The Peppermints Theatre Collective and Roven Nazareth share their Holiday experiences in Toronto and India.
In this episode of The Dialog Podcast, I talked with the Peppermints Theatre Collective, George Brown College theatre school group who performed a lovely play at the Toronto Christmas Market. Also, Roven Nazareth shares how people in Mumbai, India celebrate Christmas in a non-catholic country.
Luiz Felipe Lamussi: Hello, this is the Dialog’s podcast! Welcome to the last episode of the year! My name is Luiz Felipe Lamussi, excited to open my Christmas gifts and your host for this season! And today I talked with students from the George Brown College theatre school who presented a lovely, funny and musical presentation in the Toronto Christmas Market for excited kids and parents walking by the charming streets of the Distillery District. “The Reindeer Games” follows an old but cheerful Rudolph training a new group of reindeers for the next Holiday season! So, let’s check how is to work and study in the middle of Toronto Christmas Market
Lamussi: I never interviewed any reindeers before, so it was a great experience today.
Cassie Davidson: Would you like to know our reindeer names?
Lamussi: Yes! You could present your “real name” and your reindeer name!
Davidson: Hello, my real name is Cassie but my reindeer name is Rudolf.
Victoria Zubick: Hello, my real name is Victoria and reindeer name is Carrots.
Gabriela Circosta: Hi! My real name is Gabriela, but my reindeer name is Carol.
Logan Jovanovski: Hi, my real name is Logan Jovanovski, but my reindeer name is Snowflake!
Pascale Behrman: Hi, my human name is Pascal, but my real name is sugarplum!
Katz: Hi! My real name is Tal Kats and my reindeer name is Sparkles!
Lamussi: It was awesome the presentation, everything. And I want to know more about the project. How it was the concept and everything?
Behrman: The project came about because we are doing a producing workshop right now and Alex Dault, who is the artistic director of a theatre company, he came to teach us about producing the show from the ground up. And that includes everything from creating the show to doing the budgets, figuring out the logistics of when, where and how it will be performed.
Davidson: And what happens if it rains.
Lamussi: Like today.
Behrman: It was great because we had the chance to do in a real-life setting by actually performing in the Christmas market. We got a little bit of money from the market to do the show so we could put that into costume and props.
Lamussi: And you wrote…
Jovanovski: We had a week to write, get all the supplies, music. And today is supposed to be our due date. But the weather stops some groups to present today. But actually, it turned out okay though.
Davidson: It really helps being so close to Santa’s village. A lot of family activity there. So we were able to capture some of those families on their way to Santa’s village.
Circosta: And was nice to interact with the people who were working there, and they were so kind to us.
Lamussi: Since you brought this about the Christmas market, how it is the relationship between the market and the theatre school? Why are you all laughing? So how is to study here at the Distillery District?
Zubick: It’s kind of surreal. The first couple of months we used to went outside and think “Oh my god, can’t believe we are here!” But now is like…
Davidson: We are in our third year, so…
Jovanovski: It’s really beautiful, it has this European feel but then after three years going to school here. And you still have that summer rush of the tourist still in September. But then it dies down and then it gets busy so you can’t buy a coffee anyways.
Zubick: But I must say that this year been actually part of the Christmas market just changed. It’s so fun! After three years you are like bored about it.
Lamussi: So it was the first time there was this change of how you are seeing it?
Zubick: Today I totally felt that. Because you are talking to people and you are involving people in what you are doing. And then people are also excited about what you are doing it. So it’s all together!
Katz: And you really appreciate what they do here in terms of Tourism too. I spoke with the head of the Chrismas Market, and they start preparing since June. It’s a big process and it’s so nice to see what they do in the end.
Zubick: I think this is a really good experience for us to do because we are in the Christmas market.
Jovanovski: There were things we didn’t expect to happen. We thought that maybe people would stand around for a couple of minutes and then leave but there were people that stud there for the whole experience.
Circosta: We don’t really expect anyone to stand in the rain for 10 minutes and watching our piece but they did. And kids sing along…
Lamussi: Yeah but the story is catchy. It is really good!
Davidson: Thank you!
Lamussi: The jokes are good.
Behrman: We tried to include a lot of music and dance within the storytelling because that you don’t have to necessarily know what is going on to follow. It really hooks people and makes then wanna stay when there is a lot to look at.
Davidson: Everyone loves reindeer!
Zubick: And another thing that I’m very excited that we actually dressed up and became reindeers. And that catches people’s attention. I think if we just came in with normal clothes, yeah it would call attention but this is so easy.
Lamussi: People wouldn’t connect.
Zubick: It was the number one out of our costumes. People saying we look so cute.
Davidson: People said to us to take pictures with them and their little kid, who was too scared to sit with Santa, but they were okay to be with us.
Circosta: Yeah, the mom of a little girl wanted her to take a picture with us but then she started crying so much. And then her mom started singing Jingle Bells and then we all start to sing it too and it was the cutest thing.
Lamussi: I also talked with Roven Nazareth, a GBC student. He shared his experience of spending Christmas here by himself and what he misses the most from home. We talk about family, friends and obviously food. Check it out!
Lamussi: Hey Roven! How are you?
Roven Nazareth: I’m good, how are you?
Lamussi: I’m fine, thanks! So you are from India?
Roven: Yes, Mumbai! The New York of India.
Lamussi: A big city?
Roven: A big city, Bollywood city. The richest of richest people living there. The poorest of poorest. Everything in Mumbai.
Lamussi: Good, good. We are here to talk about the holiday season, so first tell me how is the holiday season in India for you? Are you here since?
Roven: Since 2016. This is my third Christmas away from home. And been a Catholic child, the only child too so it has been really difficult here, trust me.
Lamussi: So, since you grow up Catholic, how is Christmas for you there?
Roven: Christmas is amazing, my mom doesn’t know how to cook, and she says she doesn’t care about it. I grow up with my grandma making sweets before Christmas. I used to call all my friends and distribute sweets. Oh man! The Catholic community in Mumbai is pretty small. You won’t find people with a mother tongue, English. Usually, people there speak Marathi or Hindi. So, it is a small community, so Chrismas, New Year and Easter are three things we look up to and grew up on.
Lamussi: But in Mumbai, most people don’t celebrate Christmas there?
Roven: Not necessarily, it depends. It is not like Toronto. In India is just into the community that happens.
Lamussi: Have you ever spent any of other celebration in a friends place? Something different than Christmas?
Roven: Yes, of course! I celebrate all the festivals! My mom’s family grew up in a Muslim town. They were the only Catholics there. I love celebrating Diwali, that is like Indian Christmas. It happens in November, so it just passed by. It is really fun, you light firecrackers on the street, and the whole country lifts it up during Diwali. If you check Google Maps during Diwali, the satellite view, India is lit! There is light everywhere. I literally celebrate all the festivals. In India, everybody is welcome to celebrate anything they want. But Christmas is just another festival.
Lamussi: And your family is a big family?
Roven: No, very small family. It is just me, my parents and my grandmother. On Christmas, my parents’ siblings come over and we have a small get together but for youths and young ones, we prefer to go out for parties and late night stuff. Just on Christmas day, the 25 of December, I would spend time home having lunch with my family.
Lamussi: Talking about food, what is a traditional Indian Catholic Christmas food?
Roven: The pork vindaloo. It is pork meat marinated in Indian spices, chili. Then you cooked the other day for six, seven hours. I can imagine my grandmother cooking it. There is another dish call sarapatel, they use pork blood on that to give color and flavor to the food. And people say that you have to do this meals nine to ten days before Christmas and you eat during Christmas because of the vinegar and the oil piker it and the flavor change. It is better to eat after 10 days. So, that is the tradition during Christmas. I’m not seeing vegetables anytime during Christmas. We have fried chicken and curry chicken. India is all about curry. But the pork thing, you would love it.
Lamussi: And now that I make you remember and think about all that food, how is going to be your Christmas here? First, how was your first Christmas here? And do you have any relatives here?
Roven: I have no relatives here except for one of my aunt who lives in Waterloo. And my first Holiday here was a disaster. I was having a hard time with my girlfriend at the time and as I said been a silver spoon kid, all the way from India, alone, trying to live a responsible life, trying to earn money, it was too difficult for me. So I went through different mental health issues. And I remember that my first Christmas here was a disaster. I was going for mass and I fought with my girlfriend. It was such a drastic fight that night. Due to that, last year I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas. I still had memories from 2016, so I went to work instead. After I came back, I spent some time with my girlfriend, a new one, a different one from the previous year. And my new girlfriend is Indian as well, so she cooked some food at home for us. But this year I think I will do something special. I will try to cook the vindaloo or sarapatel. And it is a special moment for me because I graduate school in December, so is a kind of Christmas gift for me.
Lamussi: Congratulations, man!
Roven: So now I will enjoy this Christmas.
Lamussi: And did you like this white Christmas? This is my first Christmas here, so I’m really enjoying it.
Roven: I feel you because I have a lot of friends that like to spend and live this white Christmas. It’s typical from those Home Alone kind of movies. But for me is always about sticking to the basics. I grew up in Mumbai, so I’m used to that kind of environment. And if you had spent Christmas the way I’ve spent during childhood, you would probably want to stick to that. You wouldn’t care about the Toronto movie style of Christmas. Because it is so lit in India during Christmas. Literally, I couldn’t compare the vibe there to the vibe here. I know is really beautiful here in Canada, snowing everywhere, lights everywhere. But it is two different feelings, you know? I remember one month before Christmas I used to run home from school because my apartment friends have started walking on a crib. So my friends started to be on those competitions of who makes the best crib in the town. Everybody walking on that of who makes the best Christmas stars too. If there is two building apartment there is a big star hanging in between them. And the vibe was completely different. So I like here as well but there is no comparison to my hometown.
Lamussi: Yes because the holiday season is not about the gifts. I mean, I enjoy a lot this Toronto vibe but Christmas is about the people you spend with. Like your friends, family.
Roven: Yes! You actually stole my words. In my city, I used to spend Christmas with my circle of friends. We were 20 boys whom I grew up with. They are more like my brothers to me. So, when we are together, no one gets between us. We grew up together in the same place, since childhood. So, that feeling was completely different. And also, my friends come from different religions and backgrounds. Which reminds me of during Christmas here, people can stand inside the church. Back home, the church is full, the playground full too. There are projectors and people are listening to the mass outside the church. The whole neighborhood is full.
Lamussi: People are together.
Roven: Yes! And there are projectors everywhere because people can’t get into the church. And there are so many non-catholic people outside from mass too. They are there enjoying the feel of Christmas.
Lamussi: I get it!
Lamussi: Thanks Roven for coming by today, I hope you have a really nice and warm Christmas here.
Lamussi: That’s all for today, folks! Please don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on the Itunes App or any other podcast app that you use. I promise this will be the last time I will say that, this year. If you want to send any comments, feedback or letters to Santa, email me at email@example.com. I also want to say thanks to Alison Beckwith, Frances Loiselle, Annie Newton, Eric Ollivier, Natalie Scagnetto and Michael Williamson, who together are the Runny Red Nose Collective, a lovely group who also presented at the Christmas Market the original song you are about to listen. Clown Around the Christmas Tree. That’s all for this year, see you in 2019! Bye!