The director, Ann Filmer, appeared on stage to announce the opening would be a little late. She invited Muslims who wanted to go to Sunset Services into another room to say their prayers. Several audience members left, joining many other Muslims already in the prayer room, and the play in this intimate theater began several minutes after evening prayers were over.
I totally was mesmerized by Unveiled because it revealed a rare and intimate glimpse of bigotry and social intolerance in the lives of five Muslim women of different ages and backgrounds and their experiences after 9/11. They all revealed their personal mini-stories as they served various exotic teas while they talked, screamed and cried.
Written and performed by Chicago-based playwright, actress and solo artist Rohina Malik, this heart-wrenching theatrical event portrayed the racist events five different women around the world experienced wearing their religious head veils - the hijabs. As a Jewish woman I could definitely identify anti-semitism with their terrible anti-Muslim attacks which took heavy tolls emotionally and physically.
Rohina faced racism on a daily basis in London, England where she was born and raised until the age of 15, when she moved to Chicago. She said that after the anti-Muslim backlash after September 11, "It felt like everybody in my community had a story - their stories would range from silly to bone chilling."
"Women in veils were spat at, Hindus were sworn at, and Sikh and Muslim men were murdered," she continued. Unveiled is Rohina's attempt to tell several stories that she felt were not being told or were completely misunderstood.
In front of the simply adorned stage, eight long colorful drapes waving behind her, Malik becomes five unique westernized Muslim women wearing five different veils. She portrays a Muslim English hip-hopper; a suburban Chicagoland housewife who moves to Devon Street to live with people like herself; an English dressmaker who no longer designs wedding dresses; and a young woman who finds love outside the arranged marriages common to her culture.
Unveiled is presented by Victory Gardens Fresh Squeezed in association with 16th Street Theater's Words in Motion. The performances, Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 pm, are at Victory Gardens Theater at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago through April 4th.
Victory Gardens Theater is home to many bold voices of world premiere theater. Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theaters. In 2001, Victory Gardens Theater received the Tony Award for regional Theater.
16th Street Theater was named Chicago's Best Emerging Theater in the Chicago Reader in 2009. It is under the umbrella of the Berwyn Cultural Center, a part of the North Berwyn Park District. This is 16th Street Theater's first time presenting a show outside their 49-seat venue in Berwyn.
For tickets and information call 773-871-3000 or visit www.victorygardens.org