Vancouver’s Alley Theatre, in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf, presents the world premiere of Catfish, an ASL/English hybrid play, at this year’s rEvolver Festival.
This play was inspired by my experiences growing up hard of hearing and my own journey of self-love. – Simrin Gill
A slang term meaning to seduce someone by using a false identity online, Catfish is the story of Michelle who, Deaf without her hearing aids, is catapulted into a wave of lies as she misrepresents herself online and uses her hearing friend’s voice to entice the new guy at high school.
From the depths of her deception, Michelle turns her search for love and acceptance inward in an earnest exploration of identity and self-love, asking the question: can she find the strength to share her true Deaf, Punjabi self with the world?
“This play was inspired by my experiences growing up hard of hearing and my own journey of self-love,” says co-writer and performer Simran Gill. “It’s also about the very real dangers of finding your way through online relationships, especially for young people,”
Gill wrote the play with her hearing friend Jess Amy Shead after the two met while working on Alley Theatre’s The Ridiculous Darkness in 2017.
In addition to Gill, Catfish features a mix of Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors, including co-creator Jess Amy Shead, Matheus Severo, Thurga Kanagasekarampillai and Kelsi James.
The play is co-directed by Chris Dodd (Deaf), the artistic director of Edmonton’s Sound Off, Canada’s only Deaf arts festival and Gavan Cheema (Hearing), the co-artistic director of Vancouver’s Theatre Conspiracy and a recent Sam Payne award-winner. The play also features music by Juno Award nominee Ruby Singh.
To create this dual-language and cross-cultural play, Alley Theatre hired a team of professional ASL interpreters and worked with an ASL coach and translator.
“Catfish is a groundbreaking new work,” says co-director Dodd. “Audiences can expect a rich and dynamic experience that captures the high school experience with the use of digital technologies and interweaves ASL and English while remaining accessible to all.”
Catfish plays as part of the 2023 rEvolver Festival and will be performed at the Vancity Culture Lab (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) on May 24, 26, 31 & June 1. Visit upintheairtheatre.com for tickets and information.