When I Was Better

Rita BOZI & The Blogfather of Iran /

Ken CAMERON – excerpts

(as it originally appeared in FUGA)
Productive Obsession
When I Was Better spans twenty years of the troubled love relationship between István and Etelka. The story moves between 1944 and 1964, with 11 days of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as its frame. In the aftermath of the bloody uprising, István makes a fateful decision that severs the fragile threads of his small family and takes him to Canada. Etelka is betrayed, heartbroken, and abandoned during a politically sensitive time. During the seven years of their separation, the novel moves back in time to explore the lives and emotions of these young lovers as the great forces of history conspire to tear them apart. Their eventual reunion in Canada bears the silent scars of trauma as they struggle to heal.

With today’s global refugee crisis at an all-time high, the plight of displaced persons due to war and conflict are more in the public consciousness than ever. The intergenerational impact on families and the effects of PTSD are widely recognized. In 2015, sixty years after the Hungarian Revolution Hungary erected a 13-foot-high fence to stem the tide of Syrians refugees fleeing conflict; an ironic reversal considering how the world generously opened their doors to Hungarian refugees a half century earlier. Six years in development, When I Was Better has been compared to Sofi OKSANEN’s Purge.

Hungarian Canadian writer Rita BOZI, is a trauma-focused somatic therapist, a colleague of Dr. Gabor MATÉ, a multidisciplinary performance creator, actor, playwright, retired dancer, an Alumna of The Humber School for Writers and a graduate of The National Ballet School of Canada. She has been published in The New Quarterly, FFWD Weekly, Unlikely 2.0, WritingRaw.com, Pages of Stories, and was awarded 3rd Prize in the 2012 Great Canadian Literary Hunt by THIS Magazine.

In The Blogfather of Iran a western playwright (Ken) travels to Iran to sit on the jury of an international theatre festival. He falls hard for his translator (Liliane). But she has fallen even harder for a political dissident known as The Blogfather. The Blogfather of Iran is the real-life figure Hossein DERAKHSHAN, an Iranian-Canadian journalist and internationally respected authority on internet journalism who invented the technology that opened up the world of blogging to Iran and much of the Muslim world. On a return visit to Iran in 2009 he was arrested and eventually sentenced to 19 ½ years in Iran’s most notorious prison. But today, after eight years, the government has let Hossein out on parole; his first order of business is to find Liliane.
The Blogfather of Iran is about freedom of speech and personal responsibility in an age where technology has made communication both easier and impossibly difficult. It asks if ancient technologies, such as song, story and theatre may actually have a greater impact today than ever before. And it makes a compelling case that in this world of globalized communications, false news and charged political dialogue our ability to speak truth, regardless of our origins or physical confinement, has become more crucial than ever before.
Ken CAMERON is an artist, director and playwright based in Calgary. His play Harvest has been produced across Canada and Dear Johnny Deere won the Betty Mitchell Award and the Theatre Critics Award for Outstanding Musical. Winner of the Alberta Playwriting Competition, Grand Prize, 2015

This event will be in English, with a few words of introduction in Hungarian.

Sponsor: The Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts