MoR presented by Third Culture Kids, is an intimate and evocative production, written and performed by masterful storyteller, Dureshawar Khan.
Dureshawar is a descriptive narrator who has the brilliant ability of harnessing the right words to build vibrant images of her stories in the minds of her audience, while speaking in both her mother tongue of Pashto and English.
The audience is welcomed into the intimate performance space by the delightful smell of incense and spices, which a fellow audience member described as “an element of surprise.” Set designer Kelly Fregon has further considered this appeasing of the senses, as the audience moves further into the room to view the set, which is decorated with the most beautiful trinkets and props. The smell and sight combine to immediately establish a sense of home and a welcoming atmosphere.
MoR set design by Kelly Fregon. Lighting by Katrina Johnson. Photography by Tasha Faye
When Dureshawar enters the space, she does so in such a delicate yet striking manner it immediately draws attention in a hypnotising way. When she begins to speak, she establishes the importance of storytelling in her culture, a theme which is central to the performance.
The piece is broken into sections, containing short, formative stories from Dureshawar’s current life in Australia and her early life in north-west Pakistan, which she left at the age of 16. Many of the stories centre around the important role her scientist mother has played in her life and are told with great affection. Her mother’s teachings and sacrifices are the ultimate demonstration of the love parents have for their children.
Dureshawar Khan in MoR. Directed by Susie Conte. Photography by Tasha Faye
Dureshawar questions whether or not our culture is something that is built into our DNA, thus explaining the indescribable connection and familiarity one can experience when hearing or seeing something connected to their culture, even if they’ve never seen or heard it before.
The audience is also educated on some of her culture’s practices and traditions, through stories and even demonstrations; such as the art and science behind the perfect cup of tea which is expertly created and brewed right in front of the audience with flair and humour. (No tea bags allowed!)
Dureshawar Khan in MoR. Photography by Tasha Faye
In-between these stories, Dureshawar pauses to allow parts of a fairy tale to be told through a gentle voiceover and simple yet effective illustrated projection. As someone who is regularly disappointed by the use of AV in performances, I can confidently say this projection does not disappoint. Although it’s used to tell the fairy tale, Dureshawar also interacts with it in a way which engulfs her, creating an incredible visceral experience for the audience.
Projection in MoR. Photography by Tasha Faye
For the majority of the show, Dureshawar single-handedly holds the audience in a warm embrace, with the exception of a few considered moments where she places viewers face to face with her experience of being a migrant in Australia. An experience, in which, her identity has been systematically erased, but she is now proudly reclaiming.
You can feel the love and energy which has gone into this production from Dureshawar and MoR’s creative team.
There are so many incredible elements to this production, too many to speak about here, but each combine to create a memorable and moving piece of theatre. Dureshawar mentions in the show how she never takes the time to sit in her victories, I hope she can sit in this one.