Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Rep Presents The Provocative "Unveiled" by Rohina Malik- Lifting The Veil of Ignorance and Islamophobia




Rohina Malik as Shabana, a South Asian rapper
"Unveiled" by Rohina Malik
New Rep
Through January 28th
Mosesian Arts Center
Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

The theme for this season at New Rep is "Resilience." Within that theme is a series entitled "Statements of Survival." The current production running in the black box theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts fits these themes to a T. The production is co-presented with Greater Boston Stage Company, which will host the play in February in their space in Stoneham Square.

Using as a launching pad her owned experiences as a Muslim woman wearing the hijab, Rohina Malik, has crafted a play consisting of five vignettes. Each of the five women soliloquize, sharing their reasons for wearing the veil - the hijab - and the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that go on behind their veil. The women are:
  • Maryam, a Pakistani immigrant
  • Noor,a Moroccan American, born and raised in Chicago
  • Inez, an African-American convert or "revert" to Islam
  • Shabana, a South Asian rapper
  • Layla, a Palestinian immigrant
Rohina Malik
"Unveiled" by Rohina Malik
New Rep
Through January 28th
Mosesian Arts Center
Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures


What these five women share in common is their faith and their garb - and their love for tea or coffee. In all other aspects, they are individuals with their own stories, personalities, and ways of relating to the world that often fears them or rejects them.

Ms. Malik is powerful in her portrayal of these memorable women. One by one, their stories tear away shreds of the veil of ignorance and fear about Islam that many of us carry within us. We learn that Muslims are not a homogeneous horde hell bent on terror and destruction. We learn that some of them lost relatives and close friends in the towers on 9/11 - innocent victims. Using tea and coffee as a uniting theme, each of the women warmly welcomes the audience into her world. And each performance is followed by a talk back with the author/actor that features tea and cookies!

The result of this encounter is that each sentient audience member experiences the transformation of having veils lifted from his eyes or her heart - veils of ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear. A simple set by Jeffrey Petersen of gorgeous oriental rugs and a table with tea accouterments is all that Ms. Malik needs to take us on a magic carpet ride of discovery. Lighting is by Matthew Guminski. During key moments, the monologues are accompanied by a musician playing an oud, a Middle Eastern lute-like stringed instrument.

The play will be presented in Watertown through January 28th. You do not want to miss this special gift.

Enjoy!

Al

New Rep Website

Friday, January 12, 2018

ArtsEmerson Presents "Ada/Ava" by Chicago's Manual Cinema - Riding on the Wings of Unfettered Imagination


Before the weekend is over, make your way to Emerson's Paramount Center to see the astonishing  "Ada/Ava" by Chicago-based Manual Cinema, and presented by ArtsEmerson. There remain only four more chances to see this innovative and moving production - this evening, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon.

The story is of spinster twin sisters who are keepers of a remote lighthouse. Ada and Ava are mirror images of one another, We see them changing the bulb for the lighthouse, playing chess, and sharing their lives. Then one of the twins dies, and the story becomes one of death and loss and adjustment. What makes this such a remarkable theatrical event is that the gifted artists of Manual Cinema tell the story without words, using a large screen that hangs from the proscenium onto which are projected shadow images - some from puppets, some from props, and some from live actors. Ada is portrayed by Julia Miller, Ava by Lizi Breit, with additional puppetry provided by Drew Dir, Sam Deutsch, and Sarah Fornace. The action is accompanied by live music and sound effects provided by Maren Celest,Ben Kauffman, and Alexander Ellsworth.

The production is Directed by Drew Dir, Score and Sound Design is by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman, and Production Design is by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller.



The overall effect is a fascinating combination of 17th century "lanterna magica" - the magic lantern - and Balinese shadow puppets - the "Wayang kulit."

Wayang Kulit - Shadow puppets
In his program notes, ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower says that when the audience finishes watching this production, "You have been riding on the wings of unfettered imagination." He is so right, for it is the creativity, artistry, and imagination of this troupe, using simple and primitive tools, that allow us to suspend disbelief.And that allows us to attach real feeling to two dimensional shadowy images that magically transform into fully realized human beings in the photosynthesis that occurs in our souls. Such is the power of great art. Like the beam of light projected by Ada and Ava's lighthouse, illuminating dark and dangerous places, great art shines a light of warning and of hope. I hope that you will be drawn to the light the shines brightly this weekend emanating from the Paramount Center.

Enjoy!

Al

ArtsEmerson Website