Asylum (New Story Productions) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster for Asylum from the 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival

Asylum, produced by New Story Productions, is playing on-demand at the virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival. The punchy theatre-dance work is only seven minutes in length. It follows Amir (played by Armon Ghaeinizadeh) in his process of applying for asylum in Canada. Amir first left Iran precariously on a school visa to join a dance program in Canada. This piece focuses on the middle ground of first leaving Iran and the possibility of being forced to go back to a culture that has a long and complex history with dancing, and where anything outside of heterosexual marriage is punishable by law.

Shots transition from Amir dancing on a beach, sometimes joined by another dancer (Tina Bararian) who symbolizes a friend from Iran in a dire situation, to shots of Amir in an interview for the asylum application. In this interview, he becomes more and more upset in answering questions, until emotionally proclaiming ‘why don’t you understand?’.

I will say I don’t feel that the dancing is the strongest in the work, but the underlying theme and production make it a great short piece to fit into your virtual Fringe agenda. Asylum puts a powerful story and face to human rights issues worldwide, and I would love to see more work on this topic by the company.


  • Asylum is playing on-demand at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.
  • Purchase a $5 Membership to access the On-Demand programming on the Fringe website, then Pay What You Can to each show as you go with a suggested price of $13 per show.
  • Memberships can be purchased here.  View the virtual on-demand show listings here.
  • Accessibility notes:
    • On-Demand shows: videos are closed captioned, transcripts are available for all audio content, documents are screen-reader friendly, and all digital images are provided with alternative text descriptions. These access supplements have been generated by the company and reviewed by the Festival. They may vary slightly from company to company.
    • Fringe Primetime presentations will feature Auto-Transcribed Captioning.
  • Content warnings: Parental Guidance, Graphic violence, Suicide, Mental Health and Domestic Violence.

Photo provided by the company.