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Vertigo Theatre welcomes Calgary playwright Arun Lakra’s Heist to bring a new take on a classic genre

By Ansharah Shakil, January 30 2024—

The world premiere of local playwright Arun Lakra’s Heist is showing from Jan. 27 to Feb. 25 at Vertigo Theatre. Lakra, who completed his undergraduate studies at McGill University and the University of Calgary, currently resides in Calgary, where he contributes to the medical and artistic community as a surgeon and writer. 

“I’m really excited about watching this whole thing come together from the costumes to the props to the dialects to the acting,” Lakra told the Gauntlet. “Calgary’s my hometown, and so this is a fun opportunity for me to share this play with friends and family.”

Heist centres around a band of criminals attempting to pull off a diamond heist and is inspired by films like Ocean’s Eleven, one of Lakra’s favourite heist films. 

“When my family sits down to have a movie night, it’s always a bit of a challenge trying to find a movie that all of us can get behind, but the heist genre [and Ocean’s Eleven] is one we can all watch together,” he explained. 

The play is one for multigenerational audiences, the kind that will have you on the edge of your seat, where you can spend the way home discussing plot revelations. Its unique take on the heist genre through its play medium includes the use of lasers, drones and projections, as well as quick-paced scenes, a rarity for most theatre. 

“[In] a heist, the audience will come in with certain expectations,” Lakra said. “As a writer, I was cognizant of wanting to deliver [those] expectations, but on top of that, I wanted to be original. I want the audience to have an experience they haven’t had before.”

Writing the script involved trying to be in line with the audience’s expectations and subverting them. This kind of balancing act is nothing new for Lakra, who has led a dual career as a doctor and playwright for years, working in the space where art and science collide. 

“I’ve spent the bulk of my career toggling back and forth between two worlds,” he said. “[Writing] has made me a better doctor. Being a doctor has helped me become a better writer.”

He encourages anyone interested in both the arts and sciences to be passionate about both in a strategic manner. 

“I feel it’s really important that people who have interests in multiple spheres don’t […] have to choose one over the other,” he said.

The play is a surprising, entertaining journey that includes AfterHeist, a mini-sequel post-show program which will be sent as a link to audiences after they’ve left the theatre. 

“Heist is a fun, funny, edge-of-your-seat mystery and twisty thriller,” Lakra said. “My goal is to have the audience go on this journey [with] a bunch of twists and turns which will hopefully keep them guessing throughout.”

Lakra hopes people will attend Heist to be surprised and entertained. Tickets for Heist and more information about the play can be found on Vertigo Theatre’s website and Lakra’s website.

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