Dawn Jani Birley Debuts New Work QALB A Journey Of The Ego, This September

This new piece features the poetry and philosophy of the 13th century poet, Rumi.

By: Jun. 24, 2024
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Culturally and linguistically Deaf theatre artist, Dawn Jani Birley, is set to hit the stage at the Tarragon Extraspace this September in a new work entitled Qalb, A Journey of the Ego. Created with artists from Sweden, Finland, and the USA, this new piece features the poetry and philosophy of the 13th century poet, Rumi.

Birley first made a splash in Toronto back in 2017, playing Horatio in Why Not Theatre's award-winning Prince Hamlet, adapted and directed by Ravi Jain. The work was a cross-cultural, gender-bent retelling of Hamlet, presented in both ASL and spoken English. It premiered at The Theatre Centre's Franco Boni Theatre and went on to tour to venues across the USA and Canada, including Stanford Live in Palo Alto CA, and the National Arts Centre, Ottawa.

Birley returned to the stage in 2023 under the banner of her own, brand-new Deaf-led company, 1s1 Theatre. She presented a devised adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, entitled Lady M (Margaret), as part of the 2023 SummerWorks Performance Festival. Of that work, John Gilks (operaramblings) wrote: "Lady M (Margaret)...is storytelling through movement rather than words...with stunning performances. It's compelling theatre of a kind that isn't much seen on Canadian stages.”

Qalb, a word borrowed from Arabic, means heart in Rumi's native Persian language. Diving into his world of thoughts and poetry, 1s1 Theatre's latest production is about heart and resilience. Inspired by Birley's life-long experience of audism, her struggle for equity is relatable to anyone dealing with oppression. She turns to the philosophy of Rumi to transform her isolation, anger, and frustration into a force of love in the world. 

1s1 Theatre continues to forge a new Deaf-led theatre movement in Canada, creating a dynamic communication space for everyone by bringing ASL (along with spoken English) to the stage in celebration of this kinetic, vivid language. With its latest work, 1s1 is offering Deaf audiences access to Rumi's poetry in their native language, ASL. “Our productions present both Deaf and hearing audiences new ways of seeing and understanding the world”, said Birley. “Together, through the wisdom of this beloved poet, we work to become reflections of our true selves and create a world in which we all wish to live.”

Qalb – A Journey of the Ego runs from September 7-14, 2024 at the Tarragon Extraspace. Tickets may be purchased online from tarragontheatre.com or by calling 416-531-1827.

Qalb – A Journey of the Ego is a 1s1 Production, co-presented by Why Not Theatre, and supported by Toronto Metropolitan University's Chrysalis Project and the Canadian Cultural Society for the Deaf. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, Lindy Green Family Foundation, and TD Ready Commitment.


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