Theatre artist Diana Tso is a presenter at this year’s CODE Conference and playwright of Comfort, an important new production coming to Toronto this November. As a theatre artist, the stage is Diana’s platform to speak out creatively and publicly in advocating art for change, women’s human rights, healing and reconciliation within our global community.
In 2009 Diana Tso had the opportunity to meet survivors of World War Two in China and Korea to hear their testimonies through ALPHA Education’s Peace and Reconciliation program. It deeply enriched the writing of her play Red Snow, a love story inspired by survivors of the Rape of Nanking. Its successful 2012 production in Toronto was followed by its international premiere in Shanghai, China. In 2013 she received a writing grant to create a new play about love and war, Comfort. The voices of Asia’s WWII survivors continued to speak to her heart in writing this play, inspired by the comfort women and their stories of resilience in war.
The upcoming theatre production of Diana’s new play Comfort is a declaration of love as well as a story about resilience, inspired by the comfort women forced into sexual slavery in WWII. During WWII Japan’s military sexually enslaved over 200,000 women and girls across Asia. Their stories continue to be silenced as are the voices of many women in war, in our present day and in our own city.
Comfort merges eastern and western storytelling traditions through text, movement and live music, bringing diverse cultures together to speak our stories. Witnessing the play is already an expression of activism in support of the silenced voices of women. Post-show dialogue between audiences and artists will further support the advocacy for human rights and healing.
This ongoing struggle has brought survivors together in solidarity to fight for their rights. Since 1991, survivors, educators, artists, social activists, and the UN have been advocating for the acknowledgement of ‘comfort women’ issues and have demanded the Japanese government to take legal responsibility. The Japanese government continues to deny the coercion of women into military sexual slavery during WWII, despite the overwhelming testimonies of survivors and witnesses.
Comfort will engage audiences in a dialogue and open up ways of being active advocates in stopping violence against women, honoring their stories and helping us heal as a global community through the arts. In addition to the show’s run at the Aki Studio at the Native Earth Performing Arts Centre, there will be post-show Q & A sessions, workshops for students with professional artists in theatre, creative writing, movement, dance and music and a teachers’ study guide.
Register for Diana’s workshop ‘Storytelling with our Voices and Bodies in Celebration of our Planet’ at this year’s CODE Conference www.codeconferences.ca
$15 per student to see the performance and post-show talk.
$30 per student to see a performance, post-show talk AND art workshop relating to the themes in COMFORT, led by artists in education (including drama, writing, dance, music)
COMFORT performances are from November 26 to December 10
School shows are weekdays at 11am
(Mondays and Wednesdays Nov 28, 30, Dec 5, 7)
THEATRE: Aki Studio Theatre at 585 Dundas St East (Native Earth Performing Arts)