Theatre Conspiracy’s production of the new play “Victim Impact” stars (from left) Nimet Kanji, Munish Sharma and Jenn Griffin. (submitted photo: Chris Randle)

‘Victim Impact’ play documents fraud trial of disgraced notary public Rashida Samji

Surrey’s Gavan Cheema helps bring theatre production to Vancouver stage starting Friday

With so many “moving pieces” in a story still unfolding, Surrey’s Gavan Cheema finds it exhilarating to work on a theatre project about the largest so-called “ponzi” scheme in B.C. history.

Victim Impact, written by former newspaper reporter Tim Carlson, is a ripped-from-the-headlines account of notary public Rashida Samji’s scheme to defraud close to 300 investors who believed their money was being funneled into a winery’s planned expansion.

For her role in the $110-million scam, Samji was sentenced in 2016 to six years in prison, and in late May lost her bid to have an appeal heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW)

Starting Friday (June 8), the “live” documentary theatre-style Victim Impact play is brought to Vancouver’s Cultch theatre by Theatre Conspiracy, a company founded in 1995 to provide “a platform for artists creating contemporary work for stage and media to investigate new directions in society, politics, and culture.”

The play is directed by Jiv Parasram, with Cheema in the roles of assistant director and community outreach.

Victim Impact follows the Samji case through the courts and “down the money trail,” according to a release. “This innovative piece of theatre looks at the fallout for those affected as they got sucked into the vortex of civil and criminal trials.”

• RELATED STORY: Fringe fest’s ‘Bombay Black’ builds on Project SAT goals, from 2017.

For Cheema, the play represents a first for her in the genre of documentary theatre.

“I had heard about the case before but didn’t know there was a play being written about it,” she told the Now-Leader, “and my sister actually worked on the case. She’s a lawyer, so I heard about it through the media and because she was working on it, but didn’t really know how large the case really was.”

The lawyer-sister, Manjot Cheema, helped the theatre company connect the dots with the case, Cheema said.

“She connected us with people we could chat with about it, but when it comes to details she can’t really share anything with us, other than the law and how it works, that kind of thing, which is really helpful, but there’s a lot of stuff she can’t share,” Cheema noted.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

Parasram recently won the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award.

“It is amazing to be doing a show that addresses an issue that has impacted so many people in the Lower Mainland, with a company that has such rich history in innovation and political theatre,” Parasram stated in a release.

With the staging of Victim Impact, Cheema’s job involves doing research and refining story details, and also supporting the director and actors – “just being that extra set of eyes, where needed, to make it all come to life.”

It’s been a fantastic few weeks of rehearsals for the play, she added.

“Everyone has been great and really open to change and ideas, because the case is still going on, right, so there are a lot of moving pieces with this, and that’s just the nature of it, a documentary theatre piece like this,” Cheema explained. “The story is still going on, so it makes it really exciting.… It’s powerful.”

Nimet Kanji leads the cast as Samji, and is joined by Jenn Griffin, Risha Nanda, Allan Morgan and Munish Sharma, all in multiple roles.

The play is written by Carlson, Theatre Conspiracy’s artistic director, in partnership with Playwrights Theatre Centre’s Kathleen Flaherty, visuals designer Milton Lim and sound designer David Mesiha.

Stated Carlson in a release: “From Samji’s claim that she was the ultimate victim, to the tangle of court trials and attempts to get money back to the victims, the show exposes the dramatic effects of a vicious scam. It destroyed the hopes and dreams of hundreds of people including Samji’s family members and friends. And they are not satisfied that justice is being done.”

The theatrical performance of Victim Impact involves a podcast series called Victim Impact: The Fraudcast, available at conspiracy.ca and other platforms.

At the Cultch, a post-show feedback session with the play’s creators will be held on Tuesday, June 12, and a community forum will follow the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 16. For tickets and show times, visit conspiracy.ca or call 604-251-1363.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

 

Gavan Cheema.

Theatre Conspiracy’s “Victim Impact” play stars (from left to right) Munish Sharma, Nimet Kanji, Allan Morgan, Risha Nanda and Jenn Griffin. (submitted photo: Chris Randle)

Just Posted

Court hears details of South Surrey girl’s final moments

Disturbing testimony in BC Supreme Court

CANNABIS: No pot shops opening in Surrey anytime soon

‘There’s simply too many questions that need to be answered to ensure we get this right,’ says Surrey’s public safety director

Delta council to send ‘golden handshake’ back for public consultation, review

Although the benefit is going for review, outgoing council members will still receive the money

Death and dying the focus of Surrey group’s two events

Surrey Hospice Society hosts ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ conference/fundraiser and its annual dove release

South Surrey-White Rock MP denies ad quote a civic endorsement

Mayoral candidate says Hogg was ‘speaking to my character’

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

2 charged for feeding B.C. bear Tim Horton’s timbits

Court documents show that Randy Scott and Megan Hiltz have both been charged with feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife.

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set for parole bid after 25 years in prison

Bernardo’s parole hearing at the Bath Institution is expected to attract numerous observers

Feds aiming to select preferred design for $60B warships by end of month

Defence insiders say the government wants to select a design by the end of the month from among three options submitted by several of the largest defence and shipbuilding companies in the world.

B.C. city wants control over its cannabis advertising rules

Without a say, towns and cities risk Washington-State-style flood of advertising, proponent says

Defence cautions against mob justice in Calgary child neglect trial

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark of Calgary have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to dominate North American marijuana industry

Cannabis producers claim the U.S. is “rapidly losing” its competitive advantage to Canada

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

Most Read