Meet the Author: Jivesh Parasram
Meet the author behind the witty Take d Milk, Nah?—Jivesh Parasram!
Describe yourself in one sentence.
Occasionally erudite dusty-foot kinda thinker with a sense of humour.
Tell us a little bit about your new book.
It’s the story of how I once birthed a cow… kinda. Take d Milk, Nah? is an identity play made to destroy identity plays. But also, it’s still an identity play. It’s a composite of a few different stories I’d been performing with a deep dive into some Puranic philosophy and a healthy dose of critical race theory. And if that doesn’t sound fun—it’s really a vehicle to share some history about the Indian Indentureship in the Caribbean and find a way to laugh together despite the quite real societal reasons that make that difficult to do.
What’s something unique about you or something you like to do?
I’ve had severe depression since I was about fourteen and am sometimes considered a “MAD” artist. Which I rather like from the point of pride in one’s own “madness.” And while if you don’t have mental illness yourself that might sound like a downer—it’s very much shaped the way I see the world, and I like it. Also, I cook pretty well.
What is something that you enjoy doing, and why?
I spend a lot of time walking. Not super purposefully or even with exercise as the priority. I don’t know that I’d consider myself as free as a flaneur per se, but I’m an avid ambler. I mainly am so into it because it’s just time to think. And I’m very fortunate that I live in a beautiful neighbourhood in East Vancouver—I’m never tired of the mountains.
What are some of your favourite plays?
There are a lot. There’s a piece called SMYCZ by Bartosz Porczyk that was really impactful in terms of what solo performance could look like. I’ve really loved Nassim Soleimanpour’s work, BLANK in particular. I have a deep love for The Adventures of Ali & Ali and the aXes of Evil by Marcus Youssef, Camyar Chai, and Guillermo Verdecchia. I also love this piece He Who Gets Slapped by Leonid Andreyev. The Lower Depths by Gorky is right up there too. I’ve probably read most of Beckett a few times, and I love Krapp’s Last Tape. I’m pretty into Greek classics particularly with unique translations. Soyinka’s Bacchae in particular. I even truly like a few Shakespeare’s (Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Cymbeline). I also like a lot of more performance art-based stuff, Nao Bustamante, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Coco Fusco—all the essential standards. A lot that I think hasn’t been published (yet?) Flashing Lights by Bad New Days is just awesome. And anything Reggie Watts does is gold. Back to more scripty-scripts though… free as injuns by Tara Beagan remains one of the most hard hitting plays I’ve ever witnessed. The only thing that rivaled it in that respect was Hir by Taylor Mac. But the East Van Panto is probably my favourite thing. I do love Sarah Kane and Martin Crimp and the whole in-yer-face movement, but not sure if I could say I “like” it. Mad Forest—Caryl Churchill—there’s a great scene between a dog and a vampire. A lot of Brecht. John Mighton’s work, particularly Body & Soul. David Yee’s acquiesce is a favourite for sure and it’s underplayed. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard’s work I could read all day. I love Christine Quintana’s work too. Both Donna and Christine have an ability to crush your spirit and build it back up again, and I guess I like that. I don’t know… I like a lot of stuff, I suppose. I’m pretty bad at having favourites.
What are you reading these days?
Not as much as I want to be. But I recently read Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson, and I quite liked the framework she was presenting. I strangely got really into Laughter by Henri Bergson. I’ve been reading some of Billy-Ray Belcourt’s poetry (NDN coping mechanisms) and I’m really into that.
What’s something that makes you laugh?
Learn more about Jivesh Parasram:
Jivesh Parasram is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist of Indo Caribbean descent (Cairi/Trinidad & Tobago). Jivesh grew up in Mi’Kma’Ki (Nova Scotia) before moving to Tkoronto (Toronto). In 2009 he co-founded Pandemic Theatre, through which much of his work has been created, often in close collaboration with co-founder Tom Arthur Davis. He is a recipient of two Harold Awards for his service to the independent theatre community in Tkoronto, including the Ken McDougall Award. Jivesh won the 2018 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and was a member of the second cohort of the Cultural Leaders Lab with the Toronto Arts Council and the Banff Centre. In 2018, Jivesh took on the position of artistic director for Rumble Theatre. He lives primarily in the unceded Coast Salish territories (Vancouver, BC).