Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Adam Nadel
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    April 29, 2015
    Closing:
    May 9, 2015

    Theater: LaGuardia Performing Arts Center / 31-10 Thomson Ave. Long Island City, NY 11101

    Synopsis: 

    "Beyond Sacred" is an interview-based theatre production by Ping Chong + Company and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploring the diverse experiences of Muslim communities within New York City. The five participants in "Beyond Sacred" vary in many ways, but share the common experience of coming of age in a post-9/11 New York City, at a time of increasing Islamophobia. Participants come from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and include men and women that reflect a wide range of Muslim identities, including those who have converted to Islam, those who were raised Muslim, but have since left the faith, those who identify as “culturally” Muslim, and those who are observant on a daily basis. Beyond Sacred was developed through a community-engaged process wherein Ping Chong + Company extensively interviewed local Muslim residents. These interviews become the basis of a script, performed by the interviewees, that weaves together personal, historical, and political narratives. The goal of "Beyond Sacred" is to use theater and personal testimony to foster greater understanding among Muslim and non-Muslim communities in New York.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity

    ‘Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity,’ Young New Yorkers Tell Their Stories

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    May 3, 2015: Ferdous Dehqan’s earliest memory is drenched with fear. He is 4 years old in Kabul, Afghanistan, clutching his mother’s hand as they cross the street, approaching a Taliban station. “What if they stop us?” he asks, speaking aloud his little-boy thoughts. “What if they hit my mother?” This may be the first moment that tears at the heart in “Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity,” Ping Chong + Company’s probing and persuasive new work of interview-based theater, but it is not the last. Mr. Dehqan, who turned 19 last week, is one of five young New Yorkers who tell their stories at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. Seated at music stands, they are a chorus of voices gently demolishing the notion of Muslim culture as monolithic. Amir Khafagy, 24, grew up in Queens, the son of a Puerto Rican mother and an Egyptian father. With a sweetly goofy charm, he calls himself an “Arab-Rican.” Maha Syed, 29, is a high-octane high achiever, a Kuwaiti-born human rights advocate who names her culture, her religion and her feminism as the strongest influences in her life. Tiffany Yasmin Abdelghani, 26, is a Long Island native and recent convert whose family is a Muslim-Christian mix. She once dressed like a goth punk. Having learned from YouTube how to tie one, she now wears a hijab.

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