House of Joy

2019 Past Production — See our 2020 Season!​​


 “…reminds one of the cheeky badass vibe of ‘Black Panther.’”

— Karen D'Souza, Bay Area News Group

east bay express

“immensely funny”

— Lou Fancher, East Bay Express

“Glimmering adventure story.”

— Emily Mendel, Berkeleyside



RUN TIME: Approx. 2 hours

INTERMISSION: One 15 minute

TYPE: Comedy, Action-adventure, Romance

GROVE TALKS: 45 mins pre-show

WARNINGS:  References to domestic violence, on stage fighting, sexual innuendo, some strong language, and some flashing lights (no strobe). 

Paradise isn't all it's cracked up to be.

House of Joy
by Madhuri Shekar
directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
August 14-September 1

A darling of the 2018 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, House of Joy is an action-adventure romance set in a harem at the beginning of the end of the Mughal Empire. Once upon a time and place, in something like 17th century Delhi, an imperial bodyguard risks her life to fight for what’s right, turning against everything she’s been raised to believe.

House of Joy was developed at the 2018 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, a program of the Playwrights Foundation, Amy L. Mueller, Artistic Director.


Sango Tajima

(Roshni)Sango Tajima is an Oakland-based artist happy to be making her Cal Shakes debut. Recent credits include Metamorphoses (Berkeley Rep & Guthrie Theater); Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Shotgun Players); In Braunau (SF Playhouse Sandbox Series); The Wolves, Shakespeare in Love, The Jungle Book (Marin Theatre Company). OTHER Member of The Bonfire Makers, a political theater collective. TRAINING B.F.A., University of Michigan (she/her)


Madhuri Shekar

(Playwright) Madhuri’s plays have been produced internationally and across the U.S., and she is thrilled for House of Joy to have its world premiere at Cal Shakes. Her other plays include In Love and Warcraft, A Nice Indian Boy, Queen, Bucket of Blessings and Dhaba on Devon Avenue (premiering at Victory Gardens next spring. Her first audio play Evil Eye is available now on, and debuted on their best-seller list in May 2019. She is an alumna of the Juilliard playwriting program, and a staff writer for the new HBO show The Nevers, created by Joss Whedon. (she/her) @madplays

Oana Botez

(Costume Designer) LCT: In the Green, Bull in a China Shop, Luck of the Irish (LCT3). Off-Broadway: Pearl; Hamlet, Richard II, Richard III, An Oresteia, The Tempest (CSC); Love's Labour's Lost (The Public); Love in the Wars, Master and Margarita (Bard Summerscape); A House in Bali, texts&beheadings/ElizabethR, Alan Smithee Directed This Play, Supernatural Wife (BAM). Regional: Macbeth (Old Globe); In The Next Room or the vibrator play; Angels in America I & II (Wilma); Man in a Case (Hartford).

Vidhu Singh

(Dramaturg) Vidhu Singh holds an MA in Dramatic Art from UC Santa Barbara and a PhD in Asian Theatre from UH Manoa. As founder of RasaNova Theater, she has brought bold new plays from across the world to the Bay Area and engages local audiences with diverse storytelling. A graduate of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Vidhu is a founding member of World Wide Lab—an international directors’ collective, a resident artist at Brava Theater, and core member of Theatre without Borders. (she/her)

Leslie M. Radin

(Stage Manager) Leslie (she/her) is delighted to return to Cal Shakes after stage managing Fences in 2016. She has also worked at A.C.T., Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Center Rep, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare. She traveled with Berkeley Rep productions to the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the New Victory Theater in New York. Her favorite past productions include Angels in America, Aubergine, Wittenberg, Sisters Matsumoto, The Great Leap, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), and The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Arshan Gailus

(Original Music & Sound Design) Arshan’s music and soundscapes have been heard at ArtsEmerson, The Huntington Theatre Company, Shakespeare & Company, The Guthrie, Capital Rep, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, A.R.T Institute, The Lyric Stage Company, New Repertory Theater, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Harvard, Brandeis, The Nora Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, The Gloucester Stage Company, and Company One. B.S. in Music from MIT. (he/him)

Dave Maier

(Resident Fight Director) Dave is in his 14th season as the resident fight director with Cal Shakes. His work has been seen at ACT, Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre, SF Playhouse, Berkeley Playhouse, Center Rep, Marin Theatre, and Shotgun Players. 2018 TBA award: outstanding fight choreography, Quixote Nuevo. Master Fight Director and Senior Instructor with Dueling Arts International.

Julia Formanek

(Production Assistant) Julia (she/her) is excited to return to Cal Shakes for her second season where she previously worked on Everybody and As You Like It. Her other regional credits include Wink, Jazz, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Oslo (Marin Theatre Company), Widower’s Houses (Aurora), The Obligation (Potrero Stage), and Measure for Measure (Santa Cruz Shakespeare.) She graduated from Beloit College with a BA in Theatre Production.

House of Joy Program

Flip through the program before you go, or even on your phone at the show.  Hit the enlarge button to see our program full-screen.  You can even see our past programs!


all photos: Cal Shakes’ 2019 House of Joy, by Kevin Berne

Cal Shakes’ New Classic Initiative is made possible through the generous support of:

Learn more about our New Classics Initiative!

mellon foundation
MCJ Amelior Foundation
Theatre Communications Group

presenting partners

meyer sound

season partners

city national bank
peet's coffee

season underwriters

James Irvine Foundation
Lesher Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Osher Foundation
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