Montreal

Montreal play offers critical look at Canada's refugee response

The Refugee Hotel is a dark comedy set in the aftermath of the Chilean coup d'état in 1973, which led to hundreds of thousands to resettle around the world, including Canada. The parallels to Canada's current resettlement of Syrian refugees are hard to avoid.

The Refugee Hotel aims to 'promote community conversation'

The play chronicles the true story of Chilean refugees who were resettled at a small hotel in Montreal in 1973. (James Douglas/Teesri Duniya)

With a mandate to showcase politically relevant work, Montreal's Teesri Duniya theatre will launch its season with a play about Chilean refugees in 1970s Montreal. 

The parallels to Canada's current resettlement of Syrian refugees are hard to avoid.  

The Refugee Hotel is a dark comedy set in the aftermath of the Chilean coup d'état in 1973, which led to hundreds of thousands of Chileans resettling around the world, including in Canada.

It chronicles the true story of a group of Chilean refugees who found their way to a small hotel in Montreal following the coup.

Teesri Duniya's artistic director, Rahul Varma, said the play highlights the resettlement plan Canada has, but also the conditions that create refugees — namely, war.

"Understanding is the best way to prevent war so we use the play to promote community conversation," Varma said.

After each performance there will be a "talk back" in the theatre where members of the audience can ask questions and share their thoughts as they process the messages in the play.

"We say, 'the play's wisdom ends when the curtain falls but the audience's wisdom begins right after that,'" Varma said.

He added that in previous productions the audience tends to want to linger and discuss the work, so making the talk-back part of each performance made sense.

"It's a play for our time because we really need to understand not only the exodus of these people and the resettling of them into the community but also understanding why it happens." 

The Refugee Hotel begins its run at the Segal Centre Studio Oct. 26 and runs until Nov. 13.

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