Saw another engaging and entertaining solo show at SummerWorks last night: Shaista Latif’s Graceful Rebellions, directed by Evalyn Parry (who also has a show in the fest: To Live in the Age of Melting: The Idea of North 2.0).
Playing across time, space and culture, Latif plays three Afghan women with interwoven lives: a 14-year-old serves tea and candied almonds at her older sister’s engagement party, and dreams of her own wedding day; a young woman lives and works as a boy to support her mother and sisters; a 17-year-old gay Afghan-Canadian girl pleads her case to the school principal. We later see the first young woman, grown up and living in Canada – and planning a surprise engagement party for her gay daughter.
Latif is a delightful performer, using a chest of costumes to make her character transformations, from the sweet, precocious 14-year-old, to the tough, pragmatic young woman/boy, to the extroverted, outspoken and out high school student. Each is searching for identity in the midst of their very different circumstances and environments; each is expected to be lovely and compliant – and each experiences her own version of attraction to women. And each embodies a strong sense of self and of love, resilient and adaptable, even as each faces her own battles, from war-torn Afghanistan to the bully in the hallway of a Canadian high school.