State of Denial at the Segal

The need to remember defies the struggle to forget

Commemorating the centenary of the 1915 Armenian genocide


State of Denial

Written by Rahul Varma, Directed by Liz Valdez

Thursday, October 8 – Sunday, October 25, 2015


Sahana: “I feel the hurt, not the hatred. Hatred is like acid, it burns through the container it lives in.


As we currently witness in the forefront of worldwide daily news, there’s no hiding from countries’ hideous reaction to ‘other’. Teesri Duniya Theatre, in collaboration with the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Canada (AGCCC), is honoured to present Rahul Varma’s State of Denial from October 8-25 at Segal Centre Studio. This moving and unsettling play, directed by Liz Valdez, highlights the urgent need to counter denials of gendered violence, ethnic cleansing and racial rivalry. Continuing their mandate to encourage dialogue, the company will hold a talkback with invited guests after each matinee performance.


Set in contemporary Canada and Turkey of 1915, State of Denial links the Turkish-denied Armenian genocide of 1915 with the 1995 genocide in Rwanda, connecting them through the Canadian diaspora experience. When Odette, a Rwandan-born Canadian filmmaker, travels to Turkey to investigate stories of genocide and hidden identity, she interviews Sahana, an elderly and respected Muslim woman who has devoted her life to assisting Armenian survivors. On her deathbed, Sahana confesses a chilling secret that challenges a long-standing state of denial that Odette promises to make public at any personal cost.


Making up the talented, multi-ethnic cast is Susan Bain, Victoria Barkoff, Liana Bdéwi, Jimmy Blais, Michaela Di Cesare, Eric Hausknost, Saro Saroyan and Warona Setshwaelo.


Adolf Hitler to his army commanders, August 22, 1939: “I have sent my death-head units with the orders to kill without compassion or mercy all men, women and children of Polish race or language. Who still talks nowadays about the annihilation of the Armenians?


The fictional State of Denial is derived from multiple true stories from the research project, Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and other Human Rights Violations housed at Concordia University. Playwright Rahul Varma affirms, “The stories of elsewhere are Canadian stories affecting all citizens. They go beyond biography and facts, revealing truth while instigating further inquiry. My aim is to address global issues locally.” An earlier workshop production of the piece was performed in 2012.


For director Liz Valdez, the question we need to ask isn’t who is to blame, but what should our dialogue be, and when can women have more say in that dialogue? The relationship between the women is the most important one in the storytelling. Their perspectives and experiences don’t come from their own choices but from ones that men made for them in times of war, dispute and horror. The story lies in uncovering the layers of what women do to keep going, keep surviving, keep loving and healing; how to live with the truth we need and the truth that actually is.”


State of Denial

Teesri Duniya Theatre

at Segal Centre Studio- October 8-25, 2015

5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd. Check calendar for dates and times, NB: There are no shows on Friday

Tickets $18-$26 (various discounts: students/seniors/groups/Segal Subscribers)

Thanksgiving Special: tickets for Sun. Oct. 11 & Mon. Oct. 12 are 2-for-1 if purchased by Oct. 8 with the code word ‘Thanksgiving’

Box Office: 514 739-7944 or online

There will be a talkback with invited guests after each matinee performance.

About the play, performance calendar and cast information: