In the search for ourselves, we often imagine a person who we wish we could be, and aspire to be that person. But oftentimes, once we become who we aspire to be, we then desire to become someone else. That’s what Katalin does in Andrew Faiz’s Aromas, a play about life, art, and the struggle of finding yourself.
Aromas, born out of Faiz’s own search for identity, follows Katalin and her sex-working alter-ego Chanel, as they change and impact each other and the people around them in profound ways. When asked about this duo-character and what she really wants, Faiz explains that Katalin asks herself: “WHO AM I?” She is exploring her identity and uses Chanel, a sex worker, to find herself. According to Faiz, sex is used in the play as a metaphor for identity, and as Chanel waits for each customer in her room, she acts like a different person for each one. This is similar to how we all play a variety of roles in every instance in our lives, and we “wear a lot of hats.”
Faiz wrote this play as an exploration of his own identity, during the difficult period before and after his mother’s passing. For Faiz, Aromas is an emotional and artistic struggle that explores every human’s identity, how we define ourselves through relationships, and what happens when these relationships change or disappear. Faiz points out that when a parent dies, you ask yourself: “WHO AM I?” and you go through a series of emotions. You tend to look back and wonder about the creation of who you are and how you got there, and wonder how your life will be impacted moving forward.
Faiz reveals: “When my own mother passed away I was 49 or 50 years old, and my cousin came to me and said, ‘you’re an orphan now.’ I thought that it was such a bizarre statement, but I was parent-less.”
Faiz stresses that even through his healing process and the creation of this play, finding an absolute sense of self is virtually unattainable. But Faiz expresses that wearing different hats isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “We all search for something absolute, but there is no such thing. We search through religious, spiritual, and artistic realms, but nothing is absolute and finite. It is not about a stated identity, but about being present and alive to the moment, and that is more important to being true to yourself.”
Katalin is a product of this discovery. Katalin shows the audience that human beings are not “instruments of fate.” Faiz turned the questioning over to me. “Are we fated to be who we are? Katalin says NO. We are not instruments of fate, but we make our own.”
Aromas is playing at the RED Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen Street East) on Sept 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27; Oct 1, 2, 3, 4. Tickets $23: pre-book @ http://secureaseat.com/buy-tickets/ or Cash @ door.