If you’ve visited the Tenement Museum, you may have been lucky enough to enjoy a tour led by Raj Varma. Raj moved to the States from New Zealand a few years ago. By day, he is one of our spirited and knowledgeable educators, helping visitors explore the history of 97 Orchard and the streets of the Lower East Side. By night, Raj is still exploring the story of immigration, but through a very different media. Raj is the co-writer and soul actor in New York’s showing of D’Arranged Marriage a comedy about Sanjay, a young man of Indian descent living in New Zealand who faces a pending arranged marriage. Raj plays all eight characters in the show, which is currently at the Triad. Tonight, those of you attending Tenement Talks will get to see Raj in action as he performs parts of the show for us.
Checking out clips of D'Arranged Marriage proves that this week's program is sure to be a lot of laughs, but many of the themes—generation gaps, culture clashes, ambition, community, family and belonging—are similar to those we explore here at the museum. Raj told me a little about how his work at the museum, his comedy, and even his personal story relate.
I wanted to know if he saw any parallels between the characters of D'Arranged Marriage and the people whose lives are represented at the Tenement Museum:
We got serious about comedy and Raj talked about the role artists and other members of the entertainment community play in breaking through stereotypes and prejudices:
I know D’Arranged Marriage is going to be a lot of fun. Moreover, I expect we'll get some insight into more recent waves and experiences of immigration. I hope to see you there!
Join us tonight at 6:30 pm at 108 Orchard Street. Doors open at 6:00 pm. As usual, this Tenement Talk is free and open to the public.
- Posted by Julia with special thanks to Joe Klarl