New Drama Seeks to Include Muslim Americans in the National Debate on September 11

Three generations of The Domestic Crusaders gather to celebrate the youngest child’s 21st birthday

This fully staged showcase production of The Domestic Crusaders is directed by author and theater scholar Carla Blank, and produced by the MacArthur “Genius” Grant Recipient and internationally prominent author, Ishmael Reed.
Performed by members of the Bay Area’s South Asian community, it offers the public an extraordinary look into the everyday lives of a Muslim South Asian American family dealing with the impact of 9/11 on their family and community.
“The point of presenting The Domestic Crusaders on September 11 is to include Muslim Americans in our national day of mourning,” said the producer, Mr. Reed. “They have suffered along with everyone else, and in unique ways.”
The play chronicles cultural, political, and religious conflicts of a fictional Muslim South Asian American family living in post 9/11 America.
Said the director, Ms. Blank, “It is an authentic, revealing, no-holds barred depiction of one day in the life of one family, composed of six unique members, who convene at the family home for a birthday celebration. With a background of 9/11 and the scapegoating of Muslim Americans, the humor, tensions and sparks fly among the three generations. The day culminates in an intense family battle as the ‘crusaders’ struggle to assert and impose their respective voices and opinions while still trying to maintain and understand that unifying thread that makes them part of the same family, and citizens of the United States of America.”
Ms Blank continued, “As an alternative to the cardboard stereotypes regularly offered in today’s world of marginalizing people, the Patriot Act, and the belief that if you look different then you might be a threat, The Domestic Crusaders is intended to enlighten the public on issues of multiculturalism, racism, and the need for tolerance in a changing world.”
“The interest generated by September 11 gives us an opportunity to engage in dialogue and to understand each other. That’s why we felt it was important to make sure this play was available to our students and the general public.” said Hyon Chu Yi, Director of the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center at San Jose State, an agency of the university created to foster multi-cultural understanding. “We have significant Muslim American, South Asian American and Jewish populations at SJSU, and part of our educational mission is helping them gain sympathy for each other’s points of view. We’re proud that we’re probably the most diverse university campus in America, and that young people today are really interested in being accepting of all different kinds of people.”
The Domestic Crusaders was received with great acclaim in its 2004 staged readings at Oakland’s prestigious Art & Soul Festival, the Mehran Theater Restaurant in Newark, the Main Branch Auditorium of the Oakland Public Library, and the 2005 production recently presented at the Thrust Theatre of Berkeley Repertory Theatre.


Wajahat Ali

“Wajahat Ali is a major new voice in American literature. His play is to Muslim American theatre what A Raisin in the Sun is to African American theatre,” said Mitch Berman, head of the Center for Literary Arts, which is co-hosting the event on the San Jose State campus. “Our mission at CLA is not only to bring literary stars to San Jose, but to bring attention to emerging writers who have something new to say.”
The author, Mr. Ali, says, “9/11 is an important time to perform this particular piece due to the global, international memory of a tragic event which has drastically altered the face of the world. It allows us, as a global community, to face the repercussions of that fateful day head on, confronting our fears, doubts, apprehensions, attitudes, and feelings in an honest, blunt, open manner which doesn’t pander to hypocrisy, political ideologies, or rampant hysteria. The play gives us a means to understand the multicultural fabric of the American experience from the viewpoint of Americans who aren’t usually seen as ‘your average American’ but live, breathe, sweat, suffer, hope just as much as any other American.”
Tickets can be ordered online through Ticketmaster, or purchased at the door. The University Theatre is located on San Fernando Street at 5th in downtown San Jose, right next to the new library. Parking is free on weekends in the new city parking structure at the corner of 4th and San Fernando. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students. For further information, call MOSAIC director Hyon Chu Yi at (408) 924-6245. Or visit the play’s website: http://www.domesticcrusaders.com.
Who: Presented by the San Jose State University MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, the Center for Literary Arts, the Before Columbus Foundation, the SJSU Department of TV, Radio, Film and Theatre, and the Arts Council Silicon Valley.
What: The Domestic Crusaders, a full length play by Wajahat Ali
When: Saturday, September 10 at 8 P.M. and Sunday, September 11 at 2P.M.
Where: The University Theatre on the campus of San Jose State University, 5th and San Fernando Streets in downtown San Jose, next to the new library.

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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