Biography

My name is Shaista Latif and I am a Queer Afghan-Canadian artist, writer and facilitator. I am a self taught artist who enjoys working in many different mediums. My works:  The Archivist, Graceful Rebellions, How I Learned to Serve Tea & Kabul Punk have been actively presented in Canada by festivals and platforms like Ontario Scene, SummerWorks, Halifax Queer Acts and Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project.

 

I am currently an Artist in Residence at STO Union: https://stounion.com/

 

This residency is generously supported by Canada Council.

 

In 2016, I was named a Siminovitch Protégé by Siminovitch Laureate Nadia Ross: https://siminovitchprize.com/recipients/proteges/

 

My play Graceful Rebellions has been published by Playwrights Canada Press: http://bit.ly/2hUhayp

 

In 2014, I received the Emerging Artist Award from SummerWorks for Graceful Rebellions.

 

You can hear my voice in Cartoon Saloon‘s animated movie The Breadwinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQBQw-Bh1pg

 

I started off as a comedian, as a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Program at age 19.  I have trained with many comedians and artists in Toronto and New York. I have produced multiple comedy shows independently before finding support in the theatre world. I directed 4 iterations of Welcome to Town (a live stage documentary) that involved a cast of 16 actors. I also created and produced a parody show called Beyond the Moors with a cast of 22 actors.  The creation of these improvised shows have deeply informed my practice as a theatre artist.

 

As a facilitator, I have worked with a wide range of ages and experiences. I have instructed youth (ages 5-21), worked with seniors and I have also created workshops for newcomers and refugees. Organizations I have worked with include Childrens Peace Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Company’s Crossing Gibraltar Program, Buddies in Bad Times (PrideCab Youth Program), the AMY Project, YWCA & the TDSB (Adult School).

 

I grew up in Scarborough in Toronto Public Housing. I am the child of Afghan refugees and activists. I am the sister to an incredible brother who is a thoughtful and caring community organizer and affordable housing advocate. I have experienced homelessness and continue to face displacement as a queer person and as a poor person.

 

My work centers on exploring the politics of inclusion and tries to understand the conditions that create class disparities and violence. My work explore worlds of care and possibility. I believe in using creativity as a means of survival and growth. 

 

I am not interested in performing trauma and I am not interested in performing culture. I believe our joy as marginalized peoples is beautiful and something to be witnessed in the act of performance. JOY IS RADICAL. 

 

The hope that carries me is that one day artists of colour will be seen beyond our identity markers. I believe each artist has their own unique path and there is not one traditional trajectory of success to follow. I advocate for spaces and processes that support agency and care.

 

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