Play Company Premieres Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I CALL MY BROTHERS, Now thru 2/23
The Play Company (PlayCo) presents the U.S. premiere of I Call My Brothers, a bold new work about race, suspicion and identity by celebrated young Swedish writer Jonas Hassen Khemiri. Running today, January 22-February 23 at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street), the production continues PlayCo's relationship with both Khemiri and director Erica Schmidt, whose multiple collaborations with the company include the Obie-winning 2011 premiere of Khemiri's Invasion! With I Call My Brothers, Khemiri moves to even more powerful and personal terrain, spinning a bold story out of a tragic event and asking: "What happens when we start to see ourselves as others see us?"
Tickets for I Call My Brothers, $30-40, can be purchased at www.playco.org or 866.811.4111. See above for a schedule of performances. Critics are welcome as of Thursday, January 30 for an official opening on Sunday, February 2.
The day after a car bombing, Amor has an important errand to run. He walks the city streets with his backpack and his cell phone, doing his best to blend in. But what looks normal? For 24 intense hours inside Amor's head, the lines between criminal and victim, fantasy and reality, become increasingly unreliable. I Call My Brothers is a funny and fierce showdown with prejudice and paranoia.
The play has its origins in a piece Khemiri published in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in December 2010, one week after the suicide bombing in Stockholm. Khemiri later developed this brief response into a full-length novel, which was adapted for the stage in 2013. The work toured Sweden with Riksteatern and was performed in London at the Arcola Theater. Following up on these themes, Khemiri wrote an open letter in 2013 to Sweden's Minister for Justice, Beatrice Ask, challenging her defense of racial profiling. The article made history as the most shared article ever in Sweden. It was subsequently published in The New York Times and International Herald Tribune.
Rachel Willson-Broyles has written the English translation of Khemiri's original Swedish text; PlayCo also commissioned her prior translation of Invasion!, and she has translated other plays, novels and short stories by the author. The design team includes Daniel Zimmerman (set), Jessica Pabst (costumes) Jeff Croiter (lighting) and Bart Fasbender (sound).
While I Call My Brothers features the same writer/director creative team-and a similar engagement with current events and larger questions such as identity and perception- as Invasion!, the new work differs in structure and tone. While Invasion! began with a jolting coup de théâtre and unfolded as a chain of mostly comical scenes, I Call My Brothers follows a more direct narrative arc and is as poignant as it is humorous.
I Call My Brothers exemplifies the unique work of PlayCo, which is led by Founding Producer Kate Loewald and Executive Producer Lauren Weigel. PlayCo creates new productions-often first English-language productions, with translations commissioned by the company-of plays from around the world, including the U.S., to advance a dynamic, international experience of contemporary theater as part of the American repertoire. The New York-based company has garnered awards and critical acclaim for its productions of works by Toshiki Okada (Japan), Roland Schimmelpfennig (Germany), Vijay Tendulkar (India), Lloyd Suh (U.S.) and the Presnyakov Brothers (Russia), among many others.