Playwright Jamil Khoury introduces us to Mosque Alert, the new play he’s writing, and explains the first-of-its-kind, nine-step, online, interactive, new play development and civic engagement process he has developed.
It has been more than a decade since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As I reflect upon that fateful day, I am compelled to dramatize the impact of 9/11 on the American public, which includes our Muslim American brothers and sisters.
There continues to be a backlash against Muslim Americans that began immediately after the attacks of 9/11; a backlash most manifest today as resistance to the building of mosques in U.S. cities and towns.
In the hopes of generating deeper engagement around this issue, I have designed an nine-step, interactive, on-line, new play development process that will assist me in developing and writing my play Mosque Alert. Viewers are encouraged to both influence and assist me as I pen this new play.
My nine-step artistic process allows each participant to act as a co-creator throughout the entire development cycle. I like to think of it as a spiritual convening of the individual with the art. It is direct, uninterrupted, and takes place whenever and wherever the individual so desires.
Mosque Alert tells the story of two suburban American families - one Christian, the other Muslim - whose lives are torn apart by a proposal to build a new mosque in their community. The community at hand is Naperville, Illinois, located in Chicago's western suburbs. At present, there are two* pending cases involving proposed new mosques in Naperville. Mosque Alert is not based on either of these cases, nor are the characters in Mosque Alert based on actual individuals involved.
It is intended as both a work of art and a civic engagement tool.
Mosque Alert seeks to dramatize a multiplicity of views and allow audiences to arrive at their own conclusions. It is intended as both a work of art and a civic engagement tool, advancing Silk Road Rising’s commitment to emotionally compelling drama that facilitates cross cultural dialogue and discourse.
This virtual, new play development workshop, anticipates a highly participatory nine-step journey consisting of stages to be conducted “online,” “offline,” and “live.”
Online components will present characters and conflicts through video blogs (“vlogs”) and taped conflict scenes that are performed by actors. Viewers will be asked to respond to these vlogs and scenes by posting responses to questions I pose, or by posing questions or comments themselves, which I then respond to.
Live components, or portions thereof, will appear online via video streaming of both in-house workshops and staged readings. It is imperative to us that those who cannot attend in person can participate online.
The culmination of this collaborative process will be a full-length stage play and video play. I invite you to join me in this endeavor. Your participation means a great deal to me. As each phase of the development process is released, it will be promoted to those who have signed up for our e-newsletters along with periodic invites to continue engaging with the process.
*One of the two cases has since been resolved. On March 29, 2013, a federal judge overturned a DuPage county court's ruling against the Irshad Learning Center.