My first involvement in theater goes back to 1956-57 when we formed Young Farmers Club at our village, Rode in Punjab. Then a grade 11 student, I and brother Navtej Bharati along with other kids of the village got together to organize cultural activities in the village. We were inspired by the then Peace Movement in which our maternal uncle Sadhu Singh Talib was much involved along with his team; they staged peace plays in the villages of the area. Navtej acted, in some of these plays, as a young girl whose brother was killed in war. I just helped the actors with water or tea. The first play Navtej and I jointly wrote and work-shopped with other actors was “Chacha Sharha kyon Riha (Why Uncle Remained a Bachelor) -It was because the uncle lost his leg in war. Read more

Canada’s founder of Punjabi theatre

Rebirth of Gandhi (English; time: 90 minutes; characters: 9).
This full length play in English deals with the complexties of India’s caste system that still has a strong hold on South Asian societies and their diasporas. Mahatma Gandhi once prayed: Lord, in my nest life let me take birth into a family of untouchables so I can feel their pains and lead them into liberation.”  In the play the Mahatma does take birth in an outcaste family and goes through experiences he had never imagined. seriousness and humor go hand in hand in the play.
The play was premiered jointly by exploreASIAN organizaton and the Chetna Association of Canada to a full house at Surrey Arts Center in May 2004. The first act of the play was also staged at a program organized by the World Peace Forum at the University of British Columbia in June 2006, and then at the international conference, “Literature For Our Times”, at the University of British Columbia in August 2007.  The play received good publicity and reviews in the media. Read more

Dooja Paasa (Punjabi; time: 45 minutes;  Characters: 6)
The play is about a Sikh gentleman who find it hard to decide whether to keep or not keep wearing the turban after arriving in Canada. It is the first Canadian Punjabi play written and staged in Canada (Vancouver, 1977). “This is an exemplary play because of its theme, tight structure, and natural dialogue” Dr. Mohanjit, poet & critic, in Tribune, India, 1981). Read More

Komagata Maru (Punjabi; 140 minutes; Main characters: 11)
Based on the historical incident of Komagata Maru (Vancouver, 1914) the play exposes the British “justice system” and Canadian racism in the early decades of the 20th century. Komagata Maru was the first full length Punjabi play written and directed by Canadian artists. “From its theme and performance point of view, I consider this a very successful play” – Dr. Kulbir S. Kang, critic & essayist, in The Tribune, India, 1983. Read More

Nirlajj  (Punjabi; time: 120 minutes;  Characters: 10)
Nirlajj deals with the issues of sex selection and family violence in the Indo-Canadian community. The play in its various versions was staged in several cities of Canada. Its sixth performance was done in Victoria in March 1997.  “Ajmer is among the top names in modern Punjabi poetry, Nirlajj establishes him firmly as a playwright too.” – Dr. M.S. Randhawa, editor, Punjab Times; Vancouver, 1996. Read More

One Girl One Dream  (Punjabi; time: 50 minutes; Characters: 6)
A young woman in Punjab dreams of beautiful life in Canada but faces harsh family violence on her arrival in the Canadian city of Vancouver. The play portrays mental deterioration of the woman as she endures violence.  One Girl One Dream has been staged several times in Vancouver  and in the United States. “Our top directors and actors should try their artistic skills on this play.” – Ajmer Aulakh, a leading playwright and director, Punjab. Read More

Teesari Akh  (Punjabi; time: 75 minutes; Characters: 5)
The play is based on violence and break-ups prevalent in Indo-Canadian families. It tells the story of ten year old Shelley torn between her mother and father who are separating. The play had its first performance in Vancouver, 1985. Later it was extensively revised and Published in its entirety in the monthly Watan under a new name Suche Hath. The original play was again performed by Gurdip Arts Academy in a program organized jointly by Mosaic and RedFM radio on 26 March 2010 in North Delta Senior Secondry School Auditorium, BC. See More

Visa  (Punjabi; time: 45 minutes; Characters: 8)
The protagonist of this satirical play loses all his clothes and receives stacks of forms as he goes from office to office to obtain a Canadian visa (in India). Visa has been staged in Canada and dozens of times in Punjab, India. “Rode has shown us a realistic picture of corruption in this field” – Ajmer Aulakh, in Sirjana, 1981. Read more

Chetna (co-authored, Punjabi;  time: 50 minutes; Characters: 8)
Chetna consists of six short plays on violence against women. The plays were created in workshops by Ajmer Rode, Surjeet Kalsey and several other participating actors. Chetna has been performed several times at different places including Vancouver and Abbotsford in British Columbia. Read more

Village of Men (English and Punjabi, 12 TV PSAs, Characters:8)
The play portrays domestic violence involving a young couple Paul and Rani and consists of 6 TV scenes each in English and Punjabi. The play was done under a project initiated by the Abbotsford Community Services Society of British Columbia, Canada, and produced by upNext Media a professional movie company based in metro Vancouver. The scripts of the 12 scenes were written and directed by Ajmer Rode.  A DVD of the play was also produced.  “This DVD represents hundreds of hours of work that you all put in to make this production a success it has become.” – Jon Strocel, upNext Media director.

BILL NINETEEN (a radio play)
Produced on the Co-op radio Vancouver, June 1987; published in the Canada Darpan in June 1987. Read more

The Fragrant Grass 
(Time: 120 minutes;  Characters:10)
Full length play in Punjabi and English dealing with youth and drugs. Readings done at several places but hasn’t been staged yet (2006). Read more

Stair to Nowhere
(Time: 120 minutes; Characters: 11)

This Punjabi play looks at human existence at the lowest stratum, shows how a family reduces from labor to begging to garbage eating. The play can be performed as a full-length play or as three one-act plays separately. Stair to nowhere was written in mid eighties, was read in several sittings but not produced. Read more

Raja Harish Chander
A monologue in Hindi written specially for Vancouver’s veteran actor Gurcharn Dua. The play is based on the classical story of satyavadi Raja Harish Chandar. Hasn’t been produced yet.
Read more


Plays by Other Writers

Toori wala Kotha (The hay barn)
written by Ajmer Aulakh, directed by Ajmer Rode
This is one of the top Punjabi plays . Its Canadian production by Bharati Nat Kendar in late eighties was directed by Ajmer Rode in Carpennters’ Hall, Westminister, British Columbia. He also wrote an introductory scene to connect the play to life of Indo-Canadians. “This performance surpasses even the one I saw in Punjab.” –Gursharn Singh, Punjabi dramatist. Read more

Written by Ranajang Bahadur (first scene written by Ajmer Rode)
This Punjabi play 
is based on Spanish writer Lorca’s famous play Yerma. It was performed several times in Greater Vancouver in late eighties. Ajmer Rode wrote and directed its first scene and also acted in the play. Read more

Ratta Salu
by Dr. Harcharn Singh
The play was produced in Vancouver’s prestigious Queen Elizebeth Play House in the Seventies by the Watno Dur Art Foundation (Vancouver). Yog Raj Sedha directed the plays. Ajmer Rode prepared its music and acted as a production advisor. Read more

Loha Kutt
Written by Balwant Gargi
The play was also performed in the Queen Elizebeth Play House in the Seventies by the Watno Dur Art Foundation (Vancouver). Yog Raj Sedha directed the plays. Ajmer Rode prepared its music and acted as a production advisor. Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *