Where would theatre be without the families of the artists to support them from the wings? We asked Soheil’s wife, Azita Parsa, to give her thoughts on Modern Times’ 25th anniversary. Soheil has frequently said you are one of his most important supporters. Why do you think he says that? The support is mutual — it’s give and take. A life’s work in theatre is demanding. Soheil gets very busy with each production, but the wheels of creativity are constantly turning even during his downtime. I try to look after life’s little details so he doesn’t need to worry while doing his work. This works both ways as I attribute much of my own success at work to his support. What has Soheil’s work at Modern Times brought you? Soheil’s work has brought open mindedness and sense of equality inside our house. A lot of people value equality but for Soheil, it is at the root of his character! Part of that comes from the work that he does. Are you proud that Soheil has brought Persian culture to Canadian theatre audiences? I am extremely proud. Cultural background is a part of one’s pride and being Persian is part of the foundation of Soheil’s cultural identity. I believe he introduced an important part of our culture to Canadian audiences despite all of the discrimination and roadblocks he may have encountered. He is enriching the lives of his audiences by sharing our culture, but also by sharing a piece of himself. Your favourite Modern Times show? I have several favourite shows which makes it hard to choose, but ‘Hallaj’ would have to be my pick! Beyond being a beautiful piece, I think ‘Hallaj’ was the one production that surprised the Persian community, and presented him – to them – as an accomplished …
Thank you Toronto! Our production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding closes today and we couldn’t be happier. The production played to critical acclaim and full capacity houses throughout our run. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our audiences. It really has been a beautiful experience sharing this work with you all. NNNNN ‘…passionate, primal and poetic…one of the best and most vivid shows of 2015.’ – NOW Magazine **** ‘A marriage of fine acting, riveting text…wonderfully realized and filled with humanity.’ – Toronto Star *** ‘…a quintessentially Canadian approach to the classics – one that isn’t about a nebulous idea of diversity, but simply emphasizes the individuality of the performers.’ – The Globe and Mail ‘A production throbbing with heat, sweat, lust, uncontrollable passions and exquisite poetry.’ – Lynn Slotkin
We’re happy to announce a special post-show panel discussion after our matinee of Blood Wedding on Sunday March 15th. The Other Lorcas Sunday March 15th (performance at 2pm, discussion to follow) with Soheil Parsa, Ramin Jahanbegloo and Paulie McDermid Join us for what promises to be a fascinating trinity of perspectives. Soheil will be joined by Modern Times’ board member/philosopher, Ramin Jahanbegloo, and Aluna board member/Lorca scholar, Paulie McDermid. Book your tickets today. Ramin Jahanbegloo is a well-known Iranian-Canadian philosopher. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy, History and Political Science and later his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Sorbonne University. He has been a researcher at the French Institute for Iranian Studies and a fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of more than 24 books in Persian, English, and French on philosophy, comparative politics and nonviolence. He is presently an Associate Professor of Political Science and a Noor-York Visiting Chair in Islamic Studies at York University and an advisory board member of PEN Canada. Dr. Paulie McDermid is a member of Aluna Theatre’s Board of Directors, as well as a queer performance artist, and an academic specializing in the theatre works of Federico García Lorca. Since he first saw one of Lorca’s dramas as a teenager in Scotland, Paulie has spent 30 years exploring the work of Lorca in universities and on stages in Ireland, Spain and Canada. In 2007, he completed a PhD on and published a groundbreaking book looking at Lorca’s theatre works from the queer perspective of sexual and gender identity. Paulie has also written about his own ‘other Lorcas’ over on the Aluna blog. Check it out here. Image: Garcia Lorca by Khadzhi-Murad Alikhanov
We’re thrilled to be partnering with Aluna Theatre to present this rarely produced translation by Langston Hughes of Federico García Lorca’s ‘Blood Wedding (Bodas de Sangre)’. A 12 person ensemble, directed and choreographed by our own Soheil Parsa, brings Lorca’s classic of 20th century theatre to life. Blood Wedding recounts a family vendetta that comes to a boil when a bride-to-be runs away with the son of the enemy. Their ill-fated romance sparks a poetic exploration of the conflict between desire and social convention. We’re about to enter our third week of rehearsals with a tremendously talented cast and production team. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s your #BloodWeddingTO roster… The Ensemble: Lara Arabian, Steven Bush, Sochi Fried, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Mina James, Derek Kwan, Jani Lauzon, Sebastian Marziali, Liz Peterson, Beatriz Pizano, Chiamaka G. Ugwu and Bahareh Yaraghi Scenographer: Trevor Schwellnus Costume Designer: Angela Thomas Sound Designer / Composer: Thomas Ryder Payne Stage Manager: Erika Morey Production Manager: Charissa Wilcox Producer: Sue Balint Blood Wedding | Bodas de Sangre by Federico García Lorca | translation by Langston Hughes directed by Soheil Parsa Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 12 Alexander St, Toronto, ON Previews: March 11 & 12 Runs: March 13 – 29 Tuesday – Saturday at 8pm Wednesday and Sunday at 2pm Reserve your tickets today! And, stay tuned for announcements about post-show conversations and special events we’ll be hosting throughout the run. photos: (l) The set build begins (r) Sochi Fried and Lara Arabian in rehearsal
Ric Knowles has worked as a dramaturge for Modern Times’ productions on several occasions. The following is an excerpt from his forthcoming book on interculturalism in the Toronto theatre scene, in which he uses Modern Times as one of his case studies. “Modern Times” is perhaps a surprising name for a theatre company whose popular reputation, at least in its press coverage, seems to be based on its staged adaptations of ancient Persian fables, and whose current mandate focuses on the blending of Middle-Eastern and western theatrical forms. But the name is appropriate: central to the company’s importance may be its contribution to the rethinking of modernism itself. Indeed, Modern Times can be understood in its politics and artistic practices to be working in its modest way towards the completion of what Jürgen Habermas in 1980 famously (and controversially) called “the unfinished project of modernity”—the extension of the larger humanist project of Enlightenment through the creation of a rational and democratic public sphere, one that includes the arts as well as science and morality. According to Habermas, modernity held “the extravagant expectation that the arts and sciences would not merely promote the control of the forces of nature but also the understanding of self and world, moral progress, justice in social institutions, and even human happiness”. Habermas is sceptical about the project’s potential success, citing “Three Conservatisms”—antimodernism, pre-modernism, and postmodernism—that work against it. In spite of Parsa’s own experience with antimodernism in Iran, and his rejection of postmodern instabilities, Modern Times is more optimistic, and, circumventing many of the critiques levelled at Habermas’s gender blindness and his Eurocentric defence of the Enlightenment and its ravages, explicitly extends this extravagant expectation to all of the world’s peoples, whatever their genders, sexualities, races, or ethnicities. The company’s central project, I suggest, is …
When Soheil Parsa asked me if I would join the Modern Times board, I was both honoured and flattered, but at the same time hesitant. I had never worked or volunteered in theatre, and certainly had no academic exposure to the dramatic arts, unless you count the public school plays that we as kids are forced to participate in.
“The theatre productions of Mr. Parsa have been valuable for me in several ways.” The minimalistic nature of Soheil’s productions helps the audience to focus on the essential. There is no room for arbitrary interpretations beyond the control of the director. Soheil bravely demands all the attention of the audience, and he surely deserves it all because he has a lot to express, and he does so with power and determination. I watch each play more than once, and at the end of each show I feel exhausted: the processing of the barrage of ideas, and the new feelings I want to comprehend is very demanding.