PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD to Open 55454 SERIES
Launching the 55454 SERIES, Africans and Muslims in America, is PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD by acclaimed playwright Egyptian-born Yussef El Guindi. Smart and funny, this winner of the American Theatre Critics' Steinberg New American Play Award is a comic love story centering on a Muslim immigrant who falls in love with an American non-Muslim woman, after immigrating to the US for an arranged marriage with an American Muslim. Hailed as "...a comic charmer and a humane reminder that most of us are pilgrims of one kind or another in this big, complicated, rewarding land we share," by The Seattle Times, PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI... is the perfect opener for Mixed Blood's Series, named after its zip code, which will continue into spring.
Artistic Director Jack Reuler: The world that Mixed Blood's mission envisions is alive and well in Cedar Riverside. Cedar Riverside is a global crossroads and our Pan African neighbors are underserved by the entertainment industry, often presenting inaccurate or slanted portrayals. This 55454 Series about Africans and Muslims in America hopes to make a dent in those perceptions and cement Mixed Blood's role as an anchor, not an island, in its zip code. Funny and charming, MUSA AND SHERI reveals the complexity of leaving someone and someplace behind while being drawn to the promises of new worlds. Mixed Blood has always been about people with differences being better off for having connected and that is what happens to Musa and Sheri, despite the scary, mysterious, unknown consequences of their togetherness. This is a daily occurrence outside our doors on the West Bank.
Playwright Yussef El Guindi: "PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD" came about as most of my plays do- insistent voices in my head that won't shut up. In this case, a woman's voice climbing the stairs, complaining about being out of breath, and a man welcoming her to his run-down apartment. Why this particular snippet of dialogue should trigger a play, and much more dramatic scenarios that occur to me do not, I'm not sure. In this case, I felt an instant pathos for these two people. I wanted to know who they were, what they wanted, and what they were doing together. I think the heart of the play lies in that deep, and instant, empathetic connection I had with these characters, and those that followed. It mirrors these characters own search for an intimate connection with strangers. All of them immigrants of one sort or another who have to start over; who have to recreate their own sense of what home means in this new land. I'm very glad I didn't silence these particular voices. I'm happy I found them a home in this play."
Director Mark Valdez: "I have been a big fan of Yussef's work for years, and I am thrilled that I finally get to direct one of his plays. In his plays, especially this one, you meet these characters that are just so familiar. Yussef writes in such a way that you see yourself in them. And this particular production is part of the 55454 Series intended to serve and build audiences in Cedar-Riverside. I can't imagine a better play for Mixed Blood to produce, nor one that I'd rather work on."
The Pan African-born cast includes Mohamad Yabdri (Algeria) as Musa, Antu Yacob (Ethiopia), and Ansa Akyea (Ghana), as well as Minnesota native Gretta Grosch as Sheri. The creative team includes Theresa Akers (scenic), Cana Potter (costumes), Paul Epton (lights), and C. Andrew Mayer (sound).
The 55454 SERIES is a curated series of four plays about, for, and with Africans and Muslims in America. Each production runs one weekend only. The subsequent shows in the 55454 SERIES are AFRICAN AMERICA by Warren C. Bowles, running February 7-9, 2015 in which an African American woman investigating her Afrocentrism via the African diaspora in the U.S., dilutes all perceptions of a monolithic African culture; HIJAB TUBE by Seema Sueko, running April 25-27, 2015, a play about Islam in America through the lens of a young American Muslim woman deciding whether or not to wear hijab; and YOUNG NEGRESS STEPPING OUT OF THE RIVER AT DAWN by Dean Poynor, running May 16-18, a world premiere about Rwandans living in America, struggling to survive the violent atrocities of their past, while planning a marriage and life in a new world.
PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD
By Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Mark Valdez
RUNS January 17 - 19, 2015
All Performances in Mixed Blood Theatre's Alan Page Auditorium
1501 S. 4th St., Minneapolis, MN 55454
Tickets: $0-First come, first served; $20-guaranteed admission