Thank you for a wonderful 25th!

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home, Season 2014-15

  We couldn’t have asked for a better 25th anniversary– meeting up with old friends and colleagues at our anniversary party at Buddies in Bad Times; reminiscing about the past with testimonials from collaborators and supporters; doing the work we love to do.    

Blast from the Past… Vahid Evazzedeh

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home

Modern Times invited Danish-Iranian artist Vahid Evazzedeh to Toronto in January 2009 to give a workshop in Eugenio Barba’s Pre-expressivity. He was the first link in the chain that would lead in our four-year international collaboration with Denmark on our  ‘Forgiveness’ project.    Theater is a meaningless activity if you think ‘rationally’. I was almost about to begin to think ‘rationally’ after having migrated from Iran to Denmark and after having failed to get any performance projects up and running during the first few years of my stay in Europe. Just before I left Iran a mutual friend gave me Soheil Parsa’s contact details. I did not know anything about Soheil, except that he was a successful Iranian theater director in Toronto. I sent Soheil an email before I left Tehran for Odin Teatret. By the time I received Soheil’s reply, I was in the most difficult situation in my life. Anything that could possibly go wrong had indeed gone wrong; and all my plans, down the drain. Soheil understood my troubles, himself having been stuck in similar if not worse circumstances when he left Iran with his family in the 80s. Soheil and I kept talking over the phone and via email about theater for many years. I was disenchanted, bitter and pessimistic about any possible change of my circumstances. Soheil, in the contrary, was always encouraging, inviting me to be patient and told me about the many years of struggle that he had to go through in order to get himself established in the Canadian cultural landscape. It took us nine years until Soheil and I finally met in person. He was one of the closest friends I had, not seen. On the morning of 21st January 2009 Soheil walked into the cafeteria at the Gladstone Hotel, sat …

Things would be tricky without them… Azita Parsa

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home

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 …

Modern Times and Interculturalism – Ric Knowles writes

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home, Modern Times In Depth

  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 …

Why I Volunteer… Richard Shimoda

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home

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.  

Things would be tricky without them… Soheil Homayouni

Peter Farbridge 25th Anniversary, Home

“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.