WELCOME TO YOUR DIGITAL PROGRAM GUIDE!

ILLUSTRATION: Simranpreet Anand

THEATRE CONSPIRACY (VANCOUVER)

WRITTEN BY GAVAN CHEEMA
DIRECTED BY PANEET SINGH

WORLD PREMIERE

06

MAY

to

15

MAY

Humorous and heartwarming.

A narrative in Punjabi and English, Himmat delves into the world of a father and daughter born generations and miles apart.

It is a gut-wrenchingly honest depiction of a working-class family’s struggle with addiction and labour. Told through flashbacks and set in Surrey Memorial Hospital, Himmat takes audiences on a journey exploring the complexities of family history and immigration. As secrets are revealed, Banth and Ajit unpack their memories, discovering how family dynamics and relationships change over time.

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਅਤੇ ਅੰਗਰੇਜ਼ੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਇੱਕ ਕਹਾਨੀ, ਹਿੰਮਤ ਇੱਕ ਪਿਓ ਤੇ ਧੀ ਦੀ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਦਿਖਾਉਂਦਾ ਹੈ, ਜੋ ਅਲੱਗ ਪੀੜ੍ਹੀਆਂ ਤੇ ਜਗਾਵਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਹਨ।

ਇਹ ਇੱਕ ਮਜਦੂਰ ਜਮਾਤ ਦੇ ਪਰਿਵੱਰ ਦੀ ਨਸ਼ੇ ਅਤੇ ਮਜਦੂਰੀ ਕੰਮ ਨਾਲ ਸੁੰਗਰਸ਼ ਦੀ ਬਹੁਤ ਹੀ ਭੋਲੀ ਅਤੇ ਦਿਲ ਨਾਲ ਭਰੀ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਹੈ। ਫਲੈਸ਼ਬੈਕ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਦੱਸਿਆ ਅਤੇ ਸਰੀ ਮੈਮੋਰੀਅਲ ਹਸਪਤਾਲ ਵਿੱਚ ਸੈੱਟ ਕੀਤਾ, ਹਿੰਮਤ ਦਰਸ਼ਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਕ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਅਤੇ ਇਮੀਗ੍ਰੇਸ਼ਨ ਦੀਆਂ ਗੁੰਝਲਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਾਮਣਾ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਯਾਤਰਾ ‘ਤੇ ਲੈ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਜਿਵੇਂ ਹੀ ਭੇਦ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਹਨ, ਬੰਤ ਅਤੇ ਅਜੀਤ ਆਪਣੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਖੋਲ੍ਹਦੇ ਹਨ, ਇਹ ਪਤਾ ਲਗਾਉਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਕਿ ਕਿਵੇਂ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਕ ਸੰਬੰਧ ਅਤੇ ਰਿਸ਼ਤੇ ਸਮੇਂ ਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਬਦਲਦੇ ਹਨ।

Playwright: Gavan Cheema

Actors:
Gavan Cheema – Ajit
Munish Sharma* – Banth
Veenu Sandhu* – Bachani 

Understudies: Rami Kahlon*, Parm Soor*, and Sangeeta Wylie*

Director: Paneet Singh

Dramaturg: Tim Carlson

Lead Producer: Theatre Conspiracy

Producing Partner: South Asian Arts

Sound and Projection Designer: David Mesiha

Lighter Designer: Parjad Sharifi

Set Designer: Kimira Reddy

Costume Designer: elika mojtabaei

Stage Manager: Yvonne Yip*

Production Manager: Reid Collinson

Sound Assistant: Cindy Kao

Marketing and Communications: Erin Purghart

Translator: Paneet Singh

* The participation of these Artists are arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance•Opera•Theatre Policy.

One of the biggest gifts to receive as a director is to pick up a script and immediately think, “Hey, I know these people!” That’s what Gavan achieves in this script so profoundly; familiar characters in a grounded reality. The difficulty of this can’t be understated, especially when a Punjabi playwright is writing about Punjabi characters against the backdrop of addiction. It’s a story so often re-told that it often only takes the form of stigmatization, demonization, and cliche. 

But this isn’t that show. This isn’t a show about alcoholism in the Punjabi community. It’s a show about relationships between complex and conflicted people. It’s a story about the moments of joy and struggle throughout the process of repair. It’s a story that forces you to care. And I do. I care deeply. Because this is a story that could be taking place in my neighbourhood, which I would hear about through the community grapevine.

So, this is an invitation to step into our neighbourhood, and experience this story about people that we know. Be in community with us (and less pretentiously – the next part of that grapevine) as we translate this story to you in a way that offers an earnest glimpse of familiarity and intimacy. I hope that it can make you care.

Peace and love.

—Paneet Singh

Theatre Conspiracy creates theatrical events that activate discussion on vital contemporary themes in the local, national and international conversation.

Theatre Conspiracy is committed to enhancing a rich dialogue between our city, the province and the international community. We are committed to working with other arts organizations and community leaders to achieve artistic excellence, engage audiences, raise the profile of theatre and share resources.

Theatre Conspiracy was co-founded by Richard Wolfe and Tim Carlson and is now co-lead by David Mesiha, Gavan Cheema and Tim Carlson. Conspiracy was incorporated in 1995 and is a registered charity. The company’s work has been presented across Canada, around the UK and other international centres including Berlin, Lisbon, Chicago and New York.

Special thanks to VACT, Rice and Beans, and Boca Del Lupo for their support in early workshops of the piece, South Asian Art for their ongoing commitment to the piece and to Kathleen Flaherty and PTC for dramaturgy support and script development.

South Asian Arts Society is committed to creating performance and educational opportunities for professional and amateur artists, while developing artistic forums that act as a platform for building knowledge of South Asian culture via new projects, new ideas, and new collaborations. We are active in promoting South Asian dance, music, and theatre via dance and music classes, professional performances and workshops, guest lectures, as well as presenting comedic plays, musicals, and dance dramas across the Lower Mainland.

Cast & Company Bios

Tim is a playwright, journalist and songwriter as well as co-founder and artistic producer of Theatre Conspiracy. His new play Isolation Suite premiered in 2021 as a podcast series featuring music by his band Cold Calculi. He led the creation of Foreign Radical, which has toured widely in Canada and the UK, and won an Edinburgh Fringe First Award 2017. Tim co-created Stray with Tanya Marquardt (New York, Toronto, Vancouver 2018/19). Other plays include: Victim Impact (The Cultch, 2018); Extraction (The Cultch, 2013, Rio Tinto Alcan Award); and Omniscience (Vancouver, Berlin, Lisbon and Chicago, published by Talonbooks, 2007).

As a journalist, Tim worked on staff as an arts writer and editor at the Halifax Daily News, Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight.

Gavan is a director, writer, producer, and educator. She is based out of Vancouver: the traditional, unceded, and occupied territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is a first generation Canadian, with roots coming from the five rivers of Punjab. Currently, Gavan is the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Conspiracy where she is writing and premiering her new piece Himmat, and working on Same Difference as part of the co-creation team. Himmat is Gavan’s first full-length play and she is immensely grateful to her family, friends and colleagues who supported the work throughout the years. 

Select credits include: Conspiracy Now (Theatre Conspiracy), Rishi & d Douen (Carousel Theatre), Danceboy (Tremors Festival/ Vancouver Art Gallery Fuse), Burqa Boutique (Revolver Festival), Marie’s Letters (Shift Festival), da’ kink in my hair and You Used to Call Me Marie (Envision Festival), The [Organization] (Unladylike co.). Assistant direction: Clean/Espejos (Neworld), Foreign Radical (UK tour), The Orchard [after Chekhov] (Arts Club).

Rami Kahlon is a theatre and film actor from Vancouver, BC. Her past theatrical credits include the touring production of The Troll Grandfather (Axis Theatre) and staged readings of Dil Ka and The Bibliomancer (Ruby Slippers Theatre). Rami is ecstatic to be working with the incredibly talented cast and crew at Theatre Conspiracy on Himmat. She wants to take this moment to thank her family for their continuous support.

Cindy is a Taiwanese actor and sound artist, (Ketegalan and Siraya Nations) based in Vancouver (Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations). She received a BFA in Theatre Performance at Simon Fraser University, with a classical violin background. Prior to her degree, her works includes performing with the International Youth Symphony Orchestra, Tafelmusik Baroque Institute at the University of Toronto, Banff International String Quartet Competition Young Musicians Program, as well as receiving multiple awards with Performing Arts BC. During her time studying theatre, Cindy was re-acquainted with music, performing as an actor while given the opportunity to sound design. Since then, much of her work with SFU has allowed her to explore her background as a musician and execute her training as an actor. Most recently, she starred in the 2021 award winning short film “A Family Act”, and performed in Modulus Festival 2021, as part of violin/electronic duo Sapphire Haze with duo partner, Aysha Dulong. They will also be the featured artist for the upcoming event with Music on Main’s Emerging Artist programme on April 12, at the Fox Cabaret.

David Mesiha is a Canadian award-winning composer and sound/video designer. He is known for his music composition and multimedia installations alike. His artistic practice includes creation of immersive and interactive work that blurs the lines between disciplines of Theatre, Performance, Visual Design and Music Composition. With the support of Theatre Passe Muraille, the Theatre Centre and Theatre Conspiracy, he recently premiered an ambitious multidisciplinary new work titled Same Difference. David has been nominated for and won multiple awards for many shows and across multiple disciplines from music composition to projection and innovation. Among these shows are Project (X) by Leaky Heaven, Terminus (Pi Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (Leaky Heaven) and The Busy World is Hushed (One2 theatre). David co-created and composed the music for Foreign Radical which premiered in Vancouver in 2015 to critical acclaim and won a Jessie Richardson critic’s choice award for innovation while being nominated across multiple other categories, and most recently won a Fringe First Award at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. David’s is constantly developing work that is multidisciplinary and collaborative, drawing on the strength of team dynamic to fuel a creative process that is as important and dynamic as the final outcome.

elika mojtabaei (she/her/hers) is an Iranian-born Vancouver-based costume and prop designer, writer, translator, and editor. She studied Psychology and French at the University of British Columbia and Fashion Design at the Blanche MacDonald Centre. Her most recent costume design credits include a film about a uterus, Melon Piece, Orangutang, Book of Kings, Suddenly Slaughter (presented at PuSh Festival 2019), Cain and Abel, Disagreeable Tales 2.0, and Flying Machines. 

The movement and stillness of bodies, the power and limitations of material, and the joys and tribulations of colour inspire her. She is interested in surrealist gestures and hints of magic realism in both costume design and writing. She works with prints and textures, and the poetry of the unsaid. She enjoys delving deep into the psyches of characters and delivering an outward expression of that which exists just beneath the surface: the potential of costumes becoming a through line within the theatre apparatus.

elika likes the sunshine. It makes her freckles darker.

Kimira is a Set Designer based in BC. She uses virtual reality as a concept tool for set design and creates an immersive VR walk-through of the final product. She is also the Communications Director for Raven Spirit Dance. Originally from South Africa, she holds an MFA in Design from UBC and a Bachelor’s in Performing Arts Technology. Credits: VR Technician for Uninterrupted (Canada Wild Arts Society). Set Design for we the same (Ruby Slippers); Like It or Not (Greenthumb Theatre); bad eggs (Unladylike Productions); Playthings (Affair of Honor); Zoning Out (Blackout Theatre); No Child (The Arts Club); The Turn of the Screw (Aenigma Theatre); Romance, Relationships, Rights (UBC Centre for Inclusion & Citizenship partnering with Community Living Society); Burqa Boutique, The Way You Carry On, Fireflies (Killjoy Theatre); The Crucible (UBC Theatre). Assistant Set Design for The Birds and The Bees (Arts Club); The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare in Love, All’s Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus (Bard on the Beach). Props for Foolish Operations; A Journal of the Plague Year (TomoeArts); Liminal Magic (Rumble Theatre).

More at: kimirareddy.com

Veenu Sandhu (she/her) is an actor, writer and director who grew up on the traditional territories of the Dunne-za and the Beaver peoples, now known as Dawson Creek in Northern British Columbia. She minored in Drama at the University of Alberta and later completed her Diploma for Acting in Film and Television at Vancouver Film School (VFS). After 15 years in the industry, she has come full circle and is now an instructor at VFS, primarily teaching Audition and Movement. Select theatre credits include A Thousand Splendid Suns (Arts Club), The Odd Couple (Frolicking Divas), and Eurydice (Secretly Women). You may have also seen her on a TV show or a movie like Lost In Space (Netflix), Supernatural (CW), Travelers (Netflix), and A Dog’s Way Home (Columbia Pictures). Veenu has infinite gratitude, appreciation and love for her partner Devin who is always there for her. In her spare time she loves to cook, dance like nobody’s watching, and practice yoga… but not all at the same time.

Parjad is a Vancouver-based theatre scenographer and theatre-maker. He has been nominated for Jessie Richardson Award three times and won the award in 2012. Parjad has collaborated with theatre and dance companies over 70 productions as a designer and creator in Vancouver and across Canada, such as the Arts Club, Neworld Theatre, Electric Company, Leaky Heaven, Fight with a Stick, Theatre Terrific, Theatre Conspiracy, Rumble Theatre, Pi Theatre, 605 Collective, and Kokoro Dance. Parjad’s video installation Chronos of A Dead Machine was exhibited in London’s DRHA: Collaborative Practices of Interdisciplinary in 2010. He is the author of Bioscengraphy: Towards the Scenography of Affection which was published by Inter-Disciplinary Press as a chapter in a book titled: Presence and Absence: The Performing Body in 2014. Parjad’s research interest is exploring designing techniques of expressive scenography and immersive performance in performing arts and urban design within the context of digital and interactive technologies. He is the Associate professor of scenography and theatre in School of Creative Arts at the University of The Fraser Valley and is also a member of Associated Designer of Canada.

Munish has been working in Theatre, TV, and Movies in Vancouver for over a decade. He is very grateful to be part of the wonderful team of Himmat. He’s very proud of his friend and colleague and overall wonderful human Gavan Cheema for bringing this much-needed and beautiful story to the stage. Munish was recently the Artistic Associates over at Pi Theatre, and this past summer created the pop-up dance show, Dance Like No One’s Watching with his mentor Richard Wolfe. Munish also made his directorial debut at the Globe Theatre in Regina this January directing his own play Mrs. Singh and Me. It will be available as an audio play on all major music streaming services in mid-march 2022. As a playwright, he is currently in the midst of bringing his next show, Danceboy to full production. You can catch Munish next as Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bard this summer!  Recent credits: Men Express Their Feelings (Zee Zee Theatre); A Thousand Splendid Suns (Arts Club), The Orchard [after Chekhov] (Arts Club), The Matchmaker (Arts Club); All’s Well that Ends Well (Bard on the Beach); Bombay Black (Raghupriya Arts and Culture); Victim Impact (Theatre Conspiracy).

Instagram: @munisharma

Paneet is a Punjabi-Sikh playwright and filmmaker whose work is largely inspired and informed by Sikh and South Asian cultures and history. Selected film and theatre credits include Press Breaker (Director/Co-Writer, 2021 Telus Storyhive/Diaspora Creative), Flowers From Venables (Director, Woodenbull Films 2021), The Ecstatic (Writer/Director, 2021 Indian Summer Festival), and Guards at the Taj (Director, 2019 Vancouver Fringe Festival). He also recently wrote an animated short on the Komagata Maru for Historica Canada. 

His two stageplays have received acclaim: The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson has sold out every performance since its 2016 premiere, and the critically-acclaimed A Vancouver Guldasta was an honourable mention in “The Best of Vancouver Theatre in 2018” by Vancouver Presents. Paneet was also picked as one of 2018’s “most exciting fresh faces to watch” and a “major player” in Vancouver’s South Asian Theatre community in 2019 by Colin Thomas.

More at: paneetsingh.com

Parm Soor was born in Punjab, India and raised in London, England. He studied Theatre at The University of Winnipeg. Stage highlights include The Arts Club productions of A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Orchard, and The Humans at The Stanley Theatre and The Men In White at The Granville Island Stage; A Vancouver Guldasta at The Cultch; MacBeth at The Firehall Arts Centre, Romeo and Juliet at The Kaleidoscope Theatre, and Coronation Voyage at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

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Sangeeta Wylie is a Vancouver-based actor and writer, with several credits in film, television and theatre. She has worked with Oscar nominated Deepa Mehta (Beeba Boys), who called her “exceptionally talented, genuine and fearless”. She played Pamela in Refuge (West Coast Premiere, Firehall) to rave reviews. Other selected credits: Film/TV: The Pishach, Siren, Some of Our Stallions, Haters Back Off, Nikita. Theatre: Les Belles Soeurs, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Inherit the Wind. Her first full-length play, we the same, inspired by a true story of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, had its World Professional Premiere with Ruby Slippers Theatre at The Cultch, Vancouver 2021. Sangeeta is grateful to be developing a new play with Lydie Dubuisson and Teesri Duniya’s Fireworks: New Play Development Program (Montreal), with a related poem published with Font Magazine. Sangeeta acts on the Board of Directors for The Cultch, plays classical piano, and holds degrees in Chemistry with a Music Minor and Dentistry.

You can google her. IMDB: www.imdb.me/sangeetawylie

Yvonne was born in colonial Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada with her family. She is a Vancouver based stage manager and Artistic Associate of Neworld Theatre. Recent credits include Bad Parent (VACT), Clean/Espejos (Neworld Theatre), East Van Panto: Alice in Wonderland (Theatre Replacement), and Inheritance: a pick the path experience (Alley Theatre & Touchstone Theatre). Favourite projects include King Arthur’s Night (Neworld Theatre), King of the Yees (Gateway Theatre), The Competition is Fierce (ItsaZoo), Fall Away Home (Boca del Lupo), and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites Tour (Canada, USA, Bahrain, and South Korea).

Photos by Wendy D Photography 

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