For many kids, the high school experience can be brutal, but for kids of a visible minority it can be even more so. In Anita Majumdar’s The Fish Eyes Trilogy (Part 1) that experience is brought to life in a wonderful mix of storytelling and dance that will have you appreciating that for all its warts, there is a reason to celebrate a country that wraps itself in its multicultural fabric.
[pullquote]A delightful look at teen angst on its surface, where Fish Eyes excels is in digging deeper to remind us that it really is possible to embrace your heritage without losing your identity. You can’t get more Canadian than that.[/pullquote]Fish Eyes is the first in Majumdar’s trilogy that also includes Boys with Cars and Let Me Borrow That Top (both of which play on alternate nights at the PuSH Festival). Despite being part of a trilogy, it is a piece that can stand on its own as it tells the story of Meena, a 17-year old Indo-Canadian who is in her last year of school at Port Moody Senior Secondary. Like many young girls she is more interested in boys and simply surviving her final year at high school than exploring her roots. Encouraged by her “aunty”, she at first embraces her cultural heritage by being part of an Indian dance group, but quickly abandons it when she realizes that it won’t necessarily get her the boy.
At its surface Majumdar’s story of teen heartache is pleasant (and funny) enough, but it is the multitude of layers that lie just beneath that make this piece sing. Through Meena and the other characters she expertly portrays, Majumdar explores everything from colonialism to cultural appropriation.
In addition to her ample skills as a storyteller, Majumdar is an accomplished dancer and even manages to add additional layers to her dance numbers as she uses a mix of traditional Indian music and Western pop. She even takes on the patriarchy of Indian culture in a particularly memorable number while wearing a fake moustache.
A delightful look at teen angst on its surface, where Fish Eyes excels is in digging deeper to remind us that it really is possible to embrace your heritage without losing your identity. You can’t get more Canadian than that.
The Fish Eyes Trilogy written, choreographed and performed by Anita Majumdar. Directed by Brian Quirt. A Cultch and PuSh Performing Arts Festival presentation of a Nightswimming production. Part 1 (Fish Eyes) and Part 2 + 3 (Boys with Cars and Let Me Borrow That Top) play on alternating nights until January 31 at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver). Visit http://thecultch.com for tickets and information.