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Belfry brings social issues to light during SPARK fest

March 4, 2015 by Rebecca Davies, contributing writer

The 2015 SPARK Festival is presenting a blend of performances celebrating wild inhibition, the Canadian dual identity, and the mockery of the yoga and health industry. The goal is to showcase theatre pieces that are ahead of the curve, and playwright/dancer Anita Majumdar cannot be further from it in her performances Let Me Borrow That Top and Boys with Cars, sequels to her long-standing play, Fish Eyes.

“The theme with these plays is there is a crisis point where each protagonist hits their version of rock bottom, and it’s their responsibility to pick themselves back up using their own self-strengths and skill sets,” says Majumdar. “Somehow Indian dance is always tied in to that devotion to picking yourself back up. That is what I think makes this trilogy unique, having Indian dance woven into these three women’s lives and their stories.”

Anita Majumdar believes the way to change patriarchy is dialogue (photo provided).

 

The more Majumdar discloses about her inspirations the more layers unfold. The idea for Boys with Cars stemmed from the media’s focus on religion and culture instead of the real issue, when talking about honour killings.

“The issue isn’t Islam, it isn’t being from India, or South Asia, the issue is patriarchy,” says Majumdar. “I wanted to be able to showcase the preference for male honour over women’s within a secular community, and so I placed it in high school.”

Majumdar believes that the way to change the patriarchal views of society is through dialogue, and she transforms the language of intricate Indian dance to tell the tales of three teenage girls facing relatable struggles of not fitting in.

“This country doesn’t belong to any of us, except for the Aboriginal communities, and so we forget that a part of our Canadian identity is actually of the immigrant experience,” she says. “It’s actually the Canadian experience to feel like you don’t fit in.”

Majumdar says she’s thrilled to be playing in Victoria once again, as she has a close relationship with the Belfry Theatre.

“When I went to the Belfry two years ago, I felt like I was done with theatre. But the Belfry, everyone at the Belfry, the space itself… part of my experience performing Fish Eyes there resuscitated my love of theatre,” she says.

But Majumdar isn’t the only act at this year’s SPARK Festival. Through the Gaze of a Navel, performed by Emelia Symington Fedy, is a reflection on the yoga and self-help industries. Fedy directs a yoga class where the audience may participate if they want, and she brings her own unique brand of odd humour to the interactive performance.

Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman is hosting a rock ‘n’ roll cabaret in his performance of The God That Comes, an extravagant interpretation of Greco-Roman mythology and the god Bacchus. Any performance that has a strobe light and stage haze warning is sure to be thrilling.

When asked to describe Workman’s play, Belfry artistic director Michael Shamata was almost at a loss for words.

“They kind of let loose with drink and sexual inhibition, and they take the lid off of the place,” he says, chuckling to himself. “It’s a great rock concert with a story to it.”

In addition to those main feature presentations, the Belfry will be showcasing 10-minute mini-plays that riff off of Theatre Skam performances to honour the company’s 20th anniversary.

These shorter shows will be held in non-traditional spaces such as courtyards, offices, and closets before the feature presentations, which Shamata says helps to bring an energetic “buzz” to the SPARK Festival.

SPARK Festival
March 16-30
Free-$36, Belfry Theatre
belfry.bc.ca/spark-2015

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