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A Little Chat with playwright Anusree Roy on “Little Pretty and The Exceptional”

Interview by Brittany Kay

We always leave a chat with Anusree Roy feeling inspired and motivated. It was once again a pleasure to have a little chat with her about her latest play LITTLE PRETTY AND THE EXCEPTIONAL, on now at Factory Theatre. We spoke about her inspiration for the piece, where the name comes from, and how her working relationship and friendship with the late dramaturge Iris Turcott played an instrumental part in her life as a writer.

BK: Tell me a little bit about your show?

Anusree Roy: Please come see it. Then you’ll know what it’s about : )

BK: What inspired you to write this piece? Where did this story come from?

AR: In 2011 when I was finishing up my play Brothel #9, I saw a vision in my minds eye, of a father holding his daughter who was wearing a white outfit. Instinctually I knew it was a play and I knew I had to write it. I started to investigate what it might be about and gradually a plot started to emerge. Slowly character voices came and before I knew it I was writing.

Shelly Antony, Shruti Kothari, Farah Merani, Sugith Varughese in LITTLE PRETTY AND THE EXCEPTIONAL

BK: Why the title Little Pretty and The Exceptional?

AR: The title was given by Iris (Turcott) actually. Since the play is about two sisters and a lot of it is inspired by my sister and my life and our dynamic, Iris suggested the name. My name, when translated to Bengali, means Anu = Little, Sree = Pretty and my sisters name Ananya = The Exceptional. So Iris wanted that to be the name as it was fitting.

Sugith Varughese and Shruti Kothari in LITTLE PRETTY AND THE EXCEPTIONAL – Joseph Michael Photography

BK: I know the late Iris Turcott played a critical part in the development for this piece. Can you talk about the process, what it was like to work with her, and how she played an instrumental part in your life as a writer? 

AR: It was phenomenal actually. Along with being my dramaturge, she was my best friend. We would do weekly sessions. I would go to her place every Wednesday with scenes and she would sit by her blue coffee table, with a red pen in hand, and edit my words. It was the most terrifying and exciting time! Slowly when a draft emerged we did workshops to test it out and then more rewrites.

BK: You wear so many different hats, from playwright to director, in so many of your shows. What has it been like wearing just one hat (playwright) for this production?

AR: It’s been great actually. I have just been able to focus on the writing. It’s been useful.

Shruti Kothari and Sugith Varughese in LITTLE PRETTY AND THE EXCEPTIONAL – Joseph Michael Photography

BK: Why Factory Theatre for this show?

AR: Because I love them. They treat me well – with respect and kindness and Nina is a brilliant AD along with being a beloved friend of mine. I am in awe of the work she is doing at Factory and how much she has changed the face of that theatre. There is passion in that company.

BK: What do you want audience’s walking away with?

AR: I want them to walk away with compassion and a greater awareness of the world around them. That will make me so happy.

Little Pretty and The Exceptional

Written by Anusree Roy
Directed by Brendan Healy

Simran is gifted, complex and, haunted. Jasmeet, her younger sister, is the typical hip Toronto teenager. Together with Dilpreet, their delightfully overprotective and traditional father, they are frantically trying to get ready for the opening of their new sari shop on Gerrard Street. To achieve their life-long dreams, the family must come together to find new strength and exorcise the demons of their past. Charming, tragic, and full of life, this is a deeply moving story about the taboo around mental health issues in the South-Asian community, and the power of familial ties in the face of adversity.

Factory Theatre Mainspace
125 Bathurst Street

On now until April 30th



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