The first play by multi-media artist Vivek Shraya, about fame and personal transformation.
Described as "cultural rocket fuel" by Vanity Fair, Vivek Shraya is a multi-media artist whose art, music, novels, and poetry and children's books explore the beauty and the power of personal and cultural transformation. How to Fail as a Popstar is Vivek's debut theatrical work, a one-person show that chronicles her journey from singing in shopping malls to "not quite" pop music superstardom with beguiling humor and insight. A reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination, this astonishing work is a raw, honest, and hopeful depiction of the search to find one's authentic voice.
The book includes colour photographs from the show's 2020 production in Toronto, and a foreword by its director Brendan Healy.
About the authors
Vivek Shraya is the author of the young-adult collection God Loves Hair, the novel She of the Mountains, the poetry book even this page is white, and the children's picture book (with Rajni Perera) The Boy & the Bindi (all published by Arsenal Pulp Press), as well as I'm Afraid of Men and What I Love About Being QUEER. She is editor of the Arsenal Pulp Press imprint VS. Books, dedicated to work by young black, Indigenous, and writers of colour. Vivek was the 2014 recipient of the Steinert & Ferreiro Award for leadership in Toronto's LGBTQ community, the recipient of Anokhi Media's inaugural Most Promising LGBTQ Community Crusader Award in 2015, a 2015 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award finalist, and a 2015 recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize Honour of Distinction. Originally from Edmonton, she now lives in Calgary, where she is an assistant professor in the University of Calgary's Department of English.
Brendan Healy is a theater director whose credits include the premiere production of Vivek Shraya's How to Fail as a Popstar at Canadian Stage in Toronto in 2020. He is a regular instructor at the National Theatre School of Canada.
A funny, warm and honest show by a rare, 360-degree talent. -Denise Balkissoon, executive editor of Chatelaine Magazine
An important show from such an important artist. Everyone should see How to Fail as a Popstar! -Bif Naked, recording artist
Shraya may not have reached the top echelon of pop stardom, but sharing her persistence and self-discovery just might be a bigger gift. After all, these are the stories we rarely hear told. -NOW Magazine
It's a moving tale that any person who's struggled to achieve their dreams can easily relate to, and Shraya has a certain magnetism to her performance that keeps the one-woman show moving fluidly. -Broadway World
Vivek Shraya's How to Fail as a Popstar is a maguffin - a demonstration of Shraya's virtuosity as a performer, a songwriter, and writer, and is anything but a failure. It is a cutting and hilarious look at the spark and afterglow of any musician entering the industry - the adolescence, adulthood, and moribundity of this creative life-within-a-life. She claims to not "have the range," but Popstar demonstrates the opposite - a multi-disciplinary artist at the height of her powers. -Owen Pallett, violinist and composer
The work of radical self-acceptance is so challenging I never want to do it. In this piece of art, Vivek's fearless vulnerability, steady gaze and sure hand creates another way in, an opening, and all I have to do is show up. Now it's your turn. Lucky you. -Elvira Kurt, teacup butch, comedy legend and writer for Canada's Drag Race