Q&A: Pyaasa

Anusree Roy on remounting her Dora Award-winning play at Theatre Passe Muraille

Presented by Theatre Passe Muraille
Written by Anusree Roy
Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones

Anusree Roy in Pyaasa. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Anusree Roy's Pyaasa won two Dora Awards for Best New Play and Outstanding Performance by a Female in 2008. This month, the hit show returns to Theatre Passe Muraille for a new audience of theatregoers.

Set in Calcutta, Pyaasa (meaning “thirsty” in Hindi) tells the story of Chaya, an eleven-year-old untouchable who dreams of nothing more than learning her times table. When Chaya’s mother begs a woman from a higher caste to give Chaya a job at a local tea stall, Chaya’s journey from childhood to adulthood begins and ends over ten days.

Here, we chat with Roy about her personal connection to the production.

Theatromania: Tell us about Pyaasa. What inspired this play?

AR: Ten years ago when I was doing my Masters at U of T with Thomas, I was sharing my life stories with him over sushi one day. We started to speak about the caste system in India and I was sharing my experiences within the system. And he said to me: Anusree, there is a play in these stories. You should write it. Initially I was hesitant as we had to write so many essays for our courses, but he insisted and gabe me a three-week deadline. And Pyaasa was born.

Theatromania: How does it feel to be revisiting the show at Theatre Passe Muraille after eight years? Has your perspective or approach changed at all?

AR: It feels great! Working at Theatre Passe Muraille always feels like coming back home. Andy McKim and the entire staff have been so kind to the entire team. Getting back to the script after a five-year break has been humbling. It's in a way visiting an old friend, everything is familiar yet things are different because time has passed.

Theatromania: What do you hope audiences take away from this performance?

AR: I hope the audience is inspired to have an awareness of the effects of privilege. I hope I am able to shine a light on the caste system, which is an abolished form of segregation that is still prevalent and practiced today.

Theatromania: What's next for you?

AR: I am moving to Stratford in two weeks to perform Breath of Kings. And I am working on a new pilot and continuing writing commissions with Factory Theatre and Nightwood Theatre.

See Anusree Roy in Pyaasa until March 27, 2016 at Theatre Passe Muraille. Visit passemuraille.ca for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Thu, 2016-03-03 - Sun, 2016-03-27


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.