A fish out of water

artist in profile

Performer Anita Majumdar aims to truthfully portray South Asians in theatre, film and television in her work.
Performer Anita Majumdar aims to truthfully portray South Asians in theatre, film and television in her work.
Anita Majumdar performs as many different characters in her one woman show Fish Eyes.
Anita Majumdar performs as many different characters in her one woman show Fish Eyes.

Who are you?

Anita Majumdar

What’s your profession?


Where can someone find you?

I guess you could Google me (www.fish-eyes.com / www.themisfit.ca ) or Facebook (we have both Fish Eyes and The Misfit group pages), but you can physically find me in Toronto when I’m not traveling for work.

Where do you live and work and why?

I split my living and working between Toronto and Vancouver (and whatever other establishment wants to hire me!). Why? After I graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada (in Montreal), Toronto seemed like a natural place to move to for access to both theatre and film work. I grew up in Vancouver, so I like to return and share my work with my hometown.

How would you describe your show Fish Eyes?

Fish Eyes is the first in a developing trilogy of solo shows I’m writing (The Misfit being the second). It follows 17-year-old Meena, a classically trained Indian dancer who spends all her weekends dancing at various South Asian events, festivals and of course dance classes. She secretly dreams of hooking up with Buddy Cain, the popular guy at her high school in Bollywood-style song and dance fantasies. Meena blames her Indian dance life for standing in the way of her dreams. Her dance teacher, Kalyani Aunty who treats Meena like a daughter, tries to encourage Meena to embrace her heritage and her talents, but when Meena finds out that Buddy has started dating Candice, the popular girl at her high school, Meena’s world falls apart and she pushes everything and everyone away and is forced to redefine her identity. Fish Eyes has toured nationally and internationally for the last five years since its inception.

What inspires you?

Injustice ... inequality ... both past and present. Sometimes on a grand scale, sometimes just the injustices found in the day-to-day. It inspires me to speak up.

What’s the nicest thing someone has said about your work? I had a gentleman come up to me after a performance, “I didn’t think I was going to like that, but I really did so thank you.” Theatre/storytelling isn’t just about pandering to what audiences already know and want, but it’s also about introducing them to worlds they didn’t know were out there.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your work?

After performing the lead role of a play with a few dance sequences in it someone asked me, “You’re a wonderful dancer ... do you act as well?”

What are your current obsessions?

1. Portraying South Asians in theatre/film/tv authentically and truthfully in my work

2. Moksha (hot) Yoga 3.Traditional Chinese Medicine 4.Watching 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother episodes back to back

When someone says “Kingston” you think...

I think of the Kingston bus station. Whenever I was homesick at the National Theatre School, I used to take the bus from Montreal to Toronto to visit my high school best friend and her husband. The Kingston bus station was always a signifier of how far I had traveled and how much further I had to go. The bus station food was also pretty “entertaining”; you always had to take a wild guess what was on that hot plate!

What are you currently working on?

I’m playing the lead in a show called Rice Boy playing at the Stratford Festival. I’m Playwright-in-Residence with Nightswimming Theatre where I will spend the rest of the year writing a play called, Aisha n’ Ben, which explores the issue of desiring fair skin amongst Canadians from Asian/South Asian heritages all set against a Bollywood backdrop.

I’m also beginning work on third and last one-woman play in my solo show trilogy called Hindi Cinema Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Men, which follows love and loss through the perspective of university, competitive team Bhangra, a folk dance celebrating the earth/harvest that’s particular to Punjab (India) which has gained popularity across North America in the last 10 years.

Anita Majumdar performs Fish Eyes Monday at 8 p.m. in Convocation Hall, Theological Hall. Tickets can be purchased at the drama department office from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for $3 or at the door.

—Emily Whalen

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