The Fish Eyes Trilogy: a coming-of-age solo show

Anita Majumdar will transform from character to character in The Fish Eyes Trilogy.| Photo by Andrew Alexander.

The Fish Eyes Trilogy, a theatre show with a focus on dance written and performed by actor, dancer and playwright Anita Majumdar, is coming to the Surrey Arts Centre Aug. 18.

“Anita brings a really fierce determination to explore how dance gets in your body and how dance expresses a character’s life, interests and their way of being,” says Brian Quirt, Artistic Director of Nightswimming. “I think [Majumdar] wrote Fish Eyes with Meena as the central character because she wanted to bring home that character’s perspective and point of view: how does this teenage girl understand her landscape?”

The high school experience

“[Majumdar] wanted to explore how the character was experiencing high school, the challenges of being compelled to be a South Asian classical dancer, the tension between her family, her teacher, her dance coach and her attraction to one of the boys in school,” says Quirt.

The solo show features choreography from Majumdar that includes varying types of dance such as Bollywood, hip hop and what Quirt deems a hybrid of both those styles.

“[Majumdar] is not only a fantastic actor – not only on stage but in film and TV, – she’s also an extremely skilled classical Indian dancer, so each of these characters is a dancer of varying types,” says Quirt.

The Fish Eyes Trilogy is a three-part play, which includes Boys with Cars, Let me Borrow that Top and Fish Eyes. Quirt says each part is the same event but shown from different perspectives. In the play Majumdar plays three teenagers, Naz, Candice and Meena, all of whom attend the same high school in Port Moody, B.C. Each part of the play focuses on one of the three teenagers.

“At a school assembly, two of the characters dance to Beyonce’s Survivor and something happens that I won’t reveal in that dance that affects all three teenagers,” says Quirt.

Quirt says Majumdar opted to do a solo show as she felt it would allow for a more powerful way to bring life to her character.

“Watching [Majumdar] transform from character to character to character, it really is beautiful and astonishing to see what she is able to achieve over the course of these three stories,” says Quirt.

A creative company

Quirt’s company Nightswimming is a creative company that commissions new plays, dance pieces and music from various artists.

“We develop them over how many years it takes to ensure they get on stage and in front of audiences,” says Quirt.

Quirt says the company provides the necessary tools to help artists create and refine their works, which includes resources such as an office space, a studio to work in, a workshop with actors to hear the play aloud and whatever else they may need.

“If we decide to collaborate with an artist, we often do so for years with multiple projects, we believe in what they say and how they say it and we do as much as possible to amplify their voices,” says Quirt. “In [Majumdar’s] case I also ended up directing this production of The Fish Eyes Trilogy.”

He says part of the attraction to The Fish Eyes Trilogy was the powerful writing.

“The play goes into what it’s like to be South Asian in a high school that is mostly white –what it means to be a dancer and to try and balance being a dancer with all the other things teenagers have to balance,” says Quirt.

For more information on the play and to get tickets, please visit www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/24164.aspx

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