These are the elements of The Sheep and the Whale, the music and movement-infused play by Moroccan-born Canadian writer Ahmed Ghazali, getting its English-language premiere Feb. 13 in Toronto.
The drama, which had its French-language premiere in 2001 at Théâtre de Quat'Sous in Montreal in 2001, was awarded the SACD French-language Playwriting Prize (2001). It opens Feb. 20 at Theatre Passe Muraille's Mainspace in Toronto. Performances will continue to March 11.
Cahoots Theatre Projects and Modern Times Stage Company in association with Theatre Passe Muraille present the play, in a translation by Montreal's Bobby Theodore. Modern Times' artistic director Soheil Parsa directs.
The work is described this way: "A small boat full of Moroccans has sunk in the Strait of Gibraltar. A Russian freighter recovers several bodies and one survivor. Neither Morocco nor Spain will claim the bodies. As negotiations unfold throughout the night, crew members hunt stowaways aboard the ship while the doctor tries to save them and a couple's future hangs in the balance. In this shimmering epic, the world's dramas are played out on the ship's littered deck."
According to the producers, "The Sheep and the Whale examines some of the most pressing issues of our age: the tide of refugees desperately seeking better lives; the widening gap between have and have-not states; the search for national identity in a borderless world. It is a play that literally navigates the human divide." The creative team includes set designer Camellia Koo, lighting designer Trevor Schwellnus, costume designer Nina Okens, sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne. Kendra Fry produces.
The cast includes Oporajito Bhattacharjee, David Collins, Soo Garay, Elie Gemael, Timothy Hill, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Karim Morgan, John Ng, Debbie Nichols, Julian Richings, Andy Velasquez and Jim Warren.
In the production, music, dance and sacred ritual "are seamlessly interwoven with haunting poetic images."
Theatre Passe Muraille is at 16 Ryerson Avenue. The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Saturday and Sunday 2 PM.
Tickets are $10-$30.
For more information, call (416) 504-7529 or visit www.artsboxoffice.ca or www.thesheepandthewhale.com.