Anusree Roy is no stranger to the Toronto Theatre scene. Her plays include: Brothel # 9, Roshni, Letters to my Grandma and Pyaasa. Her latest piece Little Pretty and The Exceptional will be on stage at the Factory Theatre from April 6th to 30th.Little Pretty and The Exceptional is a family drama involving two sisters and their father preparing to open their new sari shop in Toronto’s Little India neighbourhood.
Simran is gifted, complex and, haunted. Jasmeet, her younger sister, is the typical hip Toronto teenager. Together with Dilpreet, their overprotective and traditional father, they are frantically trying to get ready for the opening of their new sari shop on Gerrard Street. To achieve their life-long dreams, the family must come together to find new strength and exorcise the demons of their past.
To learn more about Little Pretty and The Exceptional and Roy’s writing process, here is what she had to share.
HM: Little Pretty and The Exceptional is a family drama set in Toronto. Could you share how the story of these two sisters and father – preparing to open their new sari shop in Toronto’s Little India neighbourhood – came about?
Anusree Roy (AR): In 2012, when Dramaturge Iris Turcott and I were working on my play Brothel #9, I had a vision of a father holding his daughter – who was wearing a white outfit. I had no idea why I kept seeing this image. I shared it with Iris in one of our dramaturgy sessions and a new play was born.
HM: What is your process when first writing each of the characters in the play – do the characters’ personalities come first or do they evolve as you write?
AR: I catch the characters as they come. It is one of the central ways I write — I always let it happen organically. This kind of writing sometimes is risky, as you don’t really have a very clear picture of what the play will be about or what the characters are about until somewhere in the middle of the writing. But I am grateful that the characters always come and the plot evolves.
HM: The story in Little Pretty and The Exceptional sounds very relatable; all families must confront some “drama” at some point. How do you navigate telling South-Asian stories while at the same time making them accessible and relatable to the other audiences?
AR: Because, I truly believe at the heart of it we are all just people trying to find our purpose in life — trying to find meaning as to why we are here. You know? It doesn’t matter if the characters are South Asian or Caucasian or African, at the heart of the story if there is truth it will be relatable.
HM: After its premiere here in Toronto, what is the plan for Little Pretty and The Exceptional?
AR: I am not sure yet. I would love for the production or the play to be picked up — fingers crossed.
HM: I understand that you also write opera librettos. Any similar projects on the horizon at this time – what can we look forward to?
AR: No, nothing yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Little Pretty and The Exceptional premieres tonight at the Factory Theatre. The production runs until April 30th. For theatre details and box office information, please visit factorytheatre.ca.