By Mihika Agarwal
The eighth edition of the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts is set to shine a light on one of the largest visible minority groups in Vancouver: South Asians. From interactive theater to poetry readings and dance lessons, the multidisciplinary festival features 10 days of events and activations across the Lower Mainland. In celebration of South Asian culture, it will turn the spotlight on prominent as well as up-and-coming dancers, singers, comedians, playwrights, actors, writers, and journalists.
Founded in 2016 by Punjabi-Canadian broadcaster and hockey commentator Gurpreet Sian and arts curator Rohit Chokhani of the South Asian Arts Society, Monsoon was born out of the need to increase South Asian representation in Vancouver’s art community.
“We felt like we weren’t seeing enough South Asian-themed work on many of the main stages in Vancouver,” Sian says. “Providing a platform, essentially, for South Asian artists of all levels to work together, work on their craft, and get their productions and their ideas out into the public, and tell those stories that weren’t necessarily being told in other theatre spaces in and around the city.”
After a two-year run of online-only programming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is set to host both in-person and virtual activations this year. One of the most anticipated events is Punjabi Market Live, an outdoor block party at the first and largest Punjabi market in North America. There will be live performances by Punjabi singer-sensations Pav Dharia and Gurtej Singh, as well as drag queen Jolene Queen Sloan, plus delicious Indian fare like chai and jalebis.
Every day at the festival looks unique. On August 19, you can join renowned podcaster Tarannum Thind for a live episode recording as she interviews content creators Armeen Gill and Swarndeep Gill for her popular audio series Chai With T. And gear up for a high-energy Sunday (August 20) with choreographer Raja Singh, who will be giving lessons in the traditional Punjabi folk dance style of Bhangra. Other highlights include a hands-on dialog-writing workshop with emerging fiction writer Zahida Rahemtulla, and play readings by other South Asian diaspora writers. This festival is one you simply can’t miss.
When: August 17 to 31
Where: Multiple venues across Lower Mainland
Tickets: Buy or register here