Having performed in Vancouver, Los Angeles, during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, New York and Toronto with her first one-woman play, Anand (bliss, peace, happiness) which she wrote, directed and produced, currently, Yasmin is on tour with her second one-woman play, Umrao Yasmin; A New Beginning – inspired by the legendary Bollywood film, Umrao Jaan.
Two-time winner of the Harrogate Drama Festival, Yasmin Virani was born in Vancouver, Canada, but began her acting career in Yorkshire, England, where she garnered both a gold and bronze medal from the London Academy of Dramatic Art. An accomplished theatre actress at a young age, at nineteen, she directed and starred in Noel Coward’s, Private Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as David Mammet’s, Sexual Perversity in Chicago in Montreal. The following year, Yasmin went on to sell out Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, where she once again honed her craft as both actor and director in a satire of Samuel Beckett’s existential comedy, Faiting Wor Godot.
Talent, passion and perseverance led to more opportunity. In 2002, she was cast as, Gupta, in the CBC Indo-Canadian drama, Jinnah on Crime and worked with, Nicholas Campbell, in the successful television series, Da Vinci’s Inquest. In 2008, Yasmin made her literary debut with a collection of romantic poetry, Narcissism or Brilliance? and established Haute Couture Theatre Company – dedicated to providing avant-garde theatre within Canada and the United States.
This year, Yasmin launched her second company, TPARK ENTERTAINMENT, which aims to bridge the gap between eastern and western entertainment globally. “There’s a huge market for Bollywood stories not only amongst the South Asian diaspora, but a great story is universal and that’s really my vision for TPARK; to incorporate the best parts of both worlds in my work and partner with like minded individuals/ companies who share the same global vision.”
Come Fall In Love With Yasmin Virani
Yasmin Virani | May 4th, 2016 | http://www.yasminvirani.com
A STAR WAS BORN LAST NIGHT, SHINING BOTH EAST & WEST!
“Yasmin’s performance was outstanding…I can’t remember the last time I saw a show where Gandhi and Lady Gaga were mentioned in the same breath!! Yasmin is a writer, actor, director and producer (whew!) and she owned that stage last night. Her biographical play took us through her growing up, experiencing love (sort of), losing love then finding it again within herself. She talks about her family, her travels and career and there was not one word that didn’t ring true to my own experiences. We laughed, we nodded agreement and familiarity, and some of us struggled to hold back a tear or two.”
Fordham PR | May 24th, 2014| Read more of Glenda Fordham’s review at: http://fordhampr.ca/2014/05/24/a-star-was-born-last-night-shining-both-east-west
MyBindi Interviews Yasmin Virani
1. What is it about the legendary Bollywood film Umrao Jaan that inspired you to stage Umrao Yasmin; A New Beginning? I think Rekha Ji’s performance in Umrao Jaan was phenomenal! Watching her as a kid definitely had an impact on me and I do go into that in Umrao Yasmin, but Umrao Jaan is actually based on Umrao Jaan Ada – a novel written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. I wanted to pay homage to the original story, but at the same time, make it my own.
2. What are the biggest challenges of a one-woman show? How did you overcome them? Keeping an audience both engaged and entertained. A one – woman show is exactly that – there’s only one person on stage. It’s just me and a story and so, there’s incredible pressure on me to make sure that both the content and my delivery of it is entertaining. And, sometimes, the material works and sometimes, it’s doesn’t. The only way to know for sure is to get out there and perform the work. That’s what I do.
3. What is the core message of the play? That Bollywood films aren’t just about beautiful women dancing around in half naked costumes. That, art, in general, can be both powerful and transformative, because it has the ability to change people’s thoughts and ultimately, one’s perspective on things.
4. Who is the audience for Umrao Yasmin? (Young women, older women or both men and women?) Any adult who enjoys hearing a great story.
5. You were born in Vancouver but your acting career began in England. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your career path? I started Kathak dancing around nine, in Toronto, and then began training as an actor in my teens, in England. At university, in Montreal, I really honed my skills as a director and, writing, I’ve always done. No matter where I was or am in the world – it’s an outlet for me. In my late 20s though, I began to merge my talents and came full circle when I debuted my first one woman show, Anand (bliss, peace or happiness), in Vancouver. That’s when I actually started to see some success.
6. How did your training as a Kathak dancer influence the making/writing of Umrao Yasmin? I didn’t really train as a Kathak dancer. My parents couldn’t afford it. Instead, they volunteered me to dance at mosque during celebratory events and I think that informed my opinion on art being a conduit for spirituality. For me, art is prayer. Prayer is art.
7. Is Umrao Yasmin based on your personal experience or is it a work of fiction? Both. A lot of Umrao Yasmin is based on personal experience, but, ultimately, I see myself as an entertainer. It’s important to me that people go home feeling like they’ve watched a great show. So I spend a lot of time working on the material.
8. What else can we look forward to from you in the future? My third play which I’ve already written. It’s a beautiful love story. Initially, my plan was to turn my first play, Anand (bliss, peace, happiness), into a movie and if I had the resources to do it alone, I would. There’s a huge market for Bollywood/Hollywood stories not only amongst the South Asian population worldwide, but westerners love Bollywood too – if you have the right kind of story. Nobody wants to sit through three hours of just sheer melodrama (unless, of course, the movie stars Shah Rukh Khan, because, really, who cares about the story at that point?), but a great story is universal and that’s really my vision for TPARK; to incorporate the best parts of both worlds in my work and partner with like minded individuals/production companies who see the potential in my stories and have the talent/resources to go global.
MyBindi | May 14th, 2014 | http://www.mybindi.com
Yasmin Virani Brings India To Toronto During South Asian Month
In her new play, the actress opens up about her life – changing trip to India and will be celebrating the launch of her new company, TPARK ENTERTAINMENT, by serving appetizers and dinner before the show and dessert afterwards. The name is based on a predominantly South Asian neighbourhood in Toronto called Thorncliffe Park.
“If it wasn’t for Thorncliffe, I don’t think I would have been as ambitious as I was in my teens. I was able to fly because I knew I had a place to come back home to where people were like me – not this, but not entirely that either. My vision for TPARK is to create a platform where Hollywood and Bollywood meet – to tell great stories that are not only universal, but that reflect us. Children who are born and raised here, but have roots elsewhere and to do so with expertise and excellence,” says Virani.
Umrao Yasmin, A New Beginning, plays during South Asian month at Dancemakers Studio, in Toronto, on May 23rd at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $25.00 and includes appetizers, dinner and dessert.
Indo-Canadian Voice | May 13th, 2014 | http://www.voiceonline.com
Yasmin Virani Talks Love, India And Lady Gaga
Umrao Yasmin, A New Beginning, runs December 14th and 15th at Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr.). 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20. Click on the Box Office page above or call: (604) 351-9230 to buy tickets.
Indo-Canadian Voice | November 17, 2012 | http://www.voiceonline.com
Yasmin Virani Shines During Festival of Lights
“I deliberately chose Toronto as the last stop on the tour because I wanted to celebrate the success of, Anand, with my family in Toronto,” says Yasmin. By family she is referring to a group of friends who have supported the actress right from the beginning of her career. “There’s no celebration without them, especially during Diwali. It’s a festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. I think the reason why, Anand, has been so well received is because it’s not a play about love and loss. It’s a play about love and choice. I chose light when writing, Anand, and light offered me love in return.”
Anand (bliss, peace, happiness) debuted at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver on November 6th and Yasmin’s final performance will commence exactly one year later, November 6th, at the Second City Training Centre (70 Peter St.) in Toronto at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Yasmin’s website.
Canoe | http://www.canoe.ca
Yasmin Virani Brings Bollywood Success to Broadway
New York, NY – “I’m someone who has struggled for success and to have found it with such a simple story like, Anand, where there’s no intricate lighting scheme or dramatic costumes. No elaborate dance sequence or props. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is,” says Virani.
Manhattan Theatre Source
Saturday, May 22nd @ 2:00 PM
Tickets: $15.00 (all proceeds will be donated to the people of Haiti)
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