Pat Donnelly – The Gazette theatre critic, (Sept. 2, 2009)
Teesri Duniya Theatre is dedicated to producing socially and politically relevant plays based on cultural experiences of communities living in Canada. Reflecting the multicultural-multiracial and aboriginal reality of Canada, our work aims to bring critical thinking on important issues, connect communities and generate an intercultural dialogue. We tell peoples’ stories that are aesthetically outstanding and socially engaging. The company is committed to multiethnic casting and compelling stories.
Teesri Duniya Theatre is engaged in four interlinked areas of activities: productions, play and playwright development, publication of the theatre quarterly alt.theatre, cultural diversity and the stage, and an Artists and Community project.
Being comprised of the Aboriginal and different cultures, people, languages and histories, Canada presents us an opportunity to build a nation of shared values enriched by the arts, art-forms and literature. With that vision, we are committed to giving voice to Canadians of Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latino, mixed-race, First Nations, and European origin through plays that represent them as well as build cultural bridges. Our work is situated at the intersection of culture, class, gender focusing on social justice; above all on artistic merit, excellence and work’s ability to create critical thinking. Considering multicultural diversity as integral to Canada’s social fabric, we present plurality of new voices telling contemporary stories that are provocative and entertaining at the same time.
Founded by Rahul Varma and Rana Bose as a South Asian company in 1981, today, Teesri Duniya Theatre is one of the handfuls of culturally inclusive companies in Canada, and the only one in Quebec, producing plays by visible minorities, First Nations, as well as dominant cultures.
Starting with plays in Hindi on issues affecting the South Asian diaspora, by the mid-nineteen-eighties the company moved on to producing plays reflecting other ethno-cultural communities. With institutional reforms to overcome Eurocentric biases, starting in mid-nineties, the company became eligible to access public arts funding and with it came a string of fully professional plays. Teesri became the home-stage for culturally diverse plays and voices marginalized by the dominant national theatre. For more than 35 years, Teesri has radically changed the face of Canadian theatre by staging culturally diverse and politically prophetic plays in English, French and other languages. We represent a plurality of voices; bring to the fore communities that are under-represented and highlight characters who are drawn from the entire cultural spectrum of Canada.
95% of our productions are ground breaking premiers directed by leading directors including India’s iconic director Lt. Habib Tanvir. Majority of our directors are women. Our productions range from Counter Offence and GG winner Reading Hebron (1990s) to My Name is Rachel Corrie, and GG-winning First Nations play Where the Blood Mixes (2012) to dance-theatre The Encounters to international hit Bhopal. Teesri has launched careers of a large number of visible minority artists and playwrights. New plays and playwrights are at the heart of Teesri’s vision. We exist to produce bold, ground breaking and culturally diverse plays that provoke conversation.
In 1988, artistic director Rahul Varma and Kapil Bawa founded alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage (1988), which is Canada’s only magazine dedicated to news and views about the intersections between politics, cultural plurality, social activism, and the stage. Past editor-in-chief continues to serve on the editorial board while current editor-in-chief is Nikki Shaffeeullah. Through alt.theatre, we collaborate with the academia and theatre research. Our plays and writings are widely published and anthologized, and we participate in university-based research projects.