A theatrical production described as “provocative and audacious” will be staged in two parts at Surrey Arts Centre as part of this month’s Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts.
Anita Majumdar’s one-person The Fish Eyes Trilogy offers a window into the lives of South Asian-Canadian teens who attend the same high school in Port Moody.
“Through this lens, Anita focuses on universal themes of identity, cultural heritage, and finding one’s place in the world,” says a post on the city’s event website.
The play follows three characters — Naznin, Candice and Meena — who separately share a passion for dance and a struggle for identity within their families and at school. Their lives intersect and cultures collide.
Although the trilogy isn’t a dance performance, “dance is integral to way these young women tell their stories.”
The show, to be performed in Surrey on Saturday, Aug. 18, comes with an audience advisory for mature themes, including a “trigger warning” for description of a sexual assault, and strong language.
It’s written, choreographed and performed by Majumdar in a two-part presentation that starts at 4 p.m. and resumes at 7:30 p.m. One of the four ticket options includes a buffet dinner that will allow patrons to “chat with other theatre-goers while enjoying Indian cuisine in a banquet setting.”
Part 1 of The Fish Eyes Trilogy covers first two sections of the story, and Part 2 covers the final one.
First up, in a section called “Boys With Cars,” a classically trained Indian dancer named Naznin dreams of leaving the suburbs for university and the bright lights of the city with her boyfriend, Lucky Punjabi, by her side. Then she has a collision with the school’s power couple, Buddy and Candice. Nasty rumours spread, and the consequences threaten to upend Naz’s life.
Next, “Let Me Borrow That Top” offers a “bold and wildly funny take on teenage obsessions,” involving Naz’s blonde-haired, blue-eyed nemesis. In the style of “a YouTube makeup tutorial, Candice—who is into henna tattoos and bhangra—gives us her take on Lucky and Buddy and how they ensnare both her and Naz,” according to a description of the show.
The final-part “Fish Eyes” section focuses on Meena, who wants to be like the rest of her high-school friends, despite an obsession with Bollywood movies and her dance career.
“When she develops a massive crush on the most popular guy at school, she finds herself having to make some important trade-offs that put her at odds with her culture. From a life-changing school assembly in which Meena and Candice dance to Beyonce’s ‘Survivor’ to the all-important end-of-year grad dance, this story brings the trilogy to a powerful and beautiful conclusion.”
The Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, now in its third year, is presented by South Asian Arts Society and is co-produced by Gurpreet Sian and Rohit Chokhani.
The Fish Eyes Trilogy is one of the festival’s two feature presentations. The other is The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson, which revisits the 1914 trial of Mewa Singh, who must answer for the assassination of a prominent Canadian immigration inspector.
“Along with being the closing chapter of the infamous Komagata Maru story, the assassination of Inspector Hopkinson was the culmination of a simultaneous transnational struggle seeking independence for colonized British India, and a struggle for civil rights for South Asians living on the West Coast of North America,” reads a description of the play at monsoonartsfest.ca.
“An unexpected defense from Mewa Singh’s attorney takes the proceedings from an open-and-shut case, to a surreal debate of conscience. Drawing inspiration from historical events and documents, The Undocumented Trial blurs the lines of reality in narrative and aesthetic to create an analytical historical dialogue to explore political, sociocultural, and humanistic themes. The story of Mewa Singh isn’t just Sikh history, it is Canadian history.
From Aug. 10 to 12, the play will be staged at Vancouver Art Gallery, the building where the original trial took place more than a century ago when it was home to Vancouver Provincial Courthouse.
The festival will also include an Industry Series featuring readings, development workshops in dramaturgy, playwriting, directing, acting, movement, and post-show talkbacks.
In Surrey, tickets for The Fish Eyes Trilogy are available at tickets.surrey.ca, or call 604-501-5566.