Soraya

Written by Anahita Dehbonehie
Directed by Marie Farsi
Starring Frank Cox-O’Connell, Qasim Khan, Ahmed Moneka, Tahirih Vejdani and Bahareh Yaraghi
Stage directions read by Rahaf Fasheh

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Soraya takes place over the course of a winter evening at the home of a Canadian history professor, Neil and his half-Persian wife Tara.  A surprise guest shows up just before a small gathering to celebrate his promotion. Over the course of the evening the tensions between the different cultures build until they can’t anymore, and each of the five characters is forced to grapple with the question: who do we save and why?

About the playwright

Anahita Dehbonehie (she/her) is an Iranian creator and installation artist. Currently based in Toronto, her practice is founded on the principle that truths are communicated most powerfully through evocative sensory experiences. She is drawn specifically to work that questions form and content while creating space for contemporary conversation. The evolving relationship between participant, creator and the exchange of ideas is what draws her to the art of live performance.  She is inspired by community, rigor and deep gratitude.

about the director and cast

Marie Farsi (she/her)

Marie is an award-winning theatre maker and director primarily focused on the creation of new work. She has directed for and collaborated with some of the most innovative companies from across Canada, such as Crow’s Theatre, Necessary Angel, the Stratford Festival, Neworld Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Porte-Parole and Théâtre La Seizième. Her theatrical interests are broad from staging classical texts to sketch comedy to contemporary puppetry to musicals to radically intimate performance installations. She is now embracing the new opportunities presented in film, with her animated short “Prométhée au féminin” which marks her successful debut in filmmaking (it premiered at VIFF this fall 2021). Her work as a director has been described as trippy, intelligent and wildly inventive. Marie is not afraid of risk, of bending physical space and theatrical conventions to offer a different point of entry into the arts for younger and more adventurous audiences. She is an artist with very playful conceptions of dramatic convention. She was recipient of the 2019 Ray Michal Award for Outstanding Body of Work by an Emerging Director, the 2020 Dora Award for Outstanding Direction in the Musical Theatre division, and the 2020 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Director of a Musical (for Ghost Quartet). She was the Associate Artistic Director at Crow’s Theatre for two seasons, and is also the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of the formally experimental company Babelle Theatre in Vancouver, which was the Company-in-Residence at the Arts Club for this past season 2020/21. More at mariefarsi.com

Frank Cox-O’Connell (he/him)

Frank Cox-O’Connell is an actor and theatre director from Toronto. He has performed in over 50 theatre productions, including Hamlet and Hedda Gabler with Canadian Stage, Hand To God at Coal Mine Theatre and Spoon River at Soulpepper where he also writes and directs for the Soulpepper Concert Series. Awards for his acting include two My Entertainment Awards, two Dora Awards, and a SummerWorks Spotlight Award. His directing credits include Romeo & Juliet (Canadian Stage), Fool For Love (Soulpepper) and Ajax & Little Iliad, a double bill of plays created with his longtime collaborator Evan Webber that toured across Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. His body of work was shortlisted for the 2020 John Hirsch Director’s Award. Frank started as a drummer in the rock group Boys Who Say No. He studied directing at the Soulpepper Academy with his mentor Daniel Brooks, acting at The National Theatre School of Canada and music in the arts programs of the Toronto District School Board. Frank began working regularly in television in 2020 when Toronto’s theatres went dark and can be seen on the CBC sitcom Strays.

[Image description: a man with a red beard and black t-shirt poses for his passport.]

Qasim Khan (he/him)

Qasim is a Dora nominated actor who is best known for his work in theatre. Most recently, he starred in Paradise Lost, The Neverending Story, The Comedy of Errors, and appeared in Henry VIII, Timon of Athens, The Changeling, The Madwoman of Chaillot, and The Crucible (Stratford Festival). Other recent work has included: The Home Project (Howland); Paradise Lost (Centaur); The Crucible, The Royal Comedians, Dirt, Alligator Pie, Letters from the Great War (Soulpepper); A Craigslist Cantata (Musical Stage/ATP/NAC/Citadel); Anne of Green Gables, Alice Through The Looking-Glass (Charlottetown Festival); All’s Well, Hamlet, Das Ding (Canadian Stage); Shannon 10:40 (Videofag); and Beneath the Banyan Tree (Theatre Direct). He can be seen in the upcoming feature Sneakerella (Disney), his voice can be heard on Blues Clues, and he has played roles on Nikita, Saving Hope, Dan For Mayor, Riftworld, and Little Mosque, and he also hosts The Early Modern Cooking Show. Qasim can also be heard on several audio projects, including The Hooves Belonged to the Deer (Buddies); and Feedback (Cue6). Outside of his performance work, he is a writer and musician, and is currently working on a musical adaptation of Stillwater School for Mosquitos. Follow him @theqasimkhan.

[Image description: A black and white portrait of a South Asian man with a beard and a leather jacket.]

Ahmed Moneka (he/him)

Arrived in Toronto from Baghdad six years ago and has since collaborated with many art institutions, including the Canadian Opera Company, Soulpepper Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Aga Khan Museum, Tafelmusik, Driftwood Theatre Group, Toronto Jazz Festival, Koerner Hall, Modern Times Stage, Jabari Dance Theatre, Toronto Laboratory Theatre, Theatre Centre, Aluna Theatre, and TRIA Theatre, TD Toronto Jazz festival, Kroner Hall and Small World Music. He’s been an Artist-in-residence with Driftwood Theatre Group: Member of Noteworthy The Musical Stage & Prime Mover: and member of Soulpepper Academy. In Baghdad, Ahmed studied theatre at the Institute of Fine Art and then at the prestigious Academy of Fine Art. During his formative years, he also learned Afro-Sufi singing and drumming in the tradition of his family, who came to Iraq from Kenya in the 8th century. He was the first Black Iraqi to host a television program, the youngest member of the Iraqi National Theatre. He played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. Other performances with The Forum Theatre, Iraqi Theatre Company, Street Art Company, and Baghdad Theatre Company took him to Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and many other festivals. He co-wrote and starred in the film The Society, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and resulted in his exile from Iraq because of its subject matter of homosexuality. His family was later exiled to Turkey and after four years of waiting for permission to join him in Toronto finally happened. 

Tahirih Vejdani (she/her)

Tahirih Vejdani is a mixed artist of Tamil and Iranian heritage. Her artistic practice includes working as a multidisciplinary artist in many facets of the arts as an actor, singer, conductor, vocal instructor, music director, video editor and arts administrator. Tahirih holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Regina with a double major in Vocal Performance and Music History.

As a performer, Tahirih has appeared in shows across Canada and the US including: HMS Pinafore, Treasure Island, The Pirates of Penzance, Elektra (Stratford Shakespeare Festival); Portia’s Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Ruff); The Men in White (Factory Theatre); Taming of the Shrew (Driftwood Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing (Tarragon Theatre); The Jungle Book (Young Peoples Theatre/Kidoons/Cleveland Playhouse Square); The Hobbit, Shrek The Musical, Honk! A Musical Tale of the Ugly Duckling (Globe Theatre); Paradise Lost (Summerworks Festival); Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop (Shakespeare in Action). Select film/TV credits: Kim’s Convenience, Receiver, Let it Snow, InSecurity

When she is not performing, Tahirih spends a lot of her time working as an educator and conductor. She conducts the Regent Park School of Music choirs in Regent Park and Jane and Finch, and has led the Nai Childrens Choir, Toronto World Unity Choir, Echo Women’s Choir, Florivox Women’s Choir and Univox Choir. Tahirih teaches private voice lessons and is a vocal tutorial instructor at Sheridan’s Bachelor of Musical Theatre program. Currently, she is the program manager for One Song Glory at The Musical Stage Company.

Follow her at @tahirihvejdani & www.tahirihvejdani.ca

 

Bahareh Yaraghi (she/her)

Bahareh was born in Iran, raised in Vancouver, BC and is a Toronto-based actor. Her work has taken her from the largest theatres across the country to the smallest. She recently wrapped the very first play at the Stratford Festival season, post covid, playing Titania & Hippolyta in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Other selected theatre credits include: An Ideal Husband, Julius Caesar, The Aeneid (Stratford Festival); A Doll’s House, Part2 (Mirvish/RMTC); Cost of Living (Arts Club/Citadel); Shakespeare in Love (Citadel/RMTC), Salt-Water Moon (Why Not/Factory & an East Coast tour), Death of the King, Blood Wedding, Hallaj (Modern Times); Le Placard, Les Zinspirés 2 (Théâtre Français); Unholy, HER2 (Nightwood); Kiss (Canadian Stage/Theatre Smash/ARC); Oil, Pomona, Moment, Bea (ARC); Minotaur (YPT); The Kite Runner (Theatre Calgary/Citadel). Bahareh is a six-time Dora Award (Toronto) nominee (Individual & Ensemble) & a two-time Sterling Award (Edmonton) nominee (Individual & Ensemble).

[Image Description: A woman of West Asian decent, olive-toned skin, with long dark curly hair. She is wearing an orange sleevelss top, looking straight into the camera with a slight smile.]

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