World Theatre Day: Azal Dosanjh

Azal Dosanjh

I was eight years old when I began a seven-year-long informal training in theatre. My parents had compelled me to join a theatre camp instead of an arts and crafts camp. Perhaps they foresaw something else that I was more capable of (or maybe they just knew I was a horrific painter). Those seven years formed the basis of what I know and respect in theatre today. Gradually, theatre became an intrinsic part of my identity. I started producing and directing my own shows – albeit very small in scale – at the age of 15. However, living in India, it wasn’t a realization, but rather an accepted truth that you could not truly pursue theatre as a viable career option. So, at the age of 18, I propelled myself onto the beautiful rocky island of Newfoundland and within a year theatre became the only subject I longed and laboured for. Back in India, I grew up learning from an array of unique theatre makers, and that trend carried on when I started practicing theatre in Newfoundland. My deeply gravitating and sublimely aggressive love for theatre continued to channel through the various mentors I met here. Through the brilliant artists of this island, my scope with which to consume art — and in turn, to showcase my art — kept on expanding.

Canada is still learning to open their borders, not just physically, but ideologically. By inviting someone like me onto the dance floor, the celebration of a New Age theatre inherently becomes a place where structures and definitions contradict and complement each other.

I narrate my journey so far as it perhaps offers a fresh cluster of ingenuity to the mosaic of Canadian theatre – a collage still under construction. My assumption on how much I understand the future of this art form keeps on evolving, as it should. There are a few things I can state with utter confidence, while some sentiments are still encased in unrelenting hope and desire. Canada is still learning to open their borders, not just physically, but ideologically. By inviting someone like me onto the dance floor, the celebration of a New Age theatre inherently becomes a place where structures and definitions contradict and complement each other. I reflect on the layers of learning I bring into a room in admiration, and I thank the second voice in the room for bringing their own layers of learning. By opening artistic spaces for voices – that often fail to find representation where they originate from and where they settle – the theatre community invests in a future that paints the picture of a massive generational shift.  

The emerging voice is becoming louder, it is booming — and while there are some hesitations, unfulfilled desires, and unfinished work, I believe that on a macro scale, we are questioning and confronting the existing structures, narratives, and designs that have stood still for decades with an extremely keen eye.

That said, the generational shift in an art form like theatre is not easy to identify. After all, at its core, theatre encourages the everlasting feeling of freedom, so how can I of such a tender mind define and predict what the grand wills of this generation’s artists will bring? Every day, I witness pre-existing structures crumbling around me and new foundations assembling. I see that we have answers that you do not — here you go — and here we have some questions we do not have answers for — can you help us please? As more answers arrive and bloom on this land, they bring with them — and rightly so — a raging wave of questions. Those who have come to this country to make it home and those who have grown up calling it their home all question our foundations and our practices every single day. Essentially, it is these questions that make up the future footprint of Canadian theatre. The emerging voice is becoming louder, it is booming — and while there are some hesitations, unfulfilled desires, and unfinished work, I believe that on a macro scale, we are questioning and confronting the existing structures, narratives, and designs that have stood still for decades with an extremely keen eye. I sit and gawk in awe as new discoveries and explorations flourish the Canadian stage.

Azal Dosanjh
Memorial University

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About World Theatre Day

Created in 1961 by UNESCO, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on March 27 by theatre communities around the globe. This year, we chose to turn to the next generation of artists and creators who have graduated from theater schools across the country into a world that was crumbling and in which the very necessity of the performing arts was being questioned.  

Today you’ll see the faces of theatre school graduates on the NAC's Kipnes Lantern, and we asked three of them to take the pen for the occasion. See it all here.

Learn more

Professional Association of Canadian Theatre (PACT)

2022 World Theatre Day messages by Debajehmujig Theatre Group, Makambe K. Simamba and Mishka Lavigne

2022 World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People message by Lionel Lehouillier

Conseil québécois du théâtre (CQT)

Quebec message for World Theatre Day Théâtre by Rebecca Deraspe

Théâtre Action

Mot du Théâtre franco-ontarien 2022 by Karine Ricard


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