Bye Bye Bombay hello Fringe

Cara Yeates steps away from Bollywood to perform in the Canadian Fringe circuit

Cara Yeates — who had wanted to travel to Asia for some time — had been following the e-mail accounts of a friend working in Bombay’s film industry. “She was sending me these outrageous e-mails and these really inspired me to go and experience it” she says noting that given her wanderlust it was “a really good excuse.” Yeates originally stayed in India for a month to research and write her show Bye Bye Bombay — as she notes writing about India when you’re not there is quite difficult. She returned to India a second time again planning to stay for a month but was offered a role in a film and as she says everything just started falling into place. “I sort of looked at going back to rainy Vancouver and didn’t have anything particularly interesting going on there. So I just decided to stay. It was really challenging and wonderful — the challenges of being a single white female in that society and culture. Although Bombay is quite cosmopolitan and open there was still the matter of trying to find an apartment by myself. There were still people who didn’t quite understand why (I) would be living alone — like ‘why aren’t you married?’ or ‘what’s going on?’” Yeates worked in the Bollywood film and television industry for four months before coming back to Canada to get Bye Bye Bombay on its feet. The show itself written and performed by Yeates and directed by Yono Katz explores India through a variety of media — theatre video photographs and marionettes. “I’ve always been a very visual person. When I decided I wanted to write a play I knew I wanted to play with multimedia” she says noting she took 20 hours of video footage in India knowing some would be in her show. “I’m also really interested in mixing the arts and I feel that theatre is a beautiful way to do that. You can have music and all these visuals and do basically whatever you want in a live form.” The show’s marionettes have their own story as well. As Yeates was travelling through Rajasthan she discovered a small puppet shop and asked the owner if she could learn how to make puppets. “I met this beautiful man and we sat on little stools smoking beedies and drinking chai for four days and making puppets. He took me back to his home introduced me to his family and tried to adopt me” she laughs. This particular experience stays with Yeates as one of the many examples of the great generosity shown to her in India. The family she stayed with dressed her in Rajasthani clothes danced with her fed her and let her sleep in their only bed. “I have these beautiful puppets to show from them and I’m really glad we got to use them in the show.”