Sheniz Janmohamed

Before the holidays, I was lucky enough to have brunch with Canadian actress, Pragna Desai. Known for her roles in the popular TV series ER, Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood Hollywood, and Richie Mehta’s System of Units, Desai is returning to her roots in theatre.

Freshly returned from LA, Desai is happy to be home. Living in LA has allowed her to appreciate Canada more, “Canadian people are light people; they have a sense of humour.” Although she’s glad to be back, she does miss the consistently pleasant weather of LA, and the little fashion boutiques. Desai has a unique style, wearing a breezy turquoise and lime green shirt, accented with a Japanese kimono belt. Her mother of pearl bangles are from her Mom, who bought them in Zimbabwe.

Desai can speak effortlessly about Shakespeare, identity politics and fashion, all in one sitting. She feels that people have preconceived notions about South Asians, and as a result, minority actors have to work harder to break stereotypes. However, she believes that ethnicity should not limit acting. Good acting is good acting, and it should be about how well the actor plays the character, not their ethnicity. With a diploma in Theatre Arts from George Brown Theatre School, rigorous Masterclasses at The Stratford Festival and a BFA in Music, Desai has been trained and taught by world class actors and professors.  

Pragna’s latest gig is at Tarragon Theatre, for the production ofCanada Steel. Written by J. Karol Korczynski, the play is an exploration of globalization, particularly its effects on communication. Pragna plays Bhopal, a lonely call centre worker in India, who develops an unconventional relationship with an ailing steel worker in Hamilton, Ontario.

The show opens on February 1st, 2008.

CANADA STEEL

Dates:   Special Preview:  January 31 (Tickets: $12.50). 
             Opens Friday, February 1 thru Sunday, February 17, 2008
Times: Tuesday – Saturday 8pm, 2:30pm Sunday Matinees
Ticket Prices: $25; Sunday matinees PWYC   
Venue: Tarragon Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave., Toronto (near Bathurst and Dupont)
Box Office Number: 416-531-1827 or Book On-Line at:  totix.ca

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