With Canada having just celebrated 150 years of Confederation, it seems somehow fitting Persian actress Nasrin Jamali is about to make her English language stage debut in Vancouver.
But this is no ordinary debut, as Jamali tackles Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s A Woman Alone as a step towards becoming a Canadian.
In our Q&A we find out more about this one-woman show and how Jamali has used it to help with her Canadian permanent resident application.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about A Woman Alone.
Sharron pours her soul out to her neighbor through the window of her apartment in which she’s is locked up by her jealous husband. She tells the story and the reasoning behind her imprisonment and during the play the audience realizes that she is not unhappy about it at all, until the shocking twist at the end. This is a play that will make you laugh, cry and think about the struggles some women face on a day to day basis.
You are originally from Iran. What brought you to Canada and why this play as your North American English language debut?
The reason I got back to theatre after so many years is because I had to do this for the permanent residency application. Having no time to learn the language I came across this idea of putting myself in a position where I’d have to learn fast by doing what I love. This would also give me a chance to introduce my philosophy in life.
What attracted you A Woman Alone?
I chose A Woman Alone not because she is “alone” or because she is a woman. I chose this piece because it is in harmony with the way I see life, or better yet, it is close to my ideology. I am not just an actor, I am also a writer who writes about the philosophy of life and one’s true self.
For me Sharon isn’t oppressed by her environment; in fact I believe that A Woman Alone represents anyone in any gender, who is a slave to their senses. Yes, the five senses which control us in our everyday lives and make us follow them in any direction regardless of what our goal is and where we plan to go. They become the decider.
The play was originally written in the 70s – how does it remain relevant in 2017?
Even though it is 2017 we still haven’t really changed, philosophically speaking.
Does the English translation hold true to the play’s origins?
Yes. When I decided to play this piece I compared the languages and I realized that it is much more fluid and interesting in English. I will however play it in French in the future.
I’d also like to add that after living in France for 14 years, I discovered that my body and my movements have become very French. On the other hand I am profoundly attached to my Persian culture. Now combine those with the English language and that to me is a marriage between different cultures and different ideas, which is very symbolic to me.
A Woman Alone is described as a farce. What is about this particular genre that helps tell the story?
With comedy we can exaggerate the situation which gives us a chance to realize and see what we couldn’t possibly see before. So, instead of crying we can laugh, even at ourselves. Once we laugh we can get up, and that is when we have a choice to not be a victim anymore and do this about the situation we are in.
What do you hope audiences will walk away with after seeing A Woman Alone?
Don’t take yourselves too serious.
A Woman Alone plays the PAL Studio Theatre (581 Cardero St, Vancouver) from July 4-8. Tickets are available online.