Mosque Alert / by R. Sheth

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and cast, access dramaturgical information, and buy tickets visit www.mosquealert.org.

 

The information below is an archive of the new play development process used to create Mosque Alert.


Mosque Alert tells the story of two suburban American families living in Naperville, IL—one Christian, the other Muslim—who find their lives torn apart by a proposal to build a new mosque in their community.

Silk Road Rising and playwright Jamil Khoury invite you to join us on a unique journey, a first in new play development history. We want you to become co-creators of Jamil’s new play, Mosque Alert. Through your active participation we hope that you that will influence and assist Jamil as he develops a new play that will be both a work of art and a tool for civic engagement.  Click HERE to download a program brochure.

Meet Mosque Alert (20 min, 58 sec)  is a compilation of content created in Steps 1 through 4 of Jamil Khoury's 9-Step new play development and civic engagement process.  

“Rendering an issue in a work of art provides a frame so it can be seen from the perspective of someone deeply affected by it. Misunderstanding or the lack of understanding of an issue is often the result of the fact that outsiders cannot see things the way those directly impacted do. The artistic frame can highlight an issue in ways that make it memorable, raising awareness and understanding; it also provides emotional distance that can provide the possibility of more reasoned dialogue than is sometimes the case when difficult issues are being addressed.” - Doug Borwick, author of Building Communities, Not Audiences

Jamil has devised a nine-step, online, interactive, new play development and civic engagement process. By turning what is typically a solitary writing project into lively virtual engagement, Jamil hopes to stimulate dialogue within and between faith communities, immigrant and non-immigrant communities, and across the political spectrum.

Each step includes a comment section. This section allows you to respond to Jamil’s questions, pose your own questions or share with Jamil any thoughts you believe will enrich and inform the play. Here is your chance to co-create with a playwright, to make a lasting imprint on a work of art!

Silk Road Rising’s hope is that this nine step process inspires engagement that will assist Jamil in writing Mosque Alert. Conversely, our hope is to facilitate local and national civic conversations about the rights of Muslim Americans to build houses of worship.

Step 1: The Spark

Watch Jamil as he discusses his inspirations and rationale for wanting to write Mosque Alert.

Step 2: The Prologue

Watch Jamil as he introduces the six characters he created for Mosque Alert and explores the relationships between characters.

Step 3: Characters

In collaboration with Jamil, the six actors playing the six characters each created four dramatized video blogs (vlogs). The vlogs are titled respectively:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Each character’s four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference.

Step 4: Conflict Scenes

Jamil is writing nine conflict scenes, each videotaped as a two character video blog. The conflict scenes are designed to explore tensions and conflicts between different pairings of characters in Mosque Alert. They are not scenes that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather they will inform the world of the play and create context (and perhaps language) that Jamil will cull from when writing the play. Ideally, each conflict scene will also exist as a standalone work of art.

Step 5: Write the Play

Upon completing the nine conflict scenes, Jamil will begin the process of outlining and then writing a first draft of Mosque Alert. The draft will be workshopped with the actors, a director, and a dramaturg. Portions of the workshop will be videotaped and released online. Based on learnings and discoveries made in the workshop, as well as feedback from both the artists and the online audience, Jamil will begin revising the draft .

Step 6: Staged Readings

Once Jamil has the script for Mosque Alert at a place where he is happy, Silk Road Rising will produce a series of public staged readings, hopefully in different venues throughout Chicagoland. Each staged reading will be followed by a talk back session in which live audiences will be encouraged to reflect upon and discuss the piece. Portions of the staged readings and talk back sessions will be videotaped and released online for comment.

Step 7: The Stage Play

Based on what Jamil learns from the staged readings, he will write a final draft of Mosque Alert, which Silk Road Rising will produce in our theatre for a five week run. During that time, we will schedule panel discussions and post-show talk backs to facilitate public conversations around the issues addressed in the play. After the initial run, our plan is to present the play to a venue in Naperville, IL.

Step 8: The Video Play/Documentary

The artistic process will culminate with a full length hybrid video play/documentary film. Jamil will adapt his stage play for video (with revisions). The documentary component will include interviews with residents of Naperville, Illinois, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and footage of a town hall meeting that Silk Road Rising will facilitate.

Step 9: Write Your Review

After viewing Mosque Alert video, either online or at a public screening, we invite you to share your thoughts with us, ideally in the form of an online review. We encourage you to critique Mosque Alert from any number of angles (and combinations thereof): artistic, pedagogical, civic, political, etc. We also welcome your reflections on the merits of the entire nine step journey.

Imam Mustafa Khan

Imam Mustafa Khan (played by Khurram Mozaffar) – the charismatic, Pakistani born spiritual leader of a fictitious Muslim congregation in Naperville, Illinois that is seeking to build a larger mosque.  Four video blogs have been created featuring the character Imam Mustafa Khan. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Imam Mustafa Khan’s four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference.  The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1.  How is the character of Imam Mustafa Khan interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to him?

2.  What are you hoping to learn from Imam Mustafa Khan?

3.  How would you like to see Imam Mustafa Khan change or be transformed?

4.  Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Imam Mustafa Khan?

Charles Baker

Charles Baker (played by Don Bender) – the self-declared “patriarch” of the Baker family and a Republican candidate for Mayor of Naperville.  Four video blogs have been reated featuring the character Charles Baker. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Charles Bakers’s four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference. The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

 

 

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1.  How is the character of Charles Baker interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to him?

2.  What are you hoping to learn from Charles Baker?

3. How would you like to see Charles Baker change or be transformed?

4. Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Charles Baker?

Ayesha Khan

Ayesha Khan (played by Fawzia Mirza) – the Pakistani born wife of Imam Mustafa Khan and head pharmacist at a Naperville drugstore.  Four video blogs have been created featuring the character Ayesha Khan. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Ayesha Khan’s four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference. The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

 

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How is the character of Ayesha Khan interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to her?

2. What are you hoping to learn from Ayesha Khan?

3. How would you like to see Ayesha Khan change or be transformed?

4. Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Ayesha Khan?

Emily Baker

Emily Baker (played by Justine Serino) – the wife of Charles Baker and a fast rising public relations professional whose chief client is the City of Naperville.  Four video blogs have been created featuring the character Emily Baker. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Emily Baker’s four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference. The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

 

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How is the character of Emily Baker interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to her?
2. What are you hoping to learn from Emily Baker?
3. How would you like to see Emily Baker change or be transformed?
4. Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Emily Baker?

Carl Baker

Carl Baker (played by Nicholas Cimino) – the 26 year old gay son of Charles and Emily Baker currently interning at the Chicago office of the American Civil Liberties Union.  Four video blogs have been created featuring the character Carl Baker. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Carl Baker's four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference. The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

 

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How is the character of Carl Baker interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to him?
2. What are you hoping to learn from Carl Baker?
3. How would you like to see Carl Baker change or be transformed?
4. Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Carl Baker?

Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker (played by Melissa Kong) – the 21 year old adopted Chinese daughter of Charles and Emily Baker who recently returned from her junior year abroad in Paris, France.  Four video blogs have been created featuring the character Jennifer Baker. The vlogs include:

1. Bio
2. On Being an American
3. Family Drama
4. Mosque Politics

Jennifer Baker's four vlogs have also been assembled as one master vlog per your viewing preference. The master vlog is located at the bottom of this page.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

 

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How is the character of Jennifer Baker interesting and compelling to you? Are you able to relate to her?
2. What are you hoping to learn from Jennifer Baker?
3. How would you like to see Jennifer Baker change or be transformed?
4. Do you have any particular questions or suggestions for Jennifer Baker?

Barack Hussein Obama

(13 min, 7 sec)

“Barack Hussein Obama” is a dramatized intra-Muslim reflection on America’s 44th President featuring the characters Imam Mustafa Khan (played by Khurram Mozaffar) and his wife Ayesha Khan (played by Fawzia Mirza). The Khans are both Obama supporters, but Ayesha has grown rather critical of Obama’s leadership style, whereas Imam Mustafa defends Obama’s leadership. The perceived performance of President Obama thus becomes subtext for their marital tensions.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Barack Hussein Obama" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “Barack Hussein Obama” deepen your understanding of the characters Imam Mustafa Khan and Ayesha Khan? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ perceived perceptions of President Obama’s leadership style a helpful mechanism for illuminating the tensions between Imam Mustafa and Ayesha over the mosque controversy?

3. Should content from “Barack Hussein Obama” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content should that be?

Stay at Home Mom

(11 min, 12 sec)

"Stay at Home Mom" explores tensions long thought resolved, yet raging beneath the surface, over the roles of mothers and wives in American society. The unabashedly masculinist Charles Baker (played by Don Bender) and his born-again feminist wife, Emily Baker (played by Justine Serino) revisit the classic battle-of-the-sexes against the backdrop of sweeping social change.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Stay at Home Mom" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “Stay at Home Mom” deepen your understanding of the characters Emily Baker and Charles Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ perceived perceptions of mothers and wives a helpful mechanism for illuminating the tensions between Emily Baker and Charles Baker?

3. Should content from “Stay at Home Mom” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content should that be?

Virginity Redux

(10 min, 53 sec)

"Virginity Redux" tells the story of Jennifer Baker (played by Melissa Kong) and her first love gone sour. Jennifer loses her virginity to Kareem, a dashing young French Algerian Muslim man she falls in love with in Paris, only to later be rejected by Kareem for not being a virgin. As Jennifer’s hurt morphs into anti-Muslim rage, her brother Carl Baker (played by Nicholas Cimino) attempts to stage an intervention and bring back the “real” Jen.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Virginity Redux" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “Virginity Redux” deepen your understanding of the characters Jen Baker and Carl Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ perceived perceptions of dating, intercultural relationships, and conflicting cultural values (particularly as regards "virginity") a helpful mechanism for illuminating the tensions between Jen Baker and her opposition to building a Mosque in Naperville?

3. Should content from “Virginity Redux” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

Headscarf Pharmacist

(7 min, 52 sec)

“Headscarf Pharmacist” tears the veil off headscarves, motherhood, and polite liberalism in a lively one-on-one between the wives of the men at the nexus of Naperville’s mosque controversy. Ayesha Khan (played by Fawzia Mirza) confronts Emily Baker (played by Justine Serino) after Emily’s daughter, Jennifer, mockingly refers to Head Pharmacist Ayesha as the “headscarf pharmacist.”

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Headscarf Pharmacist" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “Headscarf Pharmacist” deepen your understanding of the characters Ayesha Khan and Emily Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ differing reactions to the "headscarf pharmacist" comment useful in terms of imagining a future relationship between Emily Baker and Ayesha Khan?

3. Should content from “Headscarf Pharmacist” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

The Muslims Are Coming! The Muslims Are Coming!

(14 min, 33 sec)

“The Muslims are Coming! The Muslims are Coming!” pits Naperville, IL mayoral candidate Charles Baker (played by Don Bender) against Imam Mustafa Khan (played by Khurram Mozaffar), spiritual leader of a Naperville mosque. Baker and Khan duel over a perceived “Islamic threat” to Western civilization, leaving the U.S. Constitution hanging in the balance.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "The Muslims Are Coming! The Muslims Are Coming!" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “The Muslims Are Coming! The Muslims Are Coming!” deepen your understanding of the characters Charles Baker and Imam Mustafa Khan? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ differing reactions to the "Islamic threat" and America's demographic changes useful in terms of imagining a future relationship between Charles Baker and Imam Mustafa Khan?

3. Should content from “The Muslims Are Coming!” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

Ambition Impossible!

(8 min, 31 sec)

“Ambition Impossible” depicts concerned mom, Emily Baker (played by Justine Serino), and her dismayed daughter, Jennifer Baker (played by Melissa Kong), who find themselves at a crossroads over Jennifer’s plans to become a high school French teacher. What Emily sees as lacking in ambition, Jennifer sees as pursuing her life’s dream.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Ambition Impossible!" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “Ambition Impossible!” deepen your understanding of the characters Emily Baker and Jennifer Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ differing reactions to the concept of success and ambition useful in terms of imagining the relationship between mother Emily and daughter Jennifer?

3. Should content from “Ambition Impossible!” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

Like Father Like Son

(13 min, 12 sec)

"Like Father Like Son" scours for common ground between a conservative Republican father and his liberal gay son. Former “chip off the old block” Carl Baker (played by Nicholas Cimino) goes toe-to-toe with his father, Charles Baker (played by Don Bender). Charles struggles to accept Carl’s homosexuality and, to an even greater extent, his political liberalism.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "Like Father Like Son" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does Like Father Like Son deepen your understanding of the characters Carl Baker and Charles Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How is Carl Baker's transformation from a perceived "straight" conservative Republican to a liberal gay Democrat useful in terms of imagining a future relationship between him and his father?

3. Should content from Like Father Like Son end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

To Veil or Not to Veil

(10 min, 46 sec)

"To Veil or Not to Veil" positions the hijab-wearing Ayesha Khan (played by Fawzia Mirza) against anti-veil crusader Jennifer Baker (played by Melissa Kong) in a lively rumination on what the Muslim hijab (headscarf) represents. Does wearing the veil constitute feminism or oppression? As meanings and symbols get tossed about, a healthy dose of irreverence gets thrown in the mix.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "To Veil or Not to Veil" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “To Veil or Not To Veil” deepen your understanding of the characters Ayesha Khan and Jennifer Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ differing views on veiling, feminism, and the practice of Islam useful in terms of further developing the relationship between Ayesha and Jennifer? Is a "healthy" relationship between the characters even possible?

3. Should content from “To Veil or Not To Veil” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?

The Imam & The Homosexual

(15 min, 50 sec)

“The Imam and The Homosexual” probes the “strange bedfellows” political alliance between Imam Mustafa Khan (played by Khurram Mozaffar), spiritual leader of a besieged Naperville, IL mosque, and Carl Baker (played by Nicholas Cimino), the gay son of the imam’s chief nemesis. As Imam Mustafa struggles to reconcile his support for civil rights with his religious and cultural objections to homosexuality, Carl imagines the Muslim and LGBT communities uniting against their common enemies. 

Playwright Jamil Khoury has written "The Imam and The Homosexual" as part of the development process for his play-in-progress Mosque Alert. This is not a scene that will end up in the actual stage and video versions of Mosque Alert, but rather it will inform the world of the play, and will create context, relational dynamics, and perhaps even language that Jamil will cull from when writing the play.

Introduction

Mosque Alert is now a live stage play!

Mosque Alert runs from March 24 through May 1, 2016

To learn more about the play and... more »

Please respond to the questions below and/or post any comments or suggestions you may have.

1. How does “The Imam and The Homosexual” deepen your understanding of the characters Imam Mustafa Khan Khan and Carl Baker? What new insights did you gain about the characters?

2. How (or how not) are the characters’ differing views on homosexuality, gay rights, Islam, and coalition politics useful in terms of further developing the relationship between Imam Mustafa and Carl? Is a "healthy" relationship between the characters possible?

3. Should content from “The Imam and The Homosexual” end up in the final version of Mosque Alert? If so, what content interests you most?