Historically situated in the midst of a flourishing empire and geographically in front of an internationally recognizable architectural marvel, Guards at the Taj explores an exceptionally cruel act in (perhaps fabricated) history through what can only be described as an odd "bromance." Dark, haunting, and hilarious, this production directed by Paneet Singh juxtaposes authentic and nuanced historical and cultural specificity against modern and anachronistic dialogue.
“Guards at the Taj is a comedy. You heard me. And it works. It’s poetic. That works too. And it’s thematically substantial.”
“Andy Kalirai captures Babur’s sweet dreaminess as well as some very recognizable laddiness ...Adele Noronha also shines as the more uptight Humayan...her casting by director Paneet Singh emphasizes the performance of masculinity, which is already one of the playwright Rajiv Joseph’s concerns.” - Colin Thomas, Fresh Sheet
Cast & Production
Director & Costume Designer
A Vancouver Guldasta was born almost a decade ago – I inherited a VHS tape from a friend, which had recordings of numerous local Vancouver newscasts from the days following the Indian Government’s armed invasion of the Golden Temple in 1984. The attack, codenamed “Operation Bluestar,” deeply shook Sikhs around the world, as well as much of the Indian diaspora.
Two things really struck me about these tapes: the raw and extreme emotions of the community in Vancouver, as well as the lack of nuance in the coverage by the broadcasters. Quickly, people were pitted against one another as a result of being forced to identify with generalized labels. Individuals and groups vilified one another. As the insurgency in Punjab continued over the next decade, sides became even further polarized.
We are in a time when the political sphere feels more personal than it has ever been, allegations of “politicizing trauma” are commonplace. This play examines the relationship between politics and the personal process of trauma. To what extent is “politicizing trauma” a means to find answers?
Personal experience is at the heart of much of my work, so I invite you into the experience of this production. Experience the tension, the rage, the love, the family, the process. Experience an 80’s Punjabi home. Experience the community. Experience a Vancouver Special, the Punjabi Market, and Ross Street Gurdwara – three characters the story couldn’t be told without. Experience the perspectives and baggage of each character.
Experience, reflect, empathize.