Rahul Varma

Rahul Varma2

Contact Info



Kensington Literary Representation
Agent – Michael Petrasek
34 St. Andrew Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1K6
(416) 979-0187

Playwright accepts commissions.


Rahul Varma is a playwright, artistic director, essayist and an activist who migrated to Canada from his birth country India in 1976. In 1981, he co-founded Teesri Duniya Theatre, which is dedicated to producing socially and politically relevant theatre examining issues of cultural representation and diversity in Canada. Rahul became the company’s artistic director in 1986. In 1998, with Kapil Bawa, he co-founded the theatre quarterly alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage, which is now headed by Editor-in-chief Dr. Edward (Ted) Little. Rahul is a member of the editorial board. His articles have appeared in alt.theatre, Canadian Theatre Review, South Asian Popular Culture, anthologies, and various other collections.

He writes both in Hindi and English, which is the language of his adulthood.  Rahul’s early Hindi plays Bhanumati Ka Pitara and Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani were written and performed entirely for the Canadian South Asian immigrant community.  He made his first forays into English language with a series of one-act plays that included Job Stealer, Isolated Incident and Equal Wages. With Land Where the Trees Talk, in 1989, he turned his attention to the creation of full-length plays. His other full-length plays include No Man’s Land, Trading Injuries (radio drama), Counter Offence, Bhopal and Truth and Treason. Counter Offence has been translated into French as Lâ Affaire Farhadi and in Italian as Il Caso Farhadi. Bhopal has been translated into French with the same title and in Hindi as Zahreeli Hawa by India’s pre-eminent artist Dr. Habib Tanvir.  Currently he is working on a new play called Unusual Battleground scheduled to premiere in 2012. This play is about genocide and atrocity crimes relating to Rwanda and Armenia.


Full Length Plays

Truth and Treason
Set in present time in Iraq and the US.

Telling the story of an American soldier of conscience, an Iraqi mother, her jailed husband and their 11 year old daughter killed by an American bullet – we are led to question not only what comprises “war” and “terror”, but how, where and by whom the real “war on terror”  is fought…
It is fictional not a documentary play.

Set in present time in India and the US.

Based on the world’s worst industrial disaster that happened at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Indian city Bhopal, the play is a fictional account drawing attention to human attitudes that result 20,000 dead and counting. The characters are American CEO, Canadian social worker, Indo-American boss, and a range of Indians giving us a peek into the hidden side of globalization.

Zahreeli Hawa
(Hindi translation of Bhopal by iconic Lt, Habib Tanvir.

Counter Offence
Set in present time in Canada

Shapoor, a deported wife-beater returns back to Canada to apologize to his wife and clear his name, only to be found dead in his hotel room. While trying to solve who killed Shapoor, Counter Offence explores an explosive situation â  struggle to end violence against women vs. struggle to end racism.

Lâ Affaire Farhadi
French translation of Counter Offence by Pierre Legris.

Il Caso Farhadi
Italian translation of Counter Offence by Guilio Marra

No Man’s Land
Set in present time against the backdrop of Quebec separatism from Canada.

Quaiser, Jenna, and their daughter Samreenâ flee communal violence in India and arrive in Montreal in 1970, with a charred brick as a reminder of their â home back homeâ . Home in the new country is identity to Quaiser. Determined not to let the misfortunes of other impede his desire to own a homeâ Quaiser buys his house below market price from an Anglophone owner who is forced out of Montreal, but finds himself in difficulty again when separatist movement shuts down his factory and the restaurant. Worse, Quaiser fails to see that his obsession to own a house had destroyed Jeenaâ s body and mind. No Manâ s Land is a play that considers the predicament of Muslim refugees from India who are uprooted for a second time by separatist struggle in their new home

Trading Injuries
Trading Injuries is radio version of No Man’s Land with emphasis on abusiveness of the workplace for immigrant women trapped in sweatshops. It was aired on CBC radio drama series.

Land Where the Tress Talk

Huge chunk of native land has been appropriated by the government for hydro-electric development. Cutting the mountain and reversing the flow of the river has caused mercury poisoning and native children are dying. Natives of the area, headed by their chief, blockade the road to prevent environmental degradation and prevent further deaths from mercury poisoning. Land Where the Trees Talk is a play about native rights in face of institutionalized dispossessions.

One Acts & Short Plays

Isolated Incident, co-authored with Steve Orlov

This one act play was written to mark the first anniversary of shooting death of Anthony Griffin, an unarmed black teenager, at the hands of a Montreal policeman.  The play is fast paced and uses elements of Indian street theatre.

Job Stealer , co-authored with Ian-Lloyd George and Helen Vlachos

Men and women from an ‘unnamed country caught in political violence’, arrive by boat in Canada. While accepted temporarily as refugees, they become caught in vicious cycle: no immigration without a job, and no job without Canadian experience. Meanwhile the employers make them do jobs other Canadians refuse to do. Yet, in the eyes of some Canadians call them job-stealers taking jobs away from native born Canadians. A doctor from the old country, now working on the assembly line of a sweat factory sums it up, “if it was possible to steal one, I would have stolen a better one.”

Job Stealer was inspired by 1987 incident when about 20 Tamils from Sri Lanka landed on the shore of Newfoundland and asked for political asylum.  It is a fast paced play that picks up crucial aspects of challenges, hopes, and conciliation of immigrant work-force.


  • Special Juror’s Award from the Quebec Drama Federation
  • Award from Montreal English Critic’s Circle for promoting interculturalists
  • Recipient of Banff Center for the Arts Playwrights Fellowship
  • Recipient of Shastri:Indo-Canadian Arts Fellowship to work with iconic Lt. Habib Tanvir

Browse Rahul Varma’s plays