Performance Works

THE ARCHIVIST

 

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The Archivist is currently in residency with STO Union (2017-2019). Its most recent iteration will be presented at SummerWorks (2017).  It has been presented by Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project (2016),  Soulotheatre (2015), Rhubarb Festival (2014) and was originally supported by Cahoots‘ playwright unit, Hot House, in 2014. This project has been generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council & Canada Council.

My name is Shaista (Shy-east-a). I am attempting to write a history but I can’t remember the order of things. You see, my memories are not entirely my own. And if I can’t tell the story of how I came to be, WE will repeat a cycle of ______ reaching back in time from Afghanistan to Canada. Will you help me remember so we don’t forget?

 

GRACEFUL REBELLIONS

 

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Graceful Rebellions was created in the Young Creators Unit (Buddies in Bad Times)  and has been presented by NAC’s Ontario Scene Festival (2015), SummerWorks (2014), Rhubarb (2013), & Halifax Queer Acts Festival (2013). NOW Magazine recognized the production for Outstanding New Play, Production, Performance and Direction (Evalyn Parry). The play is set to be published in the fall of 2017.  This play has been generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

Love is a sacred act of grace. Rebellion is the refusal of obedience. Joy is a state of divinity and destruction. Power is given to those who take. Can a queer Afghan woman identify herself in an occupied land?

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In this brilliant and engaging one-woman show, playwright and performer Shaista Latif transitions seamlessly between distinctly complex characters in a deeply personal work. Moving across cultures and generations, Graceful Rebellions tells the stories of three Afghan women, each bartering for small joys and challenging the cultural norms that exist under Afghanistan’s patriarchal rule. Shaista lovingly portrays characters, by turns funny and heartbreaking, who struggle in a world where women commonly have no power, in a culture that has long been dominated by war.

Often identifying more with the hyphen than with the identities in “Afghan-Canadian,” Shaista is a captivating performer who has important things to say about cultural pressure and “the graceful rebellion that lives in the heart of every Afghan girl.”

 

HOW I LEARNED TO SERVE TEA

 

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How I Learned to Serve Tea has been presented by Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project (2016), Montreal’s Quoleur Festival (2015) and Diaspora Dialogues (2015). This project has been funded by the Ontario Arts Council. For its first iteration while in residency at Diaspora Dialogues in 2014/2015,  Reena Katz was brought on as a collaborator and dramaturge.

How does a culturally diverse artist serve the work, the institution, the contract and the audience without losing their integrity or voice in the process? How does an artist of colour break free from the fear of appearing ungrateful when they question the circulation of power? How does the artist survive their creativity, rage and guilt while creating a work that addresses a “unique” cultural narrative? Is the artist complicit and complacent in accepting opportunities that address diversity? And is it possible to address diversity without calling attention to the greater dominant powers that be? Well, Shaista Latif can’t really answer all those questions right now. She’s in the middle of a fucking epic meltdown!

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In How I Learned to Serve Tea, the audience becomes the ultimate collaborator in the performance of the show by participating in a series of activities meant to illustrate the absurd situations and barriers artists of colour encounter while creating their work. At the end of the performance, audience members are asked to serve tea to one another as a way of supporting spaces of care and empathy. This show is built towards the intention of supporting active discourse about the politics of inclusion.

 

KABUL PUNK 

 

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Kabul Punk has been performed at Trampoline Hall (2016), Soulpepper Theatre’s Tiger Bamboo Festival (2016) Wrecking Ball (2016), AGO First Thursdays (2016)  Saga Collectif’s fundraiser: A Night of Spiritual Pride  and Open Doors (2016). This work has been funded by the Ontario Arts  Council.

Kabul Punk is a performed confrontation, a vicious sing along and response to our shared complacencies.The Kabul Punk has no desire to master anything, not even her own narrative. She refuses to play along. Instead, she asks us to play with her. She asks us to sing, to chant, and to scream: “FUCK THE SYSTEM!” and to repeat until our lungs fill with hot rage, repeat until our lips curl towards laughter, knowing it is absurd to think the world will be made better with more definitions and borders. Kabul Punk is the unreliable narrator of a history of colonization. She hasn’t managed to master the 7 string electric guitar she is playing but she is ready to use what is available: her knowledge of three basic chords and her voice. Kabul Punk is a reclamation of punk in the body of a poor, queer, afghan woman. She is dangerous and she has no idea what she is doing.
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Kabul Punk is performed at an opening, gala event, festival or any large gathering of people. The Kabul Punk takes your stage, with only a guitar, amp and microphone, and brings the audience to a place of release, rage and laughter in a 45-60 minute performance meant to shake up your celebration of its self-satisfied haze. It can be performed anywhere and the only technical requirement is a need for a mic stand and a mic.
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