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Chicago Dramatists Kicks Off New Season With World Premiere of The Mecca Tales

Chicago, IL – WEBWIRE

CHICAGO – March 4, 2015 – After taking a one-year hiatus from production, Chicago Dramatists is officially launching its new season with the highly-anticipated world premiere of The Mecca Tales written by Resident Playwright Rohina Malik and directed by Associate Artistic Director Rachel Edwards Harvith. The production, which was developed in conjunction with the Goodman Theatre, is running March 13 to April 12 at Chicago Dramatists (1105 W. Chicago Avenue) with previews March 5, 6, 7 and 12. Press nights are March 13 and 14 at 8:00 p.m.

For tickets, visit or call 312-633-0630. Tickets run $18 to $40 and group discounts are available.

Supported by a skilled cast and live music, The Mecca Tales provides an important perspective on the Muslim religion and culture in a time of heightened socio-political tension and persecution. It tells the tale of five American Muslim women of diverse cultural backgrounds who meet for the first time in Mecca during the Islamic pilgrimage known as the Hajj. Each pilgrim is encouraged to reveal her unique and personal reason for making this journey. The women must choose whether to reveal themselves and go forward, or to guard their stories and stay behind. The Mecca Tales explores the power of ritual and redemption, and what it means to be an American Muslim woman.

“I have always found the idea of pilgrimage fascinating,” said playwright Rohina Malik. “I wanted to explore the need humans have to take a spiritual journey. Working with Rachel and the cast has been exciting because the process has been a spiritual and artistic journey, with many discoveries made along the way.”

“Rohina’s play explores the power of ritual and the sharing of personal burdens as ways to recover from the past and move boldly into the future,” said director Rachel Edwards Harvith. “As a director, I am always drawn to stories that dare me to ask, ‘What does a memory look like, sound like, feel like?’”

“As one of a few organizations dedicated solely to developing and producing new work, Chicago Dramatists is excited to kick off our new season with an important story that can serve as a catalyst for empathy and change,” said Meghan Beals, Interim Artistic Director at Chicago Dramatists. “Rohina and Rachel have created a theatrical experience that is unsettling, heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. We look forward to taking the audience on a journey that will continue well after the show.”

About the Playwright

Rohina Malik is a critically acclaimed playwright, actress and solo performance artist. Born and raised in London, England and of South Asian heritage, Malik is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and an artistic associate at the 16th Street Theater. Her work has been produced or developed at Chicago Dramatists, The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, 16th Street Theater, Brava Theater, Crossroads Theater and Theater Project Baltimore. Malik was recently awarded the Y Award from the Evanston YWCA for her work to end racism and empower women.

About the Director

Rachel Edwards Harvith is the Associate Artistic Director of Chicago Dramatists and was a founding company member of Mortar Theatre. She has also worked with Chicago-area companies such as Kokandy Productions, American Theatre Company, American Blues Theatre, Stage Left, Teatro Luna, Pegasus Players, City Lit and Bailiwick Chicago. Her most recent directing credits include Assassins (Kokandy Productions), which was named the #5 Chicago theatre production of 2014 by Time Out Chicago; The Invasion of Skokie (ShPIeL); Bombs, Babes and Bingo (Mortar); and Cabaret (Artists of Concordia). Outside of Chicago, Rachel has directed for Iowa Summer Rep, Syracuse Stage, Riverfront Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, and Dreamwell Theatre, among others. She served as dramatic literary manager for Bailiwick Chicago and interim literary manager for Long Wharf Theatre and Syracuse Stage. Rachel has a BA in Theatre from Grinnell College and MFA in Directing from the University of Iowa.

The Creative Team

The cast includes Anita Chanwaney, Celeste M. Cooper, Stephanie Díaz, Derek Garza, Susaan Jamshidi and Morgan McCabe, with Coren Warden playing the oud.

Designs are by Regina García (scenic), Jeff Pines (lighting), Courtney Schum (costumes), Heath Hays (sound) and Dan Brenna (properties).

Stage Management is by Jennifer Thusing and Technical Direction by Steven E. Hill.

About Chicago Dramatists

Established in 1979, Chicago Dramatists is a non-profit theatre dedicated to nurturing playwrights, developing new plays and enriching the national theatre repertory. Chicago Dramatists is home to 36 Resident Playwrights and a creative source to over 150 Network Playwrights.

Through workshops, readings, classes, full productions and special programs, Chicago Dramatists provides opportunities for beginning and established dramatists to develop their work, expand their professional affiliations, showcase their plays to the theatre marketplace and collaborate with actors, directors and audiences during the creative process. The organization offers theatres and audiences a central resource to discover the plays and playwrights that will shape the theatre of the 21st century.

Chicago Dramatists and Artistic Director Emeritus Russ Tutterow are proud of the important role they have played in transforming Chicago from a town nearly void of new work in the 1970s to a national center for playwrights and new plays today.


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