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PSYCHO 6 Gets World Premiere at Teesri Duniya Theatre in June

Performances run  June 10-23.

PSYCHO 6 Gets World Premiere at Teesri Duniya Theatre in June

Partially based on playwright/performer Oliver Koomsatira's lived personal experience, Psycho 6 tells the life-affecting story of millions of youth across cultures and social classes. This powerful, non-linear piece weaves together theatre, physical movement, mask work, dance and rap, over a layered, integral soundtrack. Teesri Duniya Theatre is proud to present this important world premiere, playing at MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) from June 10-23. Continuing their mandate to encourage dialogue, the theatre will hold post-show talkbacks. Mature content warning-ages 15+.

In this nuanced, tour-de-force performance, spectators must consider-lion or gazelle; how does hunter become prey? The harrowing story follows the journey of K, a young man who's been in and out of foster care and youth centres since the age of 9. His broken home, fiery temper and financial destitution have led him down a path of increasingly dangerous criminal activities and impacted his mental/emotional health. The play tackles youth gangs and pimping, subjects not often seen in the theatre. It takes a deep look into how specific socio-economic factors create a context where marginalised people of colour are vulnerable to delinquency, out of sheer necessity.

The story of K has resonated with Koomsatira for a long time, "Growing up, I saw many friends get into a lot of trouble. Some were able to get out of the criminal underworld's claws. Others weren't. I wanted to grasp a deeper understanding of how good kids were being groomed to become criminals and what made them more susceptible to getting intertwined with these people. Some came back with scars, stitches, criminal records, sentences, drug addictions and firearms charges. And some just never came back," he said.

How does a music-loving teenager transform into a budding bandit and onto a fully fledged criminal? Psycho 6 is a reflection of the current climate, incorporating some harsh facts. According to Statistics Canada, gun violence has increased 81% in Canada between 2009 and 2019. In 2020, there were 8,344 victims of violent crimes which involved guns. Montreal isn't spared from this trend, with 187 gun violence events happening in 2021, a 30% increase from 2020. Many of these episodes are related to criminal organizations, some of which involve youth gangs. In Montreal, 607 illegal guns were seized in 2021. A number of these unfortunate, deadly shootings involve teenagers and innocent victims who are unrelated to a criminal organization. The play asks why? What circumstances impel teens and young adults to participate in theft, physical assault, break and enters, drive-bys, robberies, kidnapping, pimping, fraud and sex trafficking... Koomsatira's goal isn't to terrorize the audience, only to foster an understanding of what's going on in local neighbourhoods without jumping to conclusions.

Teesri Duniya Theatre Artistic Director Rahul Varma is eager to see Psycho 6 brought to life after being developed in the company's Fireworks Playwrights' Program, which focuses on nurturing relevant, meaningful works. "Koomsatira's play, about troubled, dark times and seeking escape, is a compelling story of hope. He doesn't only talk about the main character trying to pull himself up and out, but reaches out to help others heading down the same path. To support our youth is to understand them; Psycho 6 is a play about understanding our youth," said Varma.

There was a collaborative process with all creatives right from the early stages, under the sharp and insightful direction of Liz Valdez. Bringing people into K's gritty world are designers Zoe Roux, set and lighting; Nalo Soyini Bruce, costumes; and Christine ML Lee, sound. Alessandra Tom is the assistant director and the stage manager is Elyse Quesnel.

Founded in 1981, Teesri Duniya Theatre reflects Canada's multicultural, multiracial and Indigenous reality, promoting critical thinking, community connections, and intercultural dialogue. Two more shows round out the current season: Meet Me (in collaboration with the Live Action Theatre Project) co-written by Rosaruby Kagan and Julia Ainsworth (October), and the twice-postponed Counter Offence by Rahul Varma, directed by Arianna Bardesono (Mar.15-Apr. 3, Segal Center). The Fireworks Playwrights' Program continues this season with a new cohort of BIPOC playwrights, along with various community programming events.

Performances run June 10-23. For tickets:

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