By Amrita Kumar-Ratta
There is a new solo show in town, a 75-minute immersive and site specific piece called Undercover Indian, written and performed by rising star Ankita Kumar-Ratta and directed and dramaturged by the Artistic Director of Soulo Theatre, Tracey Erin Smith.
Based on Ankita’s experiences and reflections as a first generation Canadian, born in Waterloo and raised in Brampton, Ontario, on returning to her ancestral homeland of India for two years, and then journeying back Canada, this show is part of new kind of theatre where the personal and universal merge on the stage.
This kind of theatre is what Director Tracey Erin Smith has been introducing for the past five years here in Toronto, New York and Tel Aviv. Her recent productions have been the Clergy Project about three of Toronto’s prominent religious leaders from diverse faiths sharing their personal joys and struggles as members of the clergy, and Newsgirl about the Toronto boxing legend Savoy Howe.
And now Undercover Indian by Ankita Kumar-Ratta in four shows on Nov 4, 5 and 11 at Kula Yoga Annex, 304 Brunswick Avenue in Toronto.
Ankita studied Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto, and has been working as an artist and arts educator in Toronto’s theatre scene for several years with great passion. After finishing her undergraduate degree, rather than pursuing further studies to become a Doctor, Lawyer or Engineer, in the summer of 2014 Ankita set off on a journey, which turned into a two year stay in India in search of her cultural and spiritual roots. For two years, Ankita went ‘undercover’ in India, probing and questioning everything: India’s social mores and traditions, its chaos and tranquility, its affections and distances, its past and its future.
In fact, Ankita calls her show a tribute to Mother India. She says in her promotional material, “Thank you, Mother India, for everything that you taught me; I am forever grateful to be yours.”
But the show is not just about Ankita’s journey to India. The reality of reverse culture shock, of seeing Canada through a new set of eyes, is something that Ankita engages with in a witty and heartfelt manner.
Through narration, music, dance and movement, Ankita presents a witty and delicious peek under the covers at an experience that many Canadians can relate to we but often keep hidden.
As you watch Undercover Indian, you will laugh, and you will cry, and you will leave with a deep appreciation for the paradoxes and conundrums of trying to find home in two very different places.
Undercover Indian is being performed in Toronto between November 4-11, 2017 for 4 shows only. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.soulo.ca/underoverindian.
Amrita Kumar-Ratta is a lifelong learner, a passionate traveler, an advocate for the arts, and a self-proclaimed transnational feminist activist.