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Langara Studio 58 Alumni star in local play

Nathan Kay and Brandon Bragg enact stories of growing hate crimes against Muslim community

Studio 58 alumni Nathan Kay (left) and Brandon Bagg (right) star in Jabber, a Neworld/Green Thumb Theatre co-production on Saturday, Nov. 25. Photo by Trevor Nault
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Reported by Trevor Nault

Two Studio 58 alumni are starring in a play that tackles a grim trend in growing hate crimes against Muslims in Canada.

Nathan Kay and Brandon Bagg are acting in a co-production between Neworld Theatre and Green Thumb Theatre. The play tells the story of Fatima, a young hijab wearing woman who transfers schools after she’s the target of a hate crime. Statistics Canada shows reported hate crimes against Muslims have more than doubled over a four-year period.

Targeting the appropriate crowd

Kay and Bagg have been touring with the production for the last few weeks, performing mostly at middle and high schools.

Kay plays Jorah, an outcast with anger issues and Fatima’s romantic interest. He said he’s glad they’re doing the show in high schools because it encourages young people to have a conversation with someone they don’t understand or someone who looks different than them.

“I think it does a really beautiful job of humanizing something that the media has worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to dehumanize,” Kay said.

Bagg plays Mr. Evans, a high school guidance counsellor who tries to help Fatima adjust to her new school.

“She’s a teenage girl who’s had death threats,” Bagg said. “And the sad truth of this is, this is not something that’s hard to fabricate. This is something that’s happened.”

Matching sensitivity with humour

Chelsea Haberlin, the director, said knew she had a serious subject on her hands but she knew how to handle it, thanks to Marcus Youssef’s script.

“It’s also really funny,” Haberlin said. “[Audiences] are kind of surprised the play is as entertaining as it is.”

Jabber will be performed at Progress Lab 1422 at 8 p.m. Nov. 25 and admission is by donation. All proceeds go to the Immigrant Services Society of BC.

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