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

VIDEO: Cloverdale hockey parents, players rally against mayor’s plan to postpone arena

The future Cloverdale arena is one of many projects set to be delayed in Surrey’s draft budget

‘Dream come true’ for flower-retrieving trio of figure skaters

Cloverdale, North Delta girls chosen for special task during Grand Prix event at UBC

Surrey man’s death prompts call for change

Hospital beds for patients with both medical and mental-health issues are ‘very limited’: coroner

Surrey needs more Mounties now, city councillor says

Linda Annis says public safety cannot be put on hold while city forms its own police force

Volunteers sought for White Rock Christmas Bird Count

Annual inventory of feathered friends set for Dec. 29

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Vancouver Whitecaps lose Kei Kamara, protect 11 players from expansion draft

The club added two goalies, a winger and a midfielder during Major League Soccer’s half-day trade window

Most Read