Mirvish Production: Disgraced

Posted Friday, April 8th, 2016. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I was invited to see this play last night to be frank I thought it was called Grace and about Elvis, The King. (looked it up).

This play could not be further from Elvis and the light entertainment that would have ensued. Disgraced is a topical, thought-provoking, deep play with multiple layers. I did really like it and yes, it did capture my mind and forced me to ask myself many questions. If that was the intent, then I believe the play succeeded. At the end the play received the accolades it deserved. The acting was good and 80 minutes passed by quickly.

So what is Disgraced about? Disgraced (in my own words) is about a man named, Amir who has turned away from Muslim and study of Islam with a disdain stating all of the negative and horrible things about it. He Anglicizes his name to hide his background and fit more into the world he exists: he is a lawyer working for a firm in which the partners are Jewish. Amir marries a white woman, Emily, an artist, who has romanticized Islam, particularly as part of her work. There is the nephew, Abe, who initially changes his name and then changes back, proud of his heritage but seems to be becoming more radicalized in his thinking. The other couple introduced is Isaac, a Jewish man involved in the art world who through his wife, Jory, a black lawyer at the same firm as Amir, introduces Isaac to Emily. Emily is hoping to have Isaac support a showing of her work.

Like I said there are so many dimensions to this play: religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, art beliefs, history beliefs, gender beliefs; betrayal, lies, deceit, communication, love, commitment, passion, drive, friendship, support… you name it, it was touched somehow.

Abe, Amir’s nephew (his sister’s son) comes to his uncle who previously was a public defender and now a private lawyer and asks for help for his Imam who is being held in jail and accused of being a supporter of terrorist behaviour – collecting money for these groups. Abe feels that he is not getting fair representation and the Imam doesn’t trust any of his counsel for none are Muslim. Amir does go to the jail to meet with the Imam and he is frustrated because the Imam spent the entire time trying to get him to come back to prayer. Abe asks his uncle to attend the court proceedings on the day the Imam is being arraigned. Amir does so and is quoted by the New York Times and portrayed as counsel and support for the Imam using the name of the firm.

At the same time Emily is immersing herself in Islamic inspired art form from centuries ago and wishes to revive and enlighten the art world about the influences of Muslim/Moore art on the world. She points out it is not different than studying the Greeks and other cultures who are celebrated and recognized for their contribution to society.

Emily’s naiveté and romanticizing of Islam and Amir’s true feelings about his views of Islam and being Muslim and what is really ingrained in him are brought to the forefront through a series of events. Amir, who believes his hard work will be recognized by the firm when he is asked to become partner, finds himself following the appearance at the court proceedings to be questioned by the partners instead: where were you born? (Afghanistan today) He told them India, which in truth in 1947 was one country and the British divided India in half with one half becoming Pakistan in 1948 so today he would be from Pakistan. Amir lied and the partners become suspicious. This impacts his path to partner. At one part Jory tells Amir that she is being offered partner and not him. He goes ballistic and goes on a tirade about what he has given to the firm. Jory tells him that while he is a good litigator, duplicitous in nature, the partners feel that is true of his relationship with the firm. He lied on his application.

A dinner party between Amir and Emily & Isaac and Jory unravels the question, beliefs, accusations, and feelings of each. A Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and a Black person each with their histories, beliefs and background come to this table and all is revealed. Isaac, like Amir has moved away from the religious beliefs of Judaism however when push comes to shove and Amir makes a comment about how Muslims want to see Israel pushed into the sea Isaac challenges Amir on his personal thoughts. He is then asked about what he thought about 911 when the planes when into the buildings.

Amir admits that part of him felt proud and that it was time that Muslims take back their power. I was left to feel there is this Us vs. Them attitude/sentiment.

I do recommend the play and don’t want to spoil everything so much happens at this dinner party: deception on may levels, lack of communication, and lack of self-awareness. I watched this play from a the eyes of a Jewish woman who truly holds us all equal as human beings. I have to say that when I hear some of the sentiment revealed in this play it makes me question the true intent of Muslims, especially by how they interpret the Koran. The Us vs. Them feeling is about division, power and ego. I wonder where the moderate Muslim believers are that do not feel this way and why they have not spoken up more? To take a position against this feeling, behaviour and belief. There is a lot left to ponder.

I love being Jewish and am proud to be Jewish. I am not religious rather more entrenched in the cultural beliefs. I love family, community and bringing people together.

Let me be clear I don’t like any radicalized movement of any religion. It is all about domination, power, and ego. I know that there is radicalization in almost all organized religions.

If we look around the world today there is much chaos. I have to admit I don’t understand why the Muslim world did not step up to the plate to take in their fellow brethren from Syria: where was Qatar? Saudi Arabia? Instead people are coming to America and Canada where the culture and beliefs are different. I read a recent letter written by a pilot that said you have chosen my country and I am proud to be American, if you want to live here great but you must understand we don’t need to change our ways for you…. you need to adapt to our ways.

I love being Canadian. My family has been here for over 5 generations. My grandparents were born here. When people choose to come to this country they need to understand the culture and “Canadian Way”. I have to say we lack in our strong Canadian identity and while we accept and encourage people to continue their religious beliefs and push for a multicultural existence (which I love) it must be within the democratic system that Canada is built on: Freedom of Speech (not hate speech), Men and Women are equal, and so forth. Otherwise perhaps Canada may not be the place for you and potentially make more sense to find a country that is more suitable to your ways, beliefs and religious beliefs.

My blog today was really about a thought-provoking play that highlights many of the sentiments, concerns, beliefs that a lot of people (all backgrounds) hold; it’s relevant and topical today, especially with the USA electoral process going on.

I would love to see a world where religious beliefs don’t define us rather being human is much more important.

We all need to fundamental things:

Food, water, oxygen, sleep, clothes and love.

If you have a chance to see this play go. Be open.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend.

All my love,

Sandra

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