Montreal, October 11th 2016- Following last season’s haunting State of Denial, Teesri Duniya Theatre is privileged to present award-winning writer Carmen Aguirre‘s timely play, The Refugee Hotel, from October 26 – November 13 at the Segal Centre Studio, directed by Paulina Abarca-Cantin.
The world’s refugee crisis looms large, affecting all walks of lives, generations and nations. This moving, dark comedybrings to life the consequences of exile, betrayal, torture and guilt, but it is ultimately about the strength of the human spirit and its power to heal. Deepening its mandate to encourage dialogue, the company will hold talkbacks with invited guests after performances. Performed in English with Spanish surtitles.
Manuelita: “It takes courage to remember, it takes courage to forget, it takes a hero to do both.”
Told from the point of view of a young woman looking back on her childhood, Aguirre poignantly chronicles the story of a wave of Chilean refugees who are placed at a hotel in downtown Montreal following the aftermath of the brutal Chilean military coup d’état of Sept. 11, 1973. Now recognized as one of the watershed moments of the Cold War, hundreds of thousands of Chileans resettled across Canada and around the globe. The Refugee Hotel resonates with contemporary relevance and universality, exploring Canada’s ability to successfully accept, support and embrace refugees as new citizens.
For Chilean-born Abarca-Cantin, the play reflects the story of both her and Aguirre’s own families. “This production is rooted in an urgent need to pay it forward for others; to express what a life-saving experience it was to find sanctuary in Canada. The Refugee Hotel speaks of resilience under extreme duress and of the power of generosity towards others in dire need. I was drawn to the play for the way it renders the refugee experience wholly human while celebrating humour as a vital means of survival.” explains Abarca-Cantin. The spirits of the newly displaced Chileans in The Refugee Hotel fight hard not to be broken. The Chilean sense of humour, irony, camaraderie, love of music and of life, prevails. Nicknames are affectionately bestowed as the audience meets Cakehead, Condor Passes, Flaca, Fat Jorge, Calladita and Juan of the Chickens …
Manuel: “Cigarette burns. Electricity. Starvation. Dehydration. Solitary confinement. Many blows to the head. And I’m alive. I am alive… ”
The talented, intercultural 11-member cast is one of the biggest in Teesri Duniya Theatre’s history. Together with the design and production team, the ensemble brings together artists from numerous heritages including Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, First Nations, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Poland, Peru and Uruguay. Featuring: Charles Bender, Pablo Diconca, Braulio Elicer, Craig Francis, Ziad Ghanem, Shanti Gonzales, Juan Grey, Gilda Monreal, Sally Singal, Mariana Tayler and Vera Wilson Valdez.
Teesri Duniya Theatre is dedicated to producing, developing and presenting socially and politically relevant theatre based on diverse cultural experiences. It gives a vital voice to communities that might otherwise go unheard, and shares others’ histories. From Artistic Director Rahul Varma: “This authentic piece of theatre, along with moderated, post-show discussions, will hopefully serve as inspiration to recent newcomers; fostering dialogue across Quebec’s Latin-American diaspora, across both official language communities, and across the many cultural communities that have made and are making similar journeys to adapt to Quebec society.”
Fat Jorge: “Sadness overtakes everything sometimes, and you just gotta keep dancing till it passes, kids. And it will pass.”
Every company member is moved by and feels connected to the story in The Refugee Hotel. Pablo Diconca, (Fat Jorge) says, “I am deeply touched by the play. It reflects my own story; my parents were part of the resistance in Uruguay.” The themes that affect Ziad Ghanem (Juan) most are love, hope and human brutality. Mirroring the thoughts of fellow performers, he is looking forward to opening peoples’ eyes to other realities, “It’s important to tell the story of the Chilean 9/11- many of us outside the Chilean community are unaware of what happened in the early 70’s.” Sally Singal (Pat Keleman) thinks audiences will be stirred by this compelling play, “This production will not only entertain but educate and electrify audiences as we present the issues and sensibilities of people confronting their atrocities and adjusting to a new life.”
Entering the hotel, the audience is treated to a mosaic of magic windows exposing surreal visions, collective memories and nightmares. Top notch designers are Diana Uribe, set and costumes; Audrey-Anne Bouchard, lights; and Chris Wardell sound and video. The stage manager is Danielle Skene.
Director Abarca-Cantin speaks to the timely resonance of the play and why people need to see it: “There is possibly a little girl arriving in Montreal tonight – a new refugee. The presentation of this play is a token of affection to her and her new family as she begins a hugely challenging journey; but one that presents an extraordinary opportunity to heal, to learn, to achieve her full potential and to work passionately towards making the world a better place for others.”
Teesri Duniya Theatre welcomes 300 newly arrived Syrian refugees to the production thanks to Canada Council for the Arts and Sun Life Financial’s ‘The Arts and Culture Welcome Refugees’ initiative.
At a Glance: The Refugee Hotel
Presented by Teesri Duniya Theatre
at the Segal Centre Studio (5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd.)
October 26th to November 13th, 2016
Tickets: $18-$26 (various discounts: students/seniors/groups/Segal Subscribers)
Half-price preview tickets: Wed. Oct. 26
Halloween Special: tickets for Sun. Oct. 30 8pm & Mon. Oct. 31 are 2-for-1 if purchased by Oct. 20 with the code word ‘refugee’
There will be moderated talkbacks after each performances
The play contains language and presents images that may be disturbing to young audiences.