Mathison Screenplay Reading: ‘Theory of Colors’

On Tuesday, February 6, in lower Manhattan, HamptonsFilm presented a screenplay reading of selected scenes from our 2023 Melissa Mathison Award recipient Shehrezad Maher’s Theory of Colors.

Thank you to the fantastic cast (see below), to Stephanie Klapper for casting them, and to all who joined us! We look forward to our 24th Annual Screenwriters Lab, April 5-7.

Shehrezad Maher received the Melissa Mathison Award, established in 2016 and named for the late Hollywood screenwriter of the iconic film E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL. The Award ​supports HIFF’s annual Screenwriters Lab, and in particular, is instrumental in ensuring that female voices are showcased.​ ​This reading is a direct result of receiving this fund, and will take Shehrezad one step further in her film’s production. Support women in film with a donation.

Read more about the project and the cast below.


During preparations to sell their home where a tragic loss occurred many years ago, a disaffected teenager tries to reconstruct her past while an unlikely memory shadows her father. As one pursues and another flees closure, continuing as spectators of their own lives becomes increasingly untenable.

Screenwriter: Shehrezad Maher
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Shehrezad Maher has screened her films at institutions and festivals such as Visions du Réel, RIDM, the LA Film Forum, Anthology Film Archives, UnionDocs, and Experiments in Cinema. She was awarded a 2023 Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and won the 2023 Islamic Scholarship Fund’s National Film Grant for her narrative short script, “The Curfew.” Her feature film script, “Theory of Colors,” received the Cinestory Feature Retreat’s Hagan Hicks Underrepresented Women’s Voices Scholarship. Her work has been reviewed by publications such as Sight & Sound, Afterimage, POV Magazine, and Scroll, among others. She studied visual arts at Bennington College and earned an MFA from Yale University, where she was awarded the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize.


Shravan is an energy markets consultant-turned actor and comedian (long story). He is based in New York and you can catch him on The Other Two, Ozark, and a slapstick football promo for CBS this playoff season. He regularly performs improv and sketch comedy at UCB and the PIT. His stage experience includes over 20 professional theatre productions in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Boston. While now a full-time performer, he still enjoys manipulating data in Microsoft Excel and drafting presentations in PowerPoint.

Rajesh Bose (OMAR)
In addition to a variety of television and film credits,  Rajesh has performed on and off-Broadway and throughout the country—favorites include Life Of Pi on Broadway and A.R.T., This Much I Know (Aurora Theatre), three productions at Bedlam Theatre (Persuasion, The Crucible, and Pygmalion), Henry VI (NAATCO), Indian Ink (Roundabout), King Lear (Northern Stage), Oslo (St. Louis Rep), Mary Stuart (Folger Theatre), Guards at the Taj (Capital Stage), and Disgraced (Playmakers Rep, Huntington Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre–Connecticut Critics Circle Award, IRNE Nomination). Recent television appearances include guest starring rolls on Bull, Law & Order: Organized Crime, Quantico, and Blue Bloods.

Nadira Foster-Williams (NIA/NAOMI/TV WOMAN V.O.)
Nadira Foster-Williams’s acting career was catalyzed by her winning a full scholarship at the historical Susan Batson Studio, on which she remained for 3 years. She then completed the William Esper two-year program with Acting Coach Barbara Marchant. This education has granted Nadira the mastery of her instrument in the realms of surrealism, drama and comedy, and as a result, she has been seen for iconic roles in TV and Film. Winner: 2018 Best Actress Award in the Windy City Film Festival. Nadira began her life’s calling as an actress, writer, and multi-medium artist in the void between the quiet suburbs and bestirring urban pavements of Plainfield and Newark, New Jersey and Crown Heights, Brooklyn. A lifelong child, dreamer, and professional powerhouse with an awesome penchant for intimate detail, Nadira can best be understood by her name, which in its pure Arabic root means “rare and unusual gift.”

Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird. Broadway National Tours: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse, both for the National Theatre of Great Britain. Regional/ Off Broadway: Macbeth (w/Frances McDormand, Berkeley Rep), Orpheus Descending (w Maggie Siff, Theatre for a New Audience), and others. Film/TV: WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU, The Punisher, FBI, Law and Order: SVU, Madam Secretary (recurring), The Blacklist and others.

Salwa is a Bengali–American actress based in New York. She has appeared in several network television shows, including God Friended Me, Bull, and New Amsterdam. She recently wrote and produced a short film WHEN YOU ARE READY, which has been nominated for best short at the Triborough Film Festival. Salwa is very excited to be part of this production at the Hamptons Film Festival. She works part-time as an ER pediatrician. She loves hanging out with family, her cat Eboo, and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Salma Qarnain (NARRATOR) photo credit: Nogen Beck
Salma Qarnain is a versatile Pakistani-American actor who, in a previous life, was a rocket scientist. She made her Broadway debut in the Tony®- and Olivier Award-winning Life of Pi. She is a two-time Helen Hayes Award recipient, an AUDELCO nominee, and an award-winning theater and film producer. She is currently deep in producing her first full length feature.

She has performed across major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, HBO Max, Hulu, Showtime), regionally, Off-Broadway, and Off West End. Most recently, she produced the 2023 Oscar-qualified short film, SILENT PARTNER (21 festivals / 4 Oscar qualifiers; 8 awards / nominations), and SPEAK UP BROTHA!, which premiered at the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival. Selected credits: Bars and Measures (Off-Broadway); Acquittal (Off-Broadway); Rain + Zoe Save the World (Off West End); That Damn Michael Che (RECUR, HBO Max); FBI (CBS); The Blacklist (NBC); Law & Order: SVU (NBC); For Life (ABC). Graduate of Stanford, MIT, Harvard Business School. Proud member of SAG•AFTRA, AEA, Equity.

Anuka Sethi (AIDA)
Anuka Sethi is an India-born, Dubai-raised, and New York City-based actor, producer and model. She is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch, where she earned a BFA in Drama with training from Playwrights Horizons and Stonestreet Studios. Since she grew up a TCK (third culture kid), Anuka has used her multihyphenates as a way to connect with her roots and is passionate about creating work and space for South Asian artists. Currently Artist in Residence at Live & In Color. Recent acting credits include I Got to the Other Side of the Moon (The Wild Project), immersive musical Love Around The Block (Dave Malloy) and award-winning short film HIDE & SEEK (premiered at the London Indian Film Festival as part of the prestigious Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition in June 2022). She is also a proud Nine Muses Lab alumni, where she worked directly under founder Bryce Dallas Howard. @anuka.sethi

Stephanie Klapper: Casting Director
Stephanie Klapper (Stephanie Klapper Casting) is a New York-based, award-winning casting director whose work is frequently seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, internationally, on television, film, and on many streaming platforms. Select recent projects include: Fun Home (10th Anniversary Concert – Additional Casting/dir. Sam Gold/Joe’s Pub); The Night of the Iguana (dir. Emily Mann/Signature Center); Our Class (Igor Golyak/BAM Fisher Theatre); Dig (Theresa Rebeck/Primary Stages). Select Film/TV: Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville Anniversary Tour Concert Video (dir. Kevin Newbury); Ranked, The Musical, HBO Documentary (Break-Thru films); Nubile (Donna DiNovelli/Kevin Newbury); Stag (Donna DiNovelli/Kevin Newbury); The Standby (Rob Gomes); Less Than or Equal To (Fair Housing Justice Center); Netuser (with Denis O’Hare); EPIPHANY V (short film); Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior; Alice Jacobs is Dead (Adrienne Barbeau); The Feast of the Goat (Isabella Rossellini); Uncertain Terms; Altamont Now!; Sidewalk Stories; Roberta; “V”/Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising, the video. Television: Lazytown; Audio movie: ElfQuest.

She is a frequent guest teacher and lecturer at many colleges and universities around the country, and a Graduate of SUNY College at Purchase. Preliminary Judge: The Jimmy Awards. Board Member: Casting Society Cares. Ms. Klapper is passionate about arts education and working with creative teams to develop new work and expand the scope of established work. She and her team are dedicated to continuing to expand and champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business. Connecting creative, caring people to each other to make extraordinary things happen is amongst Stephanie’s greatest joys. She loves working with emerging artists to help them develop their careers. @stephanieklappercasting

The annual HamptonsFilm Screenwriters Lab, celebrating 24 years in 2024 (April 5-7), pairs emerging screenwriters with established screenwriters, directors and producers for a collaborative weekend of one-on-one mentoring sessions each spring in the Hamptons.