Translating Identities: A Playful and Thought-Provoking Look at Language Acquisition in ‘English’

Have you ever been to a country where you didn’t know the language and struggled to communicate with the locals? Now, imagine you’re an immigrant who has to relocate to a new country where you don’t speak the native language.

What aspects may be lost in translation, and how do you convey your thoughts and feelings effectively?


Sanaz Toossi’s play, co-directed by Anahita Dehbonehie and Guillermo Verdecchia, and co-produced with Soulpepper Theatre Company, offers a heartfelt and humorous exploration of the challenges of communication across languages and cultures.

The play follows four Iranian students in a TOEFL classroom in Karaj, Iran, as they grapple with the complexities of English as a foreign language.

Despite the golden class rule of “English always,” the students find themselves struggling with the nuances of the language, leading to moments of both hilarity and poignancy.

The entire play is mainly spoken in English , however the actors use an exaggerated accent to establish that they are trying to converse in English versus their normal voice when they express themselves in Farsi.

Toossi’s script is witty and insightful, showcasing the unique struggles of each character as they navigate the tricky terrain of language acquisition.

The direction by Dehbonehie and Verdecchia is masterful, bringing to life the play’s themes of identity, belonging, and the costs of assimilation.

The performances by the talented cast succeed in capturing both the humor and pathos of the play.


Ultimately, “English” offers a powerful message about the importance of communication and the value of cultural exchange. It reminds us that while language can be a barrier, it can also be a bridge, connecting us to new worlds and new perspectives.

This production is a must-see for anyone interested in the complexities of cross-cultural communication and the power of theater to inspire empathy and understanding in others.


By Sanaz Toossi
Co-Directed by Anahita Dehbonehie & Guillermo Verdecchia
A Co-Production with Soulpepper Theatre Company

Running Mar 19, 2023 – Apr 02, 2023 at the Sylvan Adams Theatre at the Segal Centre

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