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 artist in the Canadian theatre scene.
You and Soheil have had an immigrant’s challenge coming to Canada. How do you feel as a Canadian after 30 years?
It was an adventure to be an immigrant in Canada, and this country has given our family so much more than we could have ever expected. The initial culture shock was an adjustment. We tried to be really open, instilling Persian culture and traditions in our children while still embracing our newfound Canadian roots. It was very difficult at first, but we learned. Jahan (our son), sometimes reminds us about it, and he says, “I think what you went through pushed me to be what I am today.” 30 years in this country, and I am proud to be where I am. I am proud to be Canadian – to be part of a heritage where an immigrant can thrive and be appreciated for who they are – not simply for an ideal of who they could or should be.
Azita Parsa, Lead Technical Operations Engineering Specialist at Allstream, a business communications provider, has served on the Modern Times’ Board in the 1990s and has been a frequent benefactor of the company, both with her finances and her time. She and her husband Soheil have two children, Jahan (32) a Scientist who is currently a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF, and Keemya (18) a soon-to-be undergrad who has ambitions to be a journalist.