2021-2022,  blog

How do you break a cycle of revenge?

Blog by Indrit Kasapi, Writer, Performer & Choreographer | Toka
Indrit is a white man with a shaved head and dark beard. He is gazing ahead at the camera, wearing a grey hoodie behind a white brick wall

Born in Albania, Indrit Kasapi and his family are privileged to make Tkarón:to their home since 2000. He is the Founding and current Artistic Producer for lemonTree creations and Associate Artistic Director for Theatre Passe Muraille. Indrit has been a company member of the award winning dance theatre company CORPUS since 2008. Through Corpus he has helped develop and premiere two new works (Machina Nuptialis, House Guests) and continued touring other repertoire to North America, Europe and Asia. He’s a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, a 2018 Harold Award Recipient and a 2020 Dora Nominated performer. Indrit believes his art must provide necessary discourse to fight against white supremacy, colonialism, heteronormativity and misogyny. 

When I wrote the very first draft of Toka in 2017, I was asking the question:

“How does the main character Ermal get out of a generational blood feud?”

I spent the next few years asking many more questions about the characters, the direction, and the creative decisions.

Ermal, played by Christopher, is struggling as his sister Arjola tries to ground him.

In the photo: Kat Khan and Christopher Manousos | Photo by Brian Medina

What followed in 2020, however, were a pouring of unprecedented and difficult operational questions. Having been programmed to premiere in-person at Theatre Passe Muraille, we were facing a global pandemic which postponed this play 2 times. Little did I know, also, that I would be moving into the Interim Managing Director position at TPM just as the digital production, Toka, was planning to shoot.

I have always loved being on both sides of theatre-making as an artist and as a producer. Moving into this new position at TPM has been a thrill because I strongly believe that it is an exciting time to be working for the company; a time full of reinvigoration and innovation. And I am honoured that my artistic voice with the production of Toka is a part of this excitement.

In the photo: Kejd Kuqo, Indrit Kasapi, Cole Alvis | Photo by Brian Medina

As you may know already, Toka centres around an ancient Albanian custom of blood taking.

Facing the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, with mountains covering a vast majority of the country, Albania, my homeland, is a beautiful country: rich in culture and history, with beautiful ancient architecture and incredibly delicious food. And did I mention the stunning beaches along the south of the country as well as the fact that it is the homeland of several exciting artists and world leaders such as, actors John and James Belushi, pop singer Bebe Rexa, and writer Ismail Kadare.

But in the media you hear most about the gjakmarrja” (blood feuds).

It can seem like a “barbaric” justice system to us in the West. And certainly, when I began working on this project I felt somewhat that way. But the more I got to know about Albanian honour and familial duty, the more I understood the importance of accountability to a community.

Creative Team of Toka / Photo by Brian Medina

One way to stay accountable is to understand that every action has a consequence. In the ancient times my people understood and required the community to pause and think about their actions, and how it would affect the generations to come.

When I think of justice, of course, I think of forgiveness and with this piece my quest ultimately became a search, through these characters, to find out how we can arrive at forgiveness. This is such an important question for myself and I hope for all of us as humans right now. If you live on Turtle Island, like I do as a settler, have you thought about the justice Indigenous folx have yet to receive? Or Palestinian people, or Ukrainian people? The list goes on.

How are we going to be able to forgive each other?

I hope you will think about the ways you’re personally implicated in violence and how forgiveness is possible. The play offers the beginning of this complex discussion with the desire for us as a humanity to find ways to move towards healing.

Toka is finally coming to you, digitally, in less than 10 days!

I hope you will join us.

Toka by Indrit Kasapi — A lemonTree creations and Theatre Passe Muraille Digital Co-Production

Running digitally, April 20—23, 2022

Accessibility: Audio descriptions, Digital Relaxed Run, and Captioned Performances in both English/Albanian are available. Please see show page for more info, or call our box office at 416-504-7529