Wednesday March 2, 2016

White Box Theatre Festival: Hijabi Monologues

White Box Theatre Festival presents Hijabi Monologues University of Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. at ArtStreet’s White Box Gallery. The performances are a collaborative effort among ArtStreet, the Theatre Program and Studio Theatre, with additional support from the Center for International Programs and Women’s Center.

The process of Hijabi Monologues University of Dayton has brought together a diverse group of students ranging from high school to a law school student, who perform 11 monologues from a story bank. The context of Hijabi Monologues comes from an international theatre project that encourages schools to perform not only selected stories from their resources, but to also produce new stories. The purpose of Hijabi Monologues is to engage listeners in a deeper dialogue of Muslim women’s perspectives by giving the women a personal voice. The Monologues are samplings of stories from Muslim women who seek to end the minority differences in North America that perpetuate the stereotypes, public scrutiny, discrimination and violence they encounter.

The term “hijabi” itself is not a proper Arabic word, but rather refers to the Muslim women that wear a headscarf. Each woman in the Monologues wears the hijab headscarf, but their stories vary from poignant to humorous that all speak to us to create a better understanding of our lives. The space is for these women to provide them with a space to breathe as they are; a space that does not claim to tell every story and speak for every voice.

The conversation for producing Hijabi Monologues on this campus began with a workshop with Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah, co-founder of the project. The diverse student team of directors and cast members then collaborated to select the Monologues they wished to perform. Cast members include: Amal Alrasheed, Rachel Craighead, Rabiah Gul, Tessa Hill, Kaleigh Jurcisek, Kara Mancinotti, Emily Rockwell, Leena Sabagh, V Scott and Megan Woolf. The student directors for the Monologues are: Alec Brown, Vicki Jablonski, Colleen Peregrin, Adam Schwartz, Annie Scott and Norb Wessels.

Norb Wessels, director for the introductory monologue, explains the importance of bringing the Monologues to the University of Dayton’s campus as a “clear message that the University strives to celebrate all of its students.” When asked about his own personal experience from directing, Wessels pointed out that his own perception of Muslim women has changed from inaccessible to accessible and made him see things that he had been avoiding to look at.

The White Box Theatre Festival started unofficially in 2013, with the production of Warriors in the context of ArtStreet’s BULLET exhibition. In November of 2014, the festival officially launched with 12 original plays that were performed within the ArtStreet White Box Gallery IMPACT exhibition. Both the plays and the exhibition were inspired by the books featured in University Libraries’ landmark exhibit, IMPRINTS AND IMPRESSIONS: Milestones in Human Progress. The intention of the festival is to inspire and foster alternative theatrical performance through the process of nurturing original scripts.

Adrienne Ausdenmoore, associate director of ArtStreet and the Institute for Arts Nexus, stated the importance of performing the Monologues in its unique context. “Producing theatre within a gallery installation, in which the audience will move through the space with the actors, is a unique trademark of the White Box Theatre Festival. The theme of Hijabi Monologues, which focuses on the sharing of stories, parallels the theme of our REFLECTION installation, showcasing University of Dayton students’ perspectives through photography,” said Ausdenmoore.

Performances are free but admission is limited. Due to the use of strong language, discretion is advised. A post-show discussion will follow each performance.

Produced by ArtStreet, the Theatre Program and Studio Theatre, in collaboration with the Center for International Programs and Women’s Center. Hijabi Monologues University of Dayton is a licensed production of The Hijabi Monologues. For more information about The Hijabi Monologues, visit hijabimonologues.com or follow on Twitter @HijabiMonologue.

ArtStreet is located at the intersection of Lawnview Avenue and Kiefaber Street on the University of Dayton campus. ArtStreet is open from 8am to midnight Monday through Friday and noon to midnight Saturdays and Sundays. For more information about ArtStreet events, call 937-229-5101 or visit udayton.edu/artstreet.

Press release written by Kiersten Remster '17. 

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