The Baklawa Recipe at Centaur Theatre

2 person on stage cooking pastries
The Baklawa Recipe – © Antoine Saito

Centaur Theatre begins its mainstage New Year with The Baklawa Recipe. Written by Pascale Rafie, a Canadian-Lebanese playwright and drama professor, The Baklawa Recipe runs until February 18th, 2018. For those of you who have not yet tasted a baklawa, it is a sweet dessert made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.

The Baklawa Recipe has travelled far during its gestation, beginning its journey as La Recette de baklawas. It received its first French public reading at the 2012 Festival du Monde Arabe and its first English public reading at Imago Theatre’s Her Side of the Story in 2016.

2 persons on stage playing
The Baklawa Recipe – © Antoine Saito

In the play, 1960s Quebec is juxtaposed with contemporary society and seen through an immigrant lens. Two young Lebanese women emigrate from their homeland to start new lives in Ville-St-Laurent. Forever bound when they marry two Canada-born Lebanese brothers, they struggle to integrate the traditional female roles of their close-knit community with the emerging face of the independent woman of the feminist movement.

The mothers and their first-generation Canadian daughters personify the challenges of living between two worlds: one shaped by their cultural origins and the other by their adopted home. Two generations of women, their joys and complexities, as warm and sweet as Baklawa.

4 actors on stage
The Baklawa Recipe – © Antoine Saito

The characters in the play were inspired by Ms. Rafie’s own immigrant family. “I wanted to feature these women, who are exiled from themselves by immigration and culture shock, certainly, but who are also set apart by judging eyes, competition, illness, and silence. These women came here to have a better life and fulfill their dreams. It wasn’t easy and they struggled, tried to be better. I want audiences to understand them, love them and feel their pain, so they can empathize with the immigrants flowing into Canada today. Yesterday’s story doesn’t have to be today’s story.”

Ms. Tibaldo, who has been working with the play since 2013 said, “The Baklawa Recipe is a Montreal story, an immigrant story, and an important play to produce in our current social climate. In bearing witness to the lives of two women who emigrated to Canada, we realize that we are all shaped by similar familial experiences. We come to understand that what we share far outweighs our differences. In hearing their story we reflect our own into theirs and let our heart beat to their beat. We are all one.”

4 actors on stage
The Baklawa Recipe – © Antoine Saito

“Centaur is very proud to present this intimate and poetic perspective on contemporary Canadian women’s lives”, said Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes. “The Baklawa Recipe is an insightful, multi-layered theatrical story that illuminates the challenges all marginalized people face and reveals how even in a modern world, old traditions as simple as baking together can provide solace and strength. The play leads us to that state of grace which allows us to see the world through another’s eyes.”

Eleanor Noble, seen in last season’s Clybourne Park and a first generation Canadian, plays Naïma, the daughter of one of the Lebanese women. Anne-Marie Saheb, a busy French and English TV, film and stage actor, makes her Centaur debut as Fanny, daughter to the other mother. Sisters Christina and Natalie Tannous also make their Centaur mainstage debuts as the two immigrant friends, Nadia and Rita. Don’t miss the play!

Centaur Theatre

453 St François Xavier, Montreal

Source: Centaur Theatre

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