Wits Theatre: Unveiling Islamophobia On Stage

Unveiled by the New York- based Voyage Theatre company will be part of the 969 Festival line up with three shows on 15, 16, 17 July at Wits Theatre in Johannesburg.  Written by award-winning playwright Rohina Malik and starring South African born actress Gulshan Mia, the play is a skillful exploration of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.

Racism, hate crimes, love, Islam, culture, language, and life come under the spotlight as Gulshan Mia takes on the personas of 5 different women united by their religion.

969 festival

The annual 969 Festival showcases a snapshot of the diversity of creative expression that characterizes the National Arts Festival.

This year there are 21 shows including serious theatre, political satire, dance and music. Running from 13 – 24 July, audiences who did not make the 969 kilometre trek to the festival are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a cultural experience created by some of South Africa’s top artistic talent.

Unveiled that has its South African premiere on the Solo Theatre stage at the National Arts Festival epitomizes the kind of theatre that Director of Wits Theatre’s, Gita Pather passionate advocates and believes in: socially relevant theatre with the potential to change hearts and minds.

This critically acclaimed one-woman show about Islamophobia focuses on the experiences of five Muslim women serving tea while uncovering the challenges of living life behind the hijab in post-9/11 America.

Unveiled premiered in 2009 at Chicago’s 16th Street Theater, where it received widespread acclaim, including notice in the Chicago Tribune (“remarkable”). It was later produced at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater and San Francisco’s Brava Theater, among others. Voyage Theater Company presented the New York premiere of Unveiled in 2015 at the Fourth Street Theatre with praise from Front Row Center (“often fierce, always deeply intelligent”). The play has been performed at universities, churches, mosques, and synagogues across the U.S., its message of tolerance and understanding embraced by people of all religions, creeds, and races.

Actress and activist Gulshan Mia was born and raised in the small town of Estcourt in KwaZulu Natal and studied Drama at Natal Technikon where she was awarded “Best Actor” and “Best Director” of her graduating class. Mia co-wrote and directed Losing Utopia, which was performed at the 2002 South African National Arts Festival. She then worked for Theatre for Life, a nonprofit educational theatre company that tours South African schools performing shows about AIDS awareness, teen pregnancy, and child abuse in English, Afrikaans, and Zulu. Now a permanent U.S. resident, Mia has lived in Brazil, Dubai, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. A champion of women’s rights, she co-wrote and performed with an all-women ensemble in an English/Chinese performance piece about women in Taiwan. Drawn to work that speaks to people, creates awareness, and promotes dialogue, she has performed in several Off-Broadway plays in New York. Mia most recently appeared in a featured role in Bizet’s Pearl Fishers with New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

The creative team for Unveiled includes VTC Artistic Director Wayne Maugans as Director, with Costume and Scenic Design by Peri Grabin Leong and Sound Design by Dan Henry Bøhler. VTC Resident Designer Paul Bartlett is creating a brand-new Lighting Design and VTC Executive Director Charles C. Bales will act as Producer. Promotional photos were provided by Mustafa Önder

This tour of Unveiled is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Tickets are on sale through www.webtickets.co.za. For Block bookings contact Catherine Pisanti on 011-7171376 or email her at catherine.pisanti@wits.ac.za

For Media, PR enquiries contact Buz Consulting Bridget/Lebo on 011 6730264 or 011-477 0923 or email buz@buz.co.za or info@buz.co.za

Running time is approximately 70 minutes (with no interval).

For block bookings contact catherine.pisanti@wits.ac.za or call 011 717 1376.


About Gita Pather

Gitanjali Pather is the Director of the Wits Theatre at the University of Witwatersrand.

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