This past summer, I had the privilege of being invited to a theatre production done by the Youth Infringement Festival. The play, called “So You’re from South Africa, eh?”, was directed by Algonquin College graduate Madison Bateman, and both produced and starred University of Ottawa Theatre students, Perushka and Priyanka Gopalkista.
“It was our idea to wear black to represent different time periods” Priyanka explained. Scarves, all-black costumes, and minimal makeup were used to represent their lives spanning all the way back to their upbringing in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“We weren’t allowed to wear makeup” says Priyanka. Growing up with school uniforms in South Africa made experimenting with fashion completely out of the question. They used a smoky eye look to represent the current era of their lives.
While they’re still adapting to culture shock, exposure to new fashion, and the different styles on campus and in the country, I ask them what beauty meant to them.
Priyanka and Perushka both agree, “confidence, it’s a natural expression of yourself”. Adding that “confidence will showcase your beauty”. Both girls explain that beauty can be through both inner and outer expression. However, they point out that “if someone has a Gucci hand bag, you shouldn’t compare”, and you shouldn’t do it for other people, nor should you compete with others.
I then ask the girls, “what is something you can’t live without?”
Perushka chooses her journal, “to release thoughts and emotions”. For Priyanka, it’s music, “as an expression of movement through dance” she explained.
Selena Gomez, Zendaya, and Alicia Keys are said to be their fashion role models, with Alicia Keys in particular exemplifying an “authenticity” for Perushka.
More importantly, I ask them how excited they are about where they are in their lives right now, on a scale from one and ten.
They both turn to each other and laugh, “seven” Priyanka says, followed by a “six and a half” from Perushka.
Both girls continue their work producing plays both on campus and in the community.