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Changing the theatre landscape, one play at a time

Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre recognizes the need for people to be able to tell their own stories. Since its inception in 1981, the theatre has produced over 65 plays by artists who are Indigenous and people of colour.

Montreal's Teesri Duniya Theatre has been highlighting BIPOC works for 31 years

Teesri Duniya Theatre co-founder and artistic director Rahul Varma.
Teesri Duniya Theatre co-founder and artistic director Rahul Varma. (Tim Chin/CBC)

We tell stories to learn about our history, revitalize cultural understanding and broaden our perspectives. Stories are best told by those who have experienced them. When we are removed from our own narrative, we lose who we are.

Montreal's Teesri Duniya Theatre recognizes the need for people to be able to tell their own stories. Since its inception in 1981, the theatre has produced over 65 plays by artists who are Indigenous and people of colour.

It was one of the first culturally inclusive theatre companies in Canada.

Theatre co-founder and artistic director Rahul Varma says its plays reflect Canada's multicultural, multiracial reality.

"We need to create the work here on the Canadian soil by BIPOC people so they can tell their own stories rather than their stories get assimilated by others. That is our investment into our creative capital," he says.

Oliver Koomsatira at a Teesri Duniya Theatre Fireworks Playwrights Program reading.
Oliver Koomsatira is seen at a Teesri Duniya Theatre Fireworks Playwrights Program reading. (James Douglas/Teesri Duniya Theatre)

The company's Fireworks Playwrights Program is a development opportunity for emerging artists to make theatre based on their cultural experiences living in Canada. They are provided with dramaturgical support, artistic development and mentorship.

It was within this program that the Teesri Duniya Theatre's upcoming show Psycho 6 was developed. Partially based on playwright and performer Oliver Koomsatira's lived experience, the show examines how specific socio-economic factors create a context where marginalized people of colour are vulnerable to delinquency, out of sheer necessity.

Teesri Duniya Theatre's focus on nurturing relevant, meaningful works has given the space for artists like Koomsatira to explore and create theatre based on their own stories. It's an opportunity for which he is grateful.

Oliver Koomsatira, playwright and performer in Psycho 6, which opens Friday, June 10, 2022. (Adam Matheson)

"I'm not going to say that artists like me never have this kind of chance, but sometimes we are missing a ladder and echelons. Teesri is a great place to propel artists, BIPOC artists, to get their first foot through the door and get experience from that," he says. 

Presented by Teesri Duniya Theatre, Psycho 6 will have its world premiere at MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) on June 10. The show runs until June 23.

For more information visit teesriduniyatheatre.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rana Liu

Communications Officer

Rana Liu is a Communications Officer at CBC Quebec working in community engagement and outreach. She has previously worked in community development and education. She is looking for new ways to connect with underserved communities on the stories and issues that matter to them.

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