October 2015. Not quite knowing what to expect, I walked into a brightly lit room where Bay Area Drama Company was hosting its production kickoff meeting for the play Dance Like A Man. It drew me in. I stayed. I thoroughly enjoyed set building and being Girl Friday on the sets of Dance. Fast forward five months, I find myself co-producing The Domestic Crusaders, our upcoming play. Now I am fully immersed in the production of Crusaders like I had never imagined I would be. Every day, I draw inspiration from the abundant creative talent I am surrounded by, and I’m savoring the learning experience.
In this brief time, I have learned that choosing between plays you have worked on is like choosing between your children. You know the foibles of each like no one else does – you even nurture them, but you don’t have a favorite. They are special in their own ways. Even so, The Domestic Crusaders will always own a piece of my heart.
This play tugs at the heartstrings of every immigrant to the United States. Each generation will recognize itself in these characters. Be it the protagonists of the play – Pakistani immigrants Khulsoom and Salman – and their depiction of the ‘reset’ our lives and careers experience when we first move here, or the quest for identity in the next generation, the torment of which is poignantly and variedly captured by the Wall Street dog-eat-dog mentality of their oldest son, Salahuddin, the fierce activism of their firebrand daughter Fatima or the soul-searching theology of their introspective youngest child, Ghafur. Even members of an older generation who watch their loved ones find their feet and build their lives in a far away land will see themselves in this story. As an immigrant myself, over the course of this play, I find I’m reliving some of the trials and tribulations I encountered on the journey to making this country my own.
This year, the question of tolerance, or for that matter, the lack thereof, is a topic of much debate – at the water cooler, the dining table and the world stage. This makes it an opportune time to stage a story about a Pakistani-American family. To depict the almost mundane normalcy of lives that can be so abruptly thrown into turmoil or cast asunder because of events and circumstances beyond anyone’s control.
A stellar cast, keen direction, a script that raises important questions, and characters we can all identify with – this play will resonate with every one of us. Whether you’re drawn to watch it for the sheer splendor of the production that is now a signature of this drama company, or for a story that may well be a reflection of your own, I doubt you will leave unmoved.