NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is hoping to spark open dialogue about Muslim assimilation and identity in America with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Disgraced,” which opens Thursday.
According to a press release from NextStop, several recent incidents have made this an issue of great relevance locally:
Not only did a viral video of an anti-Islam encounter in a Reston grocery store recently sweep the internet, with more than 3 million viewers watching the shocking incident, but the family of a recently murdered [Reston] teen believes their daughter was targeted because of her religion. Additionally, incidents of vandalism have also shaken residents recently, with the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center being targeted and graffiti found on a highway wall of Baron Cameron Drive near Fairfax County Parkway espousing hate messages.
In the play, “Amir” (portrayed by Jesse Bhamrah) is a Pakistani-American who has hidden his Muslim background as he finds success as a Manhattan corporate lawyer. He struggles with his identity and America’s complex attitudes about Muslims and Islam throughout the play.
“This is an opportunity to have conversations with people about identity and open up and explore who you are,” said Thembi Duncan, the play’s director, in the release. “That doesn’t necessarily sound pretty in marketing language, but you’re learning more about yourself by seeing these other people … and the only way that we move forward as a society is by making human connections across lines of difference.”
In addition to Bhamrah, the cast includes other professional actors from the DC area including Nahm Darr, Jordan Friend, Chaela Phillips and Jenna Rossman. The production team includes Jack Golden, set designer; Kristina Martin, costume designer; Jonathan Alexander, lighting designer; Kevin Alexander, sound designer; Keta Newborn, stage manager; Jessica Dubish, assistant director; Cheyanne Christopher, assistant stage manager; Marilyn Lopes, costume design apprentice; Jonathan Abolins, master electrician; and Kristin Pilgrim, fight choreographer.
Performances will be each Thursday through Sunday, through Oct. 1, with general admission tickets ranging from $17.50 to $55. The show contains adult language and situations that may not be appropriate for all audiences.