Majid Tafreshi was in rehearsal when he learned of the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in Tehran, killing 176 people.
The Iranian-Canadian actor and playwright has done what artists often do in times of conflict and sought to channel his grief into inspiration and healing.
On Saturday January 8, the second anniversary of the crash, Tafreshi and director / co-producer Sarah Marchand make their debut Love at 752, a scenic reading of the first play inspired by the tragic event.
“We always ask ourselves what is the function of storytelling? And I think for Majid and I, when this event happened two years ago, we both found healing through art and we hope that those who are still grieving today can find collective collective healing through this storytelling event, ”said Marchand.
At least seven of the victims lived on the North Shore, where two-thirds of all Iranian immigrants to British Columbia make their home.
Although it is based on real events, Tafreshi chose to use an abstract and surreal narrative. The main character, an aspiring musician played by Tafreshi, wakes up on the day of the accident to find a beautiful woman in her bed – the personification of death.
“He begins to question her to find the truth and its truth. It’s not really obvious and he’s struggling with this puzzle, which gets bigger and bigger over time, ”Tafreshi said. “What we are telling in this story is more about the love, the humanity and the truth of life, which everyone deserves to have.”
Although the subject is serious, Love at 752 is a dramatic comedy and Tafreshi has stated that he expects audiences to have fun.
The geopolitical ramifications of the crash cannot be avoided. The official explanation of the Iranian government was that the plane was accidentally shot down by members of the Revolutionary Guards who mistook it for a hostile attacking plane. The Canadian government does not accept this conclusion, nor do most Canadians of Iranian descent or the characters in Tafreshi and Marchand’s play.
“In the script, it’s not accidental. The victim character asks if it was an accident? And death says, ‘No’, ”he said.
To help in the quest for the truth, the couple are donating 20% of proceeds from Saturday’s performance to PS752 Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for victims’ rights.
And the show will be followed by a panel discussion for members of the public to decompress and share how the tragedy and the reading on stage touched them.
Tafreshi said he knew family members of some of the victims would be present, all of whom were supportive of the effort.
“It’s easy for people to forget about it and move on,” said Marchand. “But the people who are so directly linked to this event are still very much in mourning. We want to honor the fact that grief is an ongoing process. And we haven’t forgotten and hope to keep their memories alive throughout history. “
Currently, the show is selling tickets for an in-person presence as per public health guidelines, but they also plan to record the reading of the scene and make it viewable online after the fact. Later in 2021, they are planning a larger production on stage. Tickets are by donation, with a minimum of $ 15. Tickets are available at kaymeek.com.