Tonika Todorova is an adventure architect and a passionate lover of the shared human experience.
(left to right) Rom Barkhodar and Mark Ulrich in Silk Road Rising’s MOSQUE ALERT. Photo: Airan Wright
There is an unquestionable urgency to sharing stories like Mosque Alert with the world. In an era of a disUnited States of America, with fear on the rise and our civic rights ignored and violated, the “peace” part of as-salaam alaikum isn’t quite being heard. As a pendulum arm swings from “the blacks”, to “the gays”, to “the immigrants” or any group’s daily label as “the other”, it seems there is one arm permanently fixed upon “the Muslims”. The production’s timing is undeniably pertinent and if the execution can gain some unapologetic confidence in its message, it can hopefully start opening some closed minds.
In a post 9/11 world, Naperville reacts to a Mosque being built in the heart of their community. Responses vary from passionate advocates of the Islamic faith (a standout performance by Amy J. Carle) to artful fear-mongers (a solid performance by Steve Silver); igniting key ingredients such as the intersection of Islam and homophobia (an issue brought up, but left unsatisfyingly explored) and the self-aware hypocrisy that exists within any group of people. Yet, it all feels a bit safe. A well enacted civil history lesson, while our present is shouting loudly its discontent at the current state of affairs and the future offers nothing but deafening silence.
[The thing is, if I can switch to first person vernacular for a second, I really want to root for this play because I believe in its message. I want not only tolerance, but a welcome banner for all humanity. And every angry white tweet and every unimaginable ISIS attack and every out of touch politician looking for a scapegoat or a buck and every compassionate-but-feels-too-small-to-change-the-world person is adding to the noise and all this buzzing cacophony is drowning out all the importance. So I want these characters to KNOW the stakes are high, and to know that to make people LISTEN, you have to get their ATTENTION first. Be as passionate about this as your fellow activists, so armed with tools of your art and our empathy, we can actually start changing the world.]
Cherry Steinwender from The Center for the Healing of Racism in Houston, TX, when speaking about acceptance, says that “Hurt people hurt people.” This sentiment is present in this production as characters struggle with their own pain and fail to convincingly persuade others to see their point of view. Playwright Jamil Khoury creates some interesting relationships in this original new play, all of which have the potential to unearth productive conversation and much-needed healing. They are the real vessel for the message. If they can find their pitch and nuance while standing in their spotlight, their words can passionately resonate within our hearts.
Sometimes, you have to shout louder so Wa-Alaikum-Salaam can echo back at you.
[add_single_eventon id=”403″ ev_uxval=”3″ ]