‘Real words spoken:’ Fringe Festival play tells the stories of immigrant women

July 4, 2017

By Samantha Craggs, CBC News |

A 12-year-old girl moves to Hamilton with her family, and it’s a terrifying place.

She’s new to Canada. She doesn’t know English. In her former country, she wore a uniform to school, and now she doesn’t know what to wear.

This is one of the stories of Hamilton’s immigrant women in the new play We Are Not the Others — one of 50 plays coming to the Hamilton Fringe Festival in July.

In We Are Not the Others, playwright Izad Etemadi teams up with Mirna Carranza, a McMaster University professor of social work who conducted dozens of interviews with immigrant women.

The play intersperses monologues with group scenes, telling emotional and memorable stories of their experiences in Canada.

“I tried really hard to stay true to the words of the participants,” said Etemadi, whose previous Fringe plays include Love with Leila and Borderland. The latter is about being gay in Iran.

“I had to edit a few things, just for the full arc, but most of the words are real words spoken.”

Etemadi and Carranza first met when he mediated a panel about Syrian refugees at the Immigrants Working Centre.

They sat next to each other at lunch and Carranza told him about some of the 100 interviews she’d conducted.

Etemadi took 30 of her interviews and condensed them. One of those stories was the 12-year-old girl.

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