CAIRO – Giving voice to American Muslim women, a California show will depict the negative portrayals of veiled women post 9/11 in a bid to create dialogue, amid soaring Islamophobia.
“I hope it’s entertaining and I hope it creates dialogue,” Rohina Malik, a Muslim Chicago playwright and actress, told Times Herald.
“I’m looking forward to the after-show discussion where we can really have an honest conversation.”
Malik was talking about her play, Unveiled, coming to the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns on Sunday, April 26.
Written in 2008, the play tells the stories of love, compassion, culture and tolerance from the eyes of five Muslim women. Its concept comes from an expression in the Qur’an, which asks people to remove the veil from their heart.
“The world premiere sold out so quickly, and I realized that Americans are really hungry to hear from a Muslim voice, especially with the current climate,” said Malik, who is of Indian and Pakistani descent.
Mixing fiction and personal experience, the one-woman show aims to highlight abuse faced by veiled Muslim women in the US.
“People are stereotyping and it’s really dangerous,” she said.
“Discrimination never starts with a gun or a knife, it starts with the environment.”
Born in London and of South Asian descent, Malik is also a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and an artistic associate at the 16th Street Theater and Voyage Theater Company in NYC, in addition to being a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Her work has been produced or developed at The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, 16th Street Theater, Brava Theater, Crossroads Theater, Chicago Dramatists, and Theater Project Baltimore.
She was also recently awarded the Y Award with the Evanston YWCA for her work to end racism and empower women.
Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life. Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil in this critically acclaimed one-woman show.
And well ahead of the June 1 premier of Unveiled at New York’s Voyage Theater Company, reviews are already exalting Malik’s efforts.
The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones said of the one-woman play, “Rohina Malik, the hugely talented writer-actress at the center of the Victory Gardens solo show “Unveiled,” is a remarkable new theatrical voice in Chicago. In her rich, upbeat and very enjoyable 70-minute collection of five character studies of Muslim women in modern-day America, Malik gives voice to characters from whom we hear far too little in the theater.”
A “terrific show… intellectually engrossing work of theater,” declared Chicago Tribune’s Nina Metz.
Tom Witom, Pioneer Press: “Unveiled offers a provocative, insightful and uplifting theater experience.”
“A compelling 70-minute piece, rich with illuminating surprises drawing the audience into worlds that are, both unique and truly universal. It is terrifically entertaining,” stated Catey Sullivan of the Chicago Examiner.
Web Behrens of the Chicago Free Press advised, “The stories are important, to be sure, but the cumulative effect is weighty.”
Malik’s free show is co-organized by the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Benicia, in association with its outreach program, the Abraham Path Initiative, which encourages the understanding of the Abrahamic faiths, mainly Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
“It’s important to learn about people’s cultures from hearing their stories,” Rev. Jeanne Forte said.
“Especially post 9/11, there’s so much negativity portrayed in the media about Islam. I think it’s really important to hear and learn the positive stories, especially from a Muslim woman.”