In 1982 Soheil Parsa arrived in Canada, having just fled the Islamic revolution, in his native Iran where he trained as a theatre director. He continued to pursue that training at Toronto’s York University, where he studied the intersection of Western modernist theatre with ancient and contemporary Persian performance. In 1989 he co-founded Modern Times Stage Company (with Peter Farbridge) where, for more than three decades, he remained the artistic director, directing and producing award winning productions. It is also through his artistic direction of Modern Times where Soheil has consistently invested his time and energy in making space for the mentoring of numerous emerging Canadian theatre artists.
Soheil has been twice shortlisted for the prestigious Siminovitch Prize for directing, has won countless Toronto Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Chalmers Fellowship, and many other national and international distinctions for his outstanding direction and deeply intercultural productions with collaborators in countries such as Bosnia, Cuba, Colombia, Iran, among others.
Professor Emeritus and theatre scholar Ric Knowles, former editor of Theatre Journal, Modern Drama and Canadian Theatre Review, as well as long-time collaborator of Soheil’s, has described Soheil’s theatre practice and aesthetic as “profoundly intercultural in ways that transcend instrumentalist gestures to official multiculturalism as a way of currying favour or funds . . . . directly address[ing] difficult contemporary negotiations across cultures . . . . Every Soheil Parsa rehearsal room is a mini-United Nations, a gathering of extraordinary (often newly arrived or emerging) artists from a wide range of cultures within Canada, who bring with them different aesthetics, epistemologies, and performance disciplines.”