Aza: stories of grief in diaspora

A vulnerable exploration of migrant and diasporic grief through storytelling.

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Charaf is sitting at a wooden dining table. She is wearing a black long sleeve dress with a white headscarf as is typical in her tradition while mourning. Her hands are on the table around a small coffee cup. In the middle of the table, a golden brass tray with a traditional coffee pot. The chair on the side of the table facing her is tucked in, a coffee cup identical to the one in her hands is placed on the table in front of the empty, tucked in seat. In the background, a photograph of her deceased grandmother in a golden frame hanging on a white wall.

Image Credit: Thabani Tshuma and Charaf Tartoussi

  • Concept by: Charaf Tartoussi

  • Written and Performed by: Charaf Tartoussi, Farah Beaini, Thabani Tshuma and Parminder Kaur

  • Featuring: Meena Shamaly

Aza (Arabic colloq: wake) is a powerful, nuanced portrait of migrant loss. Spoken word theater meets mourning ritual, it takes us on the grieving journeys of four artists as they grapple with what it means to lose a loved one back home.

Meet Charaf, Parminder, Thabani and Farah. They all live in Naarm, all write poetry and all have had to grieve a family member from a homeland someplace else. Together, they embark on an honest voyage through a grief as ancestral as it is foreign. From longing and guilt, to curiosity and pride, they will venture into the breadth of emotion in their migrant and diasporic mourning.

Aza is where they come together to be witnessed in the diversity in their grief. It is where they come together to heal, and to be healed.

In 50 minutes of vulnerable and sincere storytelling, they will move through the motions of their loss and attempt to answer the question: how does grief change when it is experienced in the immigrant diaspora, and how does it stay the same?

This project received Cash to Create and Cash for Equity through the Fringe Fund, as part of Radical Access.

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