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Ansu is a careful, by-the-book actor in the midst of Zoom rehearsals with a big-shot white director and an all-white cast apart from herself. She decides to address a long-standing issue of name mispronunciation with the director, Laura Peterson. Laura, overstretched and scattered, is focused on her lunch and an upcoming important call. While Ansu attempts to explain the negative effects of name mispronunciation, Laura–distracted and dismissive–tries to end the call. Ansu’s mounting frustration risks her losing a hard-won role in an exclusive cast. Will she find her voice and step into her power, or be forced to accept the status quo in order to keep her job?
Priyanka Shetty (Director, she/her) is a Philadelphia-based director, performer, and playwright. She received her M.F.A. in Acting at the University of Virginia. Directing credits include Ghost Gun: #ENOUGH’s Plays to End Gun Violence (Azuka Theatre); Made in India (Inis Nua Theatre Company); #CHARLOTTESVILLE (Live Arts, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center); AutoCorrect (Fillet of Solo, Lifeline Theatre); Chokher Bali (Kyra Theatre); My Fair Lady (Christ University); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Presidency School); Comic Timing (Rangashankara, Short+Sweet Festival) and A Scandal in Bohemia (Jagriti Theatre, Short + Sweet Festival) among others.
Priyanka is the writer-performer of two solo shows The Elephant in the Room (The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Yale University, Keegan Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, CATCO/Evolution Theatre) and #CHARLOTTESVILLE (The Abbey Theatre of Dublin). She was also Co-adaptor and Cultural Consultant for The Little Princess (Quintessence Theatre) and is currently working on her new play inspired by the works of P.G. Wodehouse and Fry & Laurie titled Marjorie is Dead and the third solo show in her triptych The Wall.
AutoCorrect is an entirely relatable and necessary story to tell right now. The Asian-American community is experiencing an uptick in violence at this time, and aggressions toward Asian-Americans serve one purpose: to put us in a box named “Other”. This film shows us how identity is complex and layered. Ansu’s conflict is really an inner conflict that many South Asian- and Asian-Americans will understand: if America has “otherized” my name, where do I really belong?
I wrote this short film through the Make It! class at The BGB Studio (LA) in Fall 2020. I could not have made this film without the help of the class, instructors and weeks of supportive and constructive feedback. Coincidentally and rather comically, the class itself created the conditions for this concept: I preemptively changed my Zoom name to a phonetic pronunciation to avoid mispronunciation, but had to correct classmates and instructors all 10 weeks of the class.
They say there’s a first time for everything, so I decided I’d cram in about four firsts: writing my first short film, acting in my first short film, co-directing my first short film, and editing my first short film. Due to COVID, Priyanka and I have never met in person, but we worked seamlessly together across three time zones. I chose Priyanka because she is a skilled solo performer, writer and actor herself. I watched her direction of Made in India (Zoom, Inis Nua Theatre Company) which was masterful in its storytelling with limited time and environment. I knew she would be the right choice as co-director, and she brought fantastic and comedic ideas to the shoot.
I know that many audience members will relate to AutoCorrect, and I hope they feel encouraged to use their voice as they embrace their individual identities. Identity, to me, is a complex cake, but it comes down to the most basic ingredient: being true to yourself.
–Anu Bhatt, Co-Director, Writer, Actor & Editor