In fact, she was obsessed with it. The Dixon Road playwright holds Disney in very high regard alongside Lin Manuel-Miranda’s The Heights. However, it took an old hand-me-down laptop with no internet connection, Disney ditties, and familial support to light a fire under a dream she thought was from within her reach.
Adar was a writer. It’s what kept her mind engaged after becoming fatigued with the mindless draw of Microsoft Paint. She wrote stories but had no idea where to begin with the idea of becoming a writer. So with her writing years behind her, she embarked on a journey to med school in China, satiated with the alter ego of doctor by day and writer by night. This is where she found her voice.
“There was a lot of exploration in this country while pursuing this medical career. And that was also the time that I wrote the most because I felt the most isolated. I finished my first speculative fiction story about a girl who kept getting reincarnated while I was living in China. It was one of those things where it was always there, but I never really could fully leap in,” says Adar.
Adar’s parents moved her out to Saskatchewan, where she continued her pre-med courses. But the thrill and excitement were still null and void. It simply wasn’t her calling. But while Adar was in a creative class she took with Saskatchewan novelist Guy Vanderhaeghe, she received all the ammunition she needed to redirect her vision. “At some point, he sort of casually said, ‘It takes just as long to be a doctor as it does to be a good writer. It just depends on what you use your time with.’ And I was like, shit!” (laughs), says Adar.
So, after an emotional and drama-filled breakdown with her parents (who supported her fully), Adar ditched med school and was on her way to pursuing a B.A. in Fine Arts. Her career shift has so far proven to be fruitful. Since then, Adar has gone on to work on publicity, marketing and digital ventures. In the in-between time, she also zoned into her writing craft, transitioning herself into a playwright. We both implicitly agreed that it would be amazing to see more Black creators delve into writing musicals. Especially with our storytelling prowess—we believe it would be a perfect fit. Adar emphatically concurs, most likely because that’s where her power resides.
Her musical Dixon Road speaks about her Somali father’s settling in Canada from their war-torn country. His first chosen place to raise his family was in the community-orientated Dixon neighbourhood. An area that stands out as the most populated Somali area in Toronto. Adar recalls being surrounded by family, with cousins in every building. She remembers a time of gatherings and hangouts in the middle of the three complexes and everyone returning to their respective homes after the fun subsided. It was a place filled with joy and vibrancy. And regardless of how far she moved away, it always remained home.
Writing Dixon Road made Adar pose many questions to herself to search deeply for answers. “At what place do you have to stand up for your own dreams while here? Because while our parents had their opportunities slashed as they came here, being born in Canada, I'm presented with a lot more opportunities. It felt weird to say, ‘I want to be a writer’ despite what my parents had gone through. But there is an inherent truth to the fact that dreams are important for the livelihood of a community. Being able to sort out what I'm exploring a lot now, especially as we're in rehearsal periods leading up to the show, I can still edit. So I'm still exploring things like how you can have your own independence but also understand that you're also a part of this bigger thing. That is something I'm continuing to grapple with,” Adar explains.
With a little exploration and deviation from writing a novel to the first musical theatre song Adar has ever written, Dixon Road started to form right before her eyes. And now it’s being presented by The Musical Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre Company. We can expect a touch of R&B, hip hop, and Somali music Adar was exposed to while researching. “I was able to explore the theatrical and musical history of my own country that I didn't have any connection to because I think many of us in our generation tend to go the academic route. It sometimes erases this rich history of the arts that we had back home. There is a legacy of artists that I come from and didn't know about, but I got to learn that,” says Adar. And would you believe this all began in 2017? And now we are finally privy to Adar's musical piece hitting the stage five years later.
Being inspired and supported by the storytelling OG himself, K'naan The Dusty Foot Philosopher, and again, throwing Disney in the mix—Adar’s creative cornerstone is unyielding. But throughout everything, she has learned never to take herself seriously and live by her own advice. “Not putting yourself out there is the worst thing you can do. Who cares if the piece that you're working on isn't ready. The more I was able to share myself with people, the more they were able to help me get to where I wanted to go. And that requires not being caged and vulnerable. It means sharing your voice and telling people about your dreams, which is nerve-wracking.”
All in all, Adar is excited to continue learning and bring Dixon Road to the community. She’s still raising questions and scribbling down ideas as they come. But there’s no denying that all roads lead back to the purpose and strength of community. “That resilience was inherited by me. I'm inspired by the community, and I see the joy in the community. So hopefully, when people get to see this show, they get to see that joy outside of what the neighbourhood headlines have been saying about this community, you know?”
Yes, Fatuma. We know all too well.
You can catch Dixon Road at The Musical Stage Company opening on June 9, running to June 19 at the outdoor High Park Amphitheatre.