Unexpected Journey’s at the Immigrant Project

The Immigrants’ Theatre Project, situated in the Tenement Museum building, now in its third year, was launched by Artistic Director Marcy Arlin. What a welcome addition to New York theatre it is. The usual statements of purpose printed in many small theatre programs speak about nourishing new plays, new actors, new audiences, new treatment of classics, etc., are laudable, brave, very worthy, and we attend them and appreci­ate them all, but here is a project with such a basic and relevant theme that it jolts us back to thinking about the foreign peo­ple whose physical and mental labors built this country and whose descendants have become so absorbed into the fabric of American life that they – we – are today’s Americans. In theater, this meshing of origins has become seamless with each company struggling towards its own artistic goals. To quote from ~ the recent program, “It was crucial to illustrate how the immigrant experience has remained the same … over 300 years of American history, and to use quality art to promote under­standing and fight against intol­erance and bigotry focused on newcomer immigrants.” The one-act plays performed on a recent Saturday evening were part of “Unexpected Journeys,” a festival of plays by Moslem women and women who lived in Moslem countries. Our hearts reach out to those who have suffered the excruciating and horrific conditions of living under the Taliban, however, even the most liberal Moslem society seems restrictive to western women. Still, it is most interesting to note the similarities of their domestic problems to our own. Both plays illuminated their situations back home. Haya Husseini, a Palestinian Arab, now living in Australia, wrote a delightful play, Cracking Mud Is Pinching Me which concerns the surprising traditional­ism of the youngest female in the family contrasting with her mother’s and grandmother’s embracing of the modem world, with all its liberality and frank sexuality. This play was beauti­fully acted by Afaf Shawwa, as the daughter, Tamir, as the mother, and Irma St. Paule, as the grandmother, with Tzahi Moskovitz being adorable in all the men’s roles, and sensitively directed by Macy Arlin.

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