‘Sistas Calling’ using music and dance to address anti-violence

To be staged at the Aga Khan Museum in July

By Lincoln DePradine

Dr. Roz Roach

In this summer season of cultural arts, when most people’s attention is on the enjoyment aspects of the arts, Trinidad-born Dr. Roz Roach is taking a different approach. She’s using a musical dance show, which she wrote and produced, to spark a conversation and “generate ideas towards an end to violence and racism’’ in Canadian society.

“Sistas Calling’’, in which Roach plays the role of “The Warrior’’, is promoted as a production that gives “victims of violence a voice to tell their story’’, and is also “a call for men to join the movement to work towards the eradication of violence’’.

The premier stage performance of “Sistas Calling’’ is Saturday, July 8, 7 pm, at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto.

Roach, a psychotherapist, is the first Black woman in Canada to negotiate with three levels of government to raise $5 million dollars to build Dr. Roz’s Healing Place (DRHP).

She’s executive director at the Healing Place, which serves as a centre for abused women, children, youth and youth-at-risk. Its mandate is to eradicate violence – locally, nationally, and globally.

DRHP offers access to a safe living environment, as well as recovery treatment, using a holistic approach including counselling, job-training, life skills development, and creative and educational activities.

Roach herself has utilized music as a therapeutic tool for her patients, allowing her to cultivate skills in writing, composing, and performance. 

Central to “Sistas Calling’’ is Rosa, a former resident of Dr. Roz’s Healing Place. Rosa, after migrating to Canada, endured abuse at the hands of her partner and viewers of “Sistas Calling’’ are invited to “experience this true story of healing and survival’’.

“In 2021, there were 127,082 reported victims of familial violence,” said Roach. “By putting on this show, I hope to encourage the public to help in the fight to stop the violence, and to empower them to start their own healing journeys.” 

About half-a-dozen characters form the main cast of actors in “Sistas Calling’’. They include Jamaican-born Audrey Rose, a veteran storyteller, poet and dancer. She plays, “The Priestess’’.

The production and performance crew also includes musicians, dancers, chanters and a spoken word vocalist.

One of the overall aims of the “anti-violence, anti-racism messaging production’’, according to Roach and her team, is to “inform and educate through the medium of performing arts’’.

Tickets to “Sistas Calling” are $75 – $100 each. The purchase of tickets allows patrons access to an exhibition, “Rumi and the Religion of Love,” now running at the Aga Khan Museum.

The exhibition is based on the life and legacy of Jalal al-Din Muhammad of Balkh, a famous 13th century poet whose core messages were of peace, love and inner transformation.