A Virtual Reading of Mosque4Mosque – In Development at Steppenwolf Theatre

mosque4mosque, A Virtual Reading
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A Deeply Moving and Relatable Story about a “Normal” Muslim American Family

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s new play development initiative, SCOUT is pleased to present A Virtual Reading of Mosque4Mosque by Omer Abbas Salem on Sunday, March 28th at 2pm CST. The free reading follows a 30-hour workshop process directed by Arti Ishak. Two works have previously been developed with SCOUT: the first was La Ruta by Isaac Gómez, which went on to receive its world premiere in 2019 directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez, and the second was Bald Sisters by Vichet Chum, which was subsequently slated for Steppenwolf’s 2020/2021 season and has been delayed for a future production. Steppenwolf is thrilled to have the opportunity to develop Mosque4Mosque as the third project in this process.

RSVPs required; to secure free tickets, contact Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or fill out the RSVP form on Steppenwolf’s website here.

Ibrahim is the average 30-something Queer Arab American Muslim. Normal job, quiet life, easy men. Between dodging reminders of how unmarried he is from his relentlessly caring immigrant mother and helping raise his smart, popular, hijabi cheerleading sister, Ibrahim has always found comfort sinking into the background. But when his mother sees a glimpse of what could be his first real relationship, she feels compelled to take Ibrahim’s future into her own hands by seeking out the perfect man for him to marry. Mosque4Mosque is a comedy about a normal Muslim American family that asks us to wrestle with what we believe normal to be.

“I wrote Mosque4Mosque to reimagine my experience with family, religion, and being queer. I also wanted to create a world in which Arab artists felt proud to exist, because I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt ashamed by what passes for our representation. I can’t thank Steppenwolf enough for the support and opportunity to uplift our voices and begin correcting a wrong in American theater,” shares Omer Abbas Salem.

The cast features Antoine Yared (Ibrahim); Rula Gardenier (Sara); Rom Barkhordar (Karim/Lawyer); Sahar Dika (Lena); Mark Junek (James); and Tommy Malouf (Stage Directions/Suitor). 

RSVPs are required. To reserve your free tickets, contact Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or fill out the RSVP form on Steppenwolf’s website here

Polly Hubbard, Steppenwolf’s Director of New Play Development generously answered a few questions about this new production.

What was the inspiration for forming SCOUT? 

We love to develop great plays and widen our circle in the process. We formed SCOUT to have an access point for writers who are new to Steppenwolf to have the opportunity to work with one or more ensemble members and a professional team of artists.  

How does SCOUT enhance the work the Steppenwolf does?

SCOUT has become an incredible asset to our new play development work and I’m fortunate that it has also become a pipeline for season planning and continued relationships with some wonderful writers.  In SCOUT’s short history, we have developed LA RUTA by Isaac Gómez, which went on to have its World Premiere in our 18/19 season.  Isaac has returned since then with his stage adaptation of Erika L. Sanchez’s novel I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER (also adapted for audio, coming out later this spring), and we presented his play WALLY WORLD as an audio play as part of our virtual season, Steppenwolf NOW.  Our second SCOUT project was BALD SISTERS by Vichet Chum, which was previously scheduled for the 20/21 season but has been postponed for a future production due to Covid; I am confident that Vichet is a writer we will continue to work with in the future. It has been wonderful to invite artists and their communities to join us in the exploration of new work as we grow the American canon. 

The free reading follows a 30-hour workshop process. What does the workshop process entail?

Generally speaking our workshops are intense and result in many changes throughout. Each rehearsal is an opportunity for the writer to make adjustments and hear changes right away and, if you’re lucky, you get a group of smart actors with great questions and a director who has a strong hand in guiding the process along.  Omer Abbas Salem, our playwright on MOSQUE4MOSQUE, and his director Arti Ishak have a dynamo cast and they have done extraordinary work during this process.  We encourage our artists not to think about the reading as a final destination, but rather as a stop along the way.  One thing I love about an in-process reading is for an audience to experience a piece before it has all the bells and whistles.  For me there’s something inherently theatrical and exciting about hearing the stripped down, strictly literary version and I find that writers often learn what their next steps need to be from the experience of hearing it this way.   

What is the easiest way for our Splash Magazine Worldwide readers to obtain tickets to see what promises to be a moving and humorous production?

The reading of Mosque4Mosque is free and open to the public on Sunday, March 28th at 2pm CDT. To RSVP, simply fill out this Wufoo form on Steppenwolf’s website  or you can call the Steppenwolf box office to confirm you RSVP, 312-335-1650. Thank you for joining us!

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