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Nadeem Phillip, Nimet Kanji and Carmela Sison. Photo by Tim Matheson.

This Diwali Give the gift of theatre experience to your kids

  Fun, parties and good food are not the only reasons, for people settled in Canada, to celebrate their own festivals. These festivals are a great way to teach kids about a particular culture, its values and the traditions. As the season of Diwali kicks in, various events are planned across the Lower Mainland for adults and kids to get closer with India and its culture.

The Carousel Theatre for Young People is celebrating the first night of Diwali with opening of the play Sultans of the Street written by award-winning Canadian playwright Anusree Roy.

The play is recommended for ages 6 and up. It is about four children from different social classes – two withthe desire to purchase better kites, two with the simple wish to attend school – are trapped in a world of begging on the streets of Kolkata, India. Dressed as gods they bless the generous and threaten to curse those who are not. Together, the quartet must work to escape servitude to the mysterious “Aunty” and set a course for a new life. They begin to take action to pull them out of that situation.

The first question that comes to mind after reading the plot is — will kids born in a Canadian set up be able to relate and learn from a play that talks about issues and concerns of street children in a remote Indian city. Marcus Youssef, director of the play says that the settings may seem contextual, the play talks about universal theme of optimism and natural goodness in kids everywhere.

“GG-nominated playwright Anusree Roy is one of our country’s great storytellers. In Sultans of the Street she takes a potentially overwhelming subject — the lives of street children in another culture — and treats it with such insight, deftness, humour and respect for the fundamental dignity of young people that what we are watching feels utterly universal. Kids everywhere face serious challenges. And, like in Sultans in the Street, kids everywhere are often resilient, heroic, loving and hilarious in response,” he says.

Born in Canada with an Egyptian background, Youssef says that while directing the play he never had a difficult moment relating with the play due to its universal appeal. “I thought the play was actually depicting the busy streets of Cairo.”

He also says that the cast and crew members of the play are from different cultures and origins increasing the multicultural appeal of the play and resembling a society that our kids live in. “I am working with a key team. Rohit Chokhani, who is also the artistic producer of the Diwali Fest, is the Production Dramaturg of the play. He provides all cultural references. There are two South Asian and one Caucasian actor. So when kids watch the play they would find the experience similar to their classroom or surroundings that is multicultural,” says Youssef.

Sultans of the Street

by Anusree Roy

October 29-November 13, 2016
@ The Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island, Vancouver

Featuring Nimet Kanji, Amitai Marmorstein, Nadeem Phillip, Parmiss Sehat and Carmela Sison


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