Character was love at first reading for actor
Star of 9 Parts of Desire fell for role’s sense of hope
It’s rare to play a character that you fall completely head over heels in love with, says Anusree Roy.
It’s not that the North York actor and playwright never identifies with her characters. But more often than not, they don’t speak to her own psyche and her own feelings as much as playing Amal does.
The character is one of nine stars in Seventh Stage Theatre Productions’ 9 Parts of Desire running at downtown’s Theatre Centre May 19-23.
The play, which is written by Heather Raffo, directed by Kelly Straughan and features original music by Juno nominee Maryem Hassan Tollar, looks at the lives and stories of nine very different Iraqi women.
Characters alongside Amal include a sexy painter, a young girl obsessed with Justin Timberlake, a radical Communist and an Iraqi American desperate to contact her family in the Middle East.
The play ran to critical acclaim off-Broadway in New York City and in London’s West-End before coming to Toronto for the Canadian premiere.
It’s passionate, thought-provoking and relatable on so many levels, says Roy, who is joined onstage by a diverse cast including Melissa Jane Shaw, Aviva Armour-Ostroff and Deborah Grover.
Roy auditioned for the role of the voluptuous and vivacious Amal last year.
“I really wanted to play the part,” says Roy, a multiple Dora Award winning artist, a day before the cast began rehearsals.
“Amal is filled with hope. One thing I love about her is that she loves and learns to have hope.
“She is always questioning her past, her present, her future.”
Amal, says Roy, doesn’t have the best of life experiences. A mother of two children, Amal’s first husband cheats on her while her second husband has another wife, leaving Amal to not only care for her own children but the other wife’s eight children.
Desperate to find love, Amal meets a third man, only to find out after a year of talking with him on the phone and connecting to him on a deep spiritual level, that he wants nothing to do with her because of her appearance.
“Amal is always trying to find peace. She often talks about the difference between freedom and peace.”
While Roy, isn’t married and doesn’t have children, the feelings and experiences Amal undergoes throughout the production are relatable on an universal level.
The sense of unworthiness or feeling fat or ugly are common feelings all women, no matter what background they come from experience, says Roy, whose theatre credits include the playwright and performer of Pyaasa at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2007, Letters to my Grandma at U of T’s F.O.O.T Festival the same year and the solo piece Breathlessness for Tarragon Theatre’s 2006 Spring Arts Fair.
“(The questions) of ‘Am I fat?’ ‘Am I beautiful?’ ‘Am I pretty?’ … Those are so human. I get it.”
Roy hopes audiences get it too.
“Amal becomes a friend,” she continues. “I get her on a deeper level.
“She eventually leaves all the people she knows to find peace. She is constantly looking for love.”
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