First things first: While Zaraawar Mistry‘s satirical look at New Age/Eastern gurus is named Dr. Deep, it isn’t about any particular guru, including a particular one of Indian descent whose first name starts with “D.”
“It’s not a parody of one person. It is a satire of an entire genre,” Mistry says.
The work, Dr. Deep: Shake Your Head Like a Bobblehead, opens Illusion’s latest iteration of Fresh Ink. It is one of three works-in-progress to be presented at the downtown theater during July.
Mistry — a veteran performer, writer, and director who runs Dreamland Arts in St. Paul — has worked on the piece on and off over the years. He traces some of his inspiration all the way back to when he first came to the United States to study in college.
“I would be sitting in the dining hall at college and someone would come up to me and say, ‘You have this peaceful aura.’ They just loved that I was from India. They would say I was embodying Eastern wisdom, but I was just trying to have my lunch,” he says.
The ideas bubbled around in Mistry’s head for some time. “About five years ago, I thought I should try something with this. I started writing, and then my computer crashed,” he says.
Mistry found himself working on a series of more serious plays. "After those were done, I thought it was time for my satire play. The whole thing is more lighthearted,” he says.
The show isn’t so much a play as a satiric lecture by Dr. Deep, who has a whole philosophy (complete with guidebooks and other products for you to purchase) that will lead to enlightenment.
“I do recommend it for the slightly jaded. I think there is a certain older demographic who have been through it. They have experienced the ‘60s and ‘70s and the whole influx of the spirituality thing,” Mistry says.
Mistry can see the appeal. “There are those who are seeking something to fulfill them that they are not getting in Western spirituality,” he says. “When your own beliefs aren’t giving you enough to go on, it is natural to seek something else.”
The program premiered at Dreamlands in February and has been presented several times since then. Following the performances at Fresh Ink, Mistry will remount Dr. Deep for the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
“With the character of Dr. Deep, I have tried not to be too focused on one tradition or culture. I have tried to give him a broader swath. At the same time, he does speak with an Indian accent. That is purely because it is a sales strategy,” Mistry says.
Playing at Illusion offers Mistry a chance to try out the character and material in a larger house. It also introduces the character to a crowd outside of the one the performer has developed at his own venue.
“I am definitely curious to see how it plays to audiences who are unfamiliar with me,” he says.
Dr. Deep has connected with audiences. Along with his planned performances, Mistry found himself hired to play an unusual venue: a retirement party. “I am really excited to share this with new audiences,” he says.
IF YOU GO:
Fresh Ink: Dr. Deep: Shake Your Head Like a Bobblehead
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 8th Floor
528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
$15-20 for one show; $36 for two; $51 for three
For tickets and more information, call 612-339-4944 or visit online.