Teesri Duniya Theatre presents


A thought-provoking case for social justice

Rahul Varma’s Counter Offence captures the pulse of Quebec politics circa 1995. First produced in the mid-90’s to critical acclaim and followed by the French translation L’Affaire Farhadi with similar success, the memory play remains as current and compelling as ever—this is not a period piece. Domestic abuse and hate crimes targeting religion and ethnicity have been on the increase, and accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic. This important show, presented at the Segal Centre from March 15-April 2, is guided by rising director Murdoch Schon. Continuing their mandate to encourage dialogue, the company will hold post-show talkbacks.

“You turned my crime against my wife into a crime against my race.” — Shapoor

Rahul Varma

Rahul Varma, writer

Counter Offence is a collision of virtues. What happens when the fight against racism comes into conflict with the struggle to end violence against women? This gripping murder-mystery explores the intersection of the two issues. The play is set in Montreal in 1995 with Jacques Parizeau’s infamous referendum line about the ‘ethnic vote’ still fresh in the news (repercussions persist). Shazia, an Indo-Québecoise woman with traditional Muslim parents, is in an abusive relationship with her husband Shapoor, an Iranian facing immigration issues. When a body is suddenly found, everyone is a suspect as lines between what is right and wrong become blurred, and officials satisfy their own agendas. Working backwards through flashbacks, both sides of the issue are investigated, examining the consequences of gender versus race and skin-colour. In this serious play with moments of real humour, audiences continue to question their own biases almost 30 years later.

Multi-award winning published playwright and Teesri Duniya Theatre’s Artistic Director, Rahul Varma is inspired to see the variety of ethnicities, languages and cultural backgrounds on stage and behind the scenes for Counter Offence. “This is a play that touches everyone, so representation is important,” said Varma. “Domestic violence affects every community, and racism does not just come from one side or the other. Today’s news is filled with racism between people of the same colour from the same country. Issues of racial profiling, multiculturalism and gender are complicated, with no easy answer forthcoming. This is a story that needs to urgently be told.”

Murdoch Schon

Murdoch Schon, director

Every company member feels the play is so relevant, it’s heartbreaking. Reflecting the streets of Montreal, the talented, culturally diverse cast, including among other backgrounds Persian, South Asian, Egyptian, Jamaican and Greek actors, is Arash Ebrahimi, Oliver Price, Andrew Joseph Richardson, Howard Rosenstein, Ambica Sharma, Amanda Silveira, Sophie-Thérèse Stone-Richards and Aladeen Tawfeek.

“It is exciting to work with this cast who are all so passionate about theatre and the difference it can make in our lives,” said director Murdoch Schon. “So much more than great entertainment, Counter Offence is an arena for starting conversations. The play highlights what has and hasn’t changed since the mid-90’s; where have we come from, where do we need to make gains?”

“Resolving racism and misogyny is an ongoing battle, never clear-cut or simple. Change is slow and incidents come in many subtle, hidden forms. Patterns that appear so clear to a marginalised or targeted group go completely unnoticed by an unaffected group, unless it’s pointed out to them. This play is part of that pointing out. The play also shows the messiness in activism; there are no ideal heroes,” said Sophie-Thérèse Stone-Richards (Clarinda). For Aladeen Tawfeek (Moolchand), it is the storyteller’s duty and aspiration “to try and change the world for the better by offering a different perspective, a chance to think deeper. Counter Offence should be necessary viewing for the collective good of our society,” he said.

“This is just the latest inequity we have faced since our ancestors stepped on the soil of Canada—the Chinese head tax, spouses kept apart after marriage because of the so-called immigration backlog, the long list of indignities and crimes visited upon our native peoples… History can’t be rewritten but hopefully can inform the crafting of a more just future.” — Moolchand

Content Warning: Violence and strong language
Minimum age: 14+

Segal Centre for Performing Arts
5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd.

To purchase your tickets visit: www.segalcentre.org or call 514-739-7944

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