Rice Boy, Canadian Play About Two Worlds, Begins at Stratford Fest

News   Rice Boy, Canadian Play About Two Worlds, Begins at Stratford Fest
 
Playwright Sunil Kuruvilla's Rice Boy — one of three Canadian plays to open this month at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Studio Theatre — begins previews Aug. 11 in Stratford, Ontario.

The award-winning drama "explores universal themes of love, loss and the nature of identity," according to the festival. The play had its world premiere in 2000 at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Rice Boy features Araya Mengesha as Tommy, a 12-year-old boy who returns with his father to his parents' native India for the first time since his mother's tragic drowning there ten years earlier. According to production notes, "Accustomed only to life in Canada, Tommy has a difficult time adjusting to India. But he forms a bond with his 16-year-old cousin, Tina [played by Anita Majumdar], a housebound paraplegic who is awaiting her arranged marriage to a man she has never met. As Tommy begins to show her the world beyond her front porch, he learns to see it with new eyes."

Opening is Aug. 22. Guillermo Verdecchia, who, like the playwright, grew up in an immigrant family in Canada, directs.

"Rice Boy moves me at a very personal level because Tommy's struggles to make sense of his family, of his cultural inheritance, and his memories, mirror my own," Verdecchia stated. "I've long argued and worked for a pluralistic theatre that represents the rich diversity of experience, voice and history that comprises our country. I'm delighted to be part of this Stratford production of Rice Boy, a play that so beautifully explores the pressures and pleasures of the intercultural reality of our lives."

Rice Boy also features Deena Aziz as Auntie, Raoul Bhaneja as Father, Sam Moses as Grandfather, Jonathan Purdon as Mr. Harris, Anand Rajaram as Fish Seller, Sanjay Talwar as Uncle and Asha Vijayasingham as Servant Girl. A finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award, Sunil Kuruvilla graduated from the Yale School of Drama's playwriting program. His work has been produced at many theatres including the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, the La Jolla Playhouse and the Canadian Stage Company. He has also written screenplays for CTV and Showtime. His teachers have included Robert Blacker, Mark Bly, Liz Diamond, Alistair MacLeod, Donald Margulies and the late Anthony Minghella. His awards include the Truman Capote Literary Fellowship and the Cole Porter ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Performers) Award. He lives in Waterloo, ON, with his wife, Lisa, and son, Isaac, and works at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Rice Boy is designed by Jessica Poirier-Chang, with lighting design by Robert Thomson and sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne. Robert Blacker is the dramaturg. Simon Fon is the stunt coordinator.

Rice Boy runs to Oct. 3. To purchase tickets, call the box office at (800) 567-1600 or order online by visiting stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

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The other two Canadian plays in the Stratford Studio season are a revival of George F. Walker's Zastrozzi and the world premiere of Morris Panych's The Trespassers.

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