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Wednesday, 08 June 2011 15:02

Play sheds light on immigrant’s struggles

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By John R. Statton  — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Fijian playwright takes audiences Under the Mango Tree with a semi-autobiographical tale about a father and daughter’s story of immigration.



“He announces to her one day that he is going to Canada to find a better life for them, so he leaves he behind with her grandparents,” said Veenesh Dubois, writer and actor.

“They write letters back and forth describing all the new stuff that he’s learning about Canada, and the things that we take for granted as Canadians, he finds them all new, hilarious, and life changing at the same time, and she is just smitten with the idea of coming to him.”

The idea is similar to Dubois’ childhood, although in real life she did have a mother and sister growing up.

Dubois was left behind in Ba, Fiji for about two years when they went to Canada.

“My father didn’t want to take everything away from the village, so he left me behind with my grandparents,” she said.

In the play the daughter, Timal, has only her father and grandparents.

“It was beautiful, and life was much simpler than it is for me today,” she said.

“There was a big sugar mill where all of the people that lived in our village worked, and our mornings consisted of picking up our buckets and heading down tot the mango orchard.”

The mango grove’s an important cultural fixture to Fijian life.

It was a natural choice for the title of her first self-written and produced play.

“The reason that I did use the title for the play was that a lot of life-changing events happened there,” she said.

“My father announced to us that he had gotten accepted to go to Canada, marriage proposals are made there, deaths occurred under there, suicide happened in the tree, children were born there, lessons were learned and things were taught under the mango tree — it was a beautiful life.”

She performs every character in the one-woman, one-act play that won pick of the 2009 Vancouver Fringe Festival.

“It’s about becoming each character, giving them respect, and knowing what they are going through, because each of them are at different journeys in their lives, and each of them want something different,” she said.

“It’s about giving them their own life, and their own voice.”

Dubois will perform Under the Mango Tree at the Chautauqua festival at 2 p.m. July 9 and 6 p.m. July 10. Tickets are $10 per show, or $50 for a festival pass.

“It’s nice to know that a play like this has shed some light on the struggles of an immigrant, and the sacrifices one makes to come to a new country — how scary it is to fit in whether is be language, culture, and new jobs.”

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