; Boozy at The Culture Project (previously at The Ohio); Reasons for Return at Symphony Space and Are We Here Yet at Tribeca PAC for MoCo; Barbara Bush Never Slept Here, Gheri Dosti and William Hoffman's Shoe Palace Murray at Bernie West Theatre for Circle East; Trust at The Kirk and Sakharam Binder at 59E59 for The Play Company; Legal Snarls, Mark Medoff's Same Life Over and Lakawana Rails Radio Plays for TNT in PA, Pen Pals, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's Woman of Independent Means and Joanna's Husband and David's Wife at PPT in VA.

This play centers on Sakharam, a bookbinder in a small town in India, who takes in a succession of women who have been cast out of their homes by their husbands. In exchange for domestic services and companionship, he offers them food, shelter and living essentials. Brahmin by birth, Sakharam fiercely opposes the hypocrisy he sees in the institution of marriage and practices an alternative arrangement in his home. Though he takes great pride in the forthright nature of his systematic unions, he and the women ultimately find themselves overpowered by the potent and sometimes violent force of sexuality. This landmark play by one of India’s most eminent writers was banned after it debuted in 1974, as it explores the darkest corners of human nature. This production is the centerpiece of the New York’s current Tendulkar Festival sponsored by the Indo-American Arts Council.

“As directed by Maria Mileaf…and with a terrific cast to give Tendulkar’s character a vivid stage life, this American premiere has enough elements in place to make it worth seeing.”

“These are larger-than-life characters, and Tendulkar fills his play with their desires, passions, loves, and fears. It makes for the kind of drama we seldom see on stage anymore…”

Written by

Vijay Tendulkar

Translated by

Kumud Mehta and Shanta Gokhale

Directed by

Maria Mileaf


Adam Alexi-Malle Sarita Choudhury Anna George Sanjiv Jhaveri Bernard White

Set Design

Antje Ellermann

Costume Design

Katherine Roth

Lighting Design

Nicole Pearce

Sound Design

Bart Fasbender

Fight Director

David Debesse

Stage Manager

Brian Maschka


59E59 Theaters 59 East 59th Street New York, NY