Dialogues with wounded hearts: is it possible to transcend pain through art?

Photo courtesy of Indian Summer Fest

The pandemic offers people the opportunity to heal the inner landscape of the human soul, says Anosh Irani, a Vancouver-based author. Irani addresses the human subterranean in an online hybrid between a play and a film, creating a space for conversation with the audience at the 2021 Indian Summer Festival (July 15–17).

“I always write about characters who are wounded,” says Irani.

The film/play asks important questions to its viewers: Is it possible for someone to transcend pain? And also – can wisdom be found in pain?

What disturbs?

Living in Vancouver since 1998 and teaching Creative Writing in the World Literature Program at Simon Fraser University, Irani’s works have been nominated for prizes like CBC Radio’s Canada Reads, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

Now, the author premieres a new work at the 2021 online edition of the Indian Summer Festival. Called Transcendence, the piece sits in the space between theatre and film, directed by Lois Anderson and featuring powerful performances by Munish Sharma and Laara Sadiq.

On the virtual stage, characters will confront the answer in three monologues.

Transcendence comprises three monologues from my previous plays,” says Irani. “These wounded individuals will speak directly to the viewer, and in doing so they create a space for conversations.”

From a recent reading of Ezekiel’s Scorpion, Irani reveals human interactions burned into his memory from youth which still remain as a contemplating adult passing by in his vehicle seeing humans “waiting to be touched.”

“We humans do not deserve to have a sense of touch, “ says Irani, reading Ezekiel’s Scorpion. “The pandemic is telling us that.”

After the Transcendence presentation, a live discussion will follow a recorded 15-minute piece. To the writer, Transcendence cannot be viewed in isolation because it is linked to participation, to the live conversation – making the audience involved in the answering of those questions about pain.

Anosh Iranis’ Transcendence – a play, film and provocation – explores the human subterranean and the answers that may lie with the spirit guides who live among us. | Photo by Nirmal Shah

Indian Summer Festival 2021

Showcasing the recent pandemic, the Indian Summer Festival encourages a focus on healing wounds. The 2021 Indian Summer Festival, its eleventh edition, strives to be a loving and fierce space for art production, with curatorial selection of works that aim to dismantle walls, to play with ideas and to provoke necessary dialogues and debates within the Vancouver community.

“[Now is the time to] transform from being wounded to healing,” says Irani recently to the Georgia Straight.

Addressing the collaborative production, Irani says Transcendence explores the human subterranean and the answers that may lie with the spirit guides who live among us.

“The word subterranean suggests something that is secret, hidden, concealed. This takes me back to the wounds within us,” he says. “They are below the surface, deep; however, during the past year, since we have been forced to isolate, there has been a lot of self-examination as well.”

Presenting acclaimed international and local artists, connecting Vancouver to itself and the world, the Indian Summer Festival offers audiences multi-arts experiences curating through a South Asian lens, centering the work of culturally diverse artists.

The programming offers works from across literature, music, visual arts and the performing arts. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year the event will be held in a virtual form, including hybrid features and immersive elements to bridge the gap in human connection.

Following the launch of Transcendence, Irani and Anderson will join ISF’s artistic director Sirish Rao as well as guest luminaries from the literary and theatre world in a conversation about the act of transformation.

“So, the wounds that were deep within us have moved more to the surface,” says Irani. “And it can be overwhelming.”

Irani has his works translated into 11 languages and has four critically acclaimed novels.

For more information, please visit www.indiansummerfest.ca