Kitchener’s unique MT Space theatre has earned a reputation, in Canada and abroad, for trying to change the face of Canadian theatre, and for helping actors bring to the stage distinct voices. Their own.
Director Majdi bou Matar founded MT Space ten years ago because as an Arabic guy with an accent he found it hard to get work in Canadian theatre. He devoted MT Space (the name originally comes from Multicultural Theatre Space) to creating its own kind of theatre: theatre that reflects on stage the 21st century face of Canadians. As Ghana-born Toronto actor Tawiah M’carthy says, “these stories are as real as it gets.”
The Body 13 story is erotic, exotic — a romantic comedy of love across gender, generation and cultures. M’carthy’s African character Ato, for example, falls for Tristan, a repressed hockey-hating Newfoundlander played by Trevor Copp, while Syrian-born Iman (Nada Humsi) slips into uncomfortable love with her much younger same-sex immigration officer Rae (Jessalyn Broadfoot).
The play is an ensemble creation that tells the story of a million new Canadians familiar with the shock and displacement of trying to become Canadian, says Majdi, who moved from Lebanon to Canada in 2003.
“I’m raising my kids in a new country that has very different moral and value systems and ways of looking at things,” he says. “Particularly at things that have always been major taboos in our culture — sex, race, same-sex love and relationships. All these have been forbidden topics for many new Canadians.”
Forbidden topics, perhaps, but they are thoroughly exposed in Body 13. In the interview clip below, Majdi talks about how getting past those cultural differences is what MT Space and Body 13 are all about.