Counter Offence – by Rahul Varma
Synopsis: Shazia, daughter of immigrant parents form India marries Shapoor, an Iranian on a student visa. She sponsors him for Canadian resident status. While the process drags on, their marriage takes an ugly turn. Shapoor hits Shazia and she calls in police. Sgt Galliard arrests Shapoor on charges of spousal abuse.
Mr. Moolchand Misra, an anti-racist activist comes to Shapoor’s defense, and accuses Sgt. Galliard of racial misconduct. On the other hand, Ms Clarinda Keith, a black social worker, fully committed to zero-tolerance on violence against women, comes to Galliard’s defense, even though she knows that police record against colored minorities is indefensible.
Moolchand manages to put Sgt. Galliard through an inquiry. This angers the police brotherhood, who regards the inquiry as an offence against entire police force.
Meanwhile Shazia ends her marriage with Shapoor, which results in his deportation. But Shapoor returns back only to be found shot dead in his hotel room. He was a wife beater and a deportee but now he is dead. While trying to solve who killed Shapoor, Counter Offence explores situation â struggle to end violence against women vs. struggle to end racism.
The play was produced in Montreal both in English and French and in Vancouver in English.
Time Period: Anytime
Cast Size: 8
Shazia Rizvi: A 26 year old Muslim woman
Shapoor Farhadi: Her Iranian husband.
Clarinda Keith: An activist black woman.
Guy Galliard: White police officer.
Gilles Prougault: President of the police brotherhood
Moolchand Misra: An Indo Canadian anti-racist activist.
Mohammed Murad Rizvi: Shazia’s father.
Shafiqa Rizvi: Shazia’s mother.
Design Needs: Impressionist set. The play has quick flashbacks and flash forwards.
This Play Is: published
Production History: The play premiered in 1996 and has been subsequently produced in English, French and Italian.
Awards Review Quotes:
“A play that makes a difference.”
Stanley Asher, Place Publique
“Call it ethnic theatre, call it a message-play, but also call it real and current and in your face. As it spun its tale of an oppressed immigrant man oppressing his wife, it also managed to make the life of a white male critic difficult- it held a mirror up to even the most devout liberal and said, “You still don’t get it”. You don’t see theatre with this kind of merit, in French or in English, very often in this city or any other. It’s gutsy theatre that crawls under your skin and blisters the psyche.”
Gaetan Charlebois, Montreal Mirror