Just before I spoke by phone Friday to Anu Yadav—the smile-inducing lead of No Rules Theater Company’s excellent current production, In Love and Warcraft, at Signature Theater in Arlington—she received another call.
“It was a woman who saw Meena’s Dream last year and wanted to tell me how much she felt connected to it,” said Yadav, speaking about her critically praised, one-woman show she performed before sellout crowds at Forum Theatre last year. “She mentioned the Worry Machine [a strong image in the show] and wrestling with self-doubt, and this was a year ago!”
Yadav can have that effect. In “Warcraft,” she plays a college woman who earns money as a digital Cyrano for those less gifted with words. She’s also quite the gamer. The problem is that in real life, she’s yet to experience any real feelings—a condition she must confront as a hunky customer invades her world. It takes a combo of naivete, charm and put-on-your-big-girl-pants—or in this case eventually take off—to make the play work.
“It’s great to be part of this group, an ensemble working together,” she said, contrasting this with her one-woman show. Yadav became involved in the production when the Kennedy Center gave playwright Madhuri Shekar an award through Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre to develop it. Shirley Serotsky—Theater J’s acting artistic director and the director of Round House’s upcoming Rapture, Blister, Burn (which ArtHouse meetup will be seeing Jan. 28)—asked her to be part of the reading, and then No Rules committed to producing it. She auditioned for director Joshua Morgan—yes the same one I raved about running Arena Stage’s Piano Bar—got the role and pushed back her impending move to Los Angeles.
I know, the move. Bad for us, great for her. But she will stay busy in her last month here. Warcraft has more shows tonight—just $15 on Goldstar—and then Thursday through Sunday including a Cosplay parade and contest Saturday afternoon. Also, this Tuesday night at Studio Theater Yadav will be represented in an all-star lineup of local female playwrights who contributed short works for Out Of Silence: Abortion Stories From the 1 in 3 Campaign. It’s a project for Advocates for Youth and will also include a reception and discussion.
Yadav will also give a special class for students at Georgetown today and then a short residency at Wellesley College next month, where she will perform Meena’s Dream on Feb. 12. In March she will repeat the performance at a Los Angeles women’s festival and still has hopes to tour it nationally. She will return to DC in April (yay!) to perform at the Atlas Theater.
Curiously, Yadav hasn’t acted here as much, for a couple reasons. She’s shy to audition a lot, preferring to do her own work. She’s also “angry about racism and sexism [and] didn’t see roles for me. There are limited roles for women of color. I try to channel all that to my own stuff. But it’s good to take risks to collaborate with other artists.”
Yadav also has strong feelings on how hard it is for an artist to make a living. “[I wish we could] bring these artists affordable places to live,” she said. The high cost “pushes artists out and brings people in with more money. It would be great if development would include everybody.”
In Los Angeles, she plans to get more involved in film. When asked how to focus when you’re so talented in many areas, I’m sure she blushed but said, “I need to figure that out. I’m mindful of that, excited by work and easily distracted. I am pacing myself a little more than in the past…It’s easy to get stuck on what I’m doing and think I’m not doing enough. But then I think where I’ve performed—Princeton, Scranton, New York, this showcase and that—and then I’m like, ‘Wow, maybe I am doing a lot.’ And I should be proud of that.”
Indeed she should. Yadav wants to have a big Goodbye DC party in February. I’m hoping the ArtHouse can help.