top of page
California Shakespeare Theater presents


Written by Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

In director Megan Sandberg-Zakian's inspiring book, There Must Be Happy Endings, she writes, "how do I reconcile my desire for hope and possibility, connection and transformation, with an authentic witnessing of darkness and despair, hate and violence? Is it possible to be both honest and hopeful?" These are some of the questions we grappled with in House of Joy, an action-adventure romance set in a harem at the beginning of the end of the Mughal Empire. How do we tell a story about trauma and violence in a joyful empowering way?


It was incredibly empowering to to play a badass street fighter/bodyguard of Japanese descent. The dramaturgy process of tracking how a Japanese person could end becoming and Imperial bodyguard in 17th century Delhi via the Portuguese Slave Trade was fascinating and enlightening. 


Although I've worked with fight director, Dave Maier, on multiple productions, this was the most stage combat that I've ever gotten to do on a show! We trained for months on hand-to-hand combat, quarter-staff, and swords. Dave even introduced me to his fellow Dueling Arts International fight director, Satoshi Hiro, who trained me for a couple sessions in Tokyo, Japan.


“Van Lare, Tajima, and Shenoy, who trained for months with resident Fight Choreographer Dave Maier, are both fierce and graceful.”
—Elaine Elinson | 48 hills

"“House of Joy” is ultimately a must-see because of its small but incredibly powerful seven person cast."
—Daryanna Lancet | The Daily Californian


Rotimi Agbabiaka*: Salima

Raji Ahsan*: Thermometer

Rinabeth Apostol*: Mariam

Lipica Shah*: Noorah

Nandita Shenoy*: Gulal

Sango Tajima: Roshni

Emma Van Lare*: Hamida

*Member, Actors' Equity Association

Creative Team

Madhuri Shekar: Playwright

Megan Sandberg-Zakian: Director

Lawrence E. Moten III: Set Designer

Oana Botez: Costume Designer

Wen-Ling Liao: Lighting Designer
Arshan Gailus: Original Music & Sound Design

Vidhu Singh: Dramaturg

Cherie Corinne Rice: Vocal Coach

Dave Maier: Resident Fight Director

Leslie M. Radin: Stage Manager

Laxmi Kumaran*: Assistant Stage Manager

Julia Formanek: Production Assistant
Kimiya Shokri: Assistant Director

bottom of page