Controversial ‘Mosque Alert’ Play Opens in Chicago

Mosque Alerta bold new play by award winning playwright Jamil Khoury, will receive a professional world premiere production, this Spring, from March 24 to May 1, 2016 at Silk Road Rising in The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St, Lower Level, Chicago, IL.

Mosque Alert  tells the story of three fictional families living in Naperville, Illinois, whose lives are forever changed by a proposed Islamic Center on the site of a beloved local landmark. The play was inspired by the 2010 Ground Zero Mosque controversy in New York City.

“If Mosque Alert was relevant when I first started, that relevance has since exploded. Today the play exists within a cultural zeitgeist animated by fears of immigrants, fears of Muslims, demographic anxiety attacks, and calls to erect walls and impose bans—a more optimistic read is that of one big messy America struggling to work it out for the better,” says playwright Jamil Khoury.

Unlike most plays, Mosque Alert was developed through an open and public workshop process, originally conceived as an online video-based civic engagement project.

Director Edward Torres, who returned to his native Chicago from New York City where he recently directed Macbeth for the Public Theater, reflects on the themes of the play and says, “Mosque Alert gives voice to multiple American perspectives and exposes the fears at the heart of intolerance.”

Over the last two years, Khoury has adapted the project into a stage play by working in communities with both Muslim and non-Muslim participants.  Over 2,500 individuals have participated in the new play’s development and have expressed their surprise at how closely the play reflects real life scenarios.

“When I launched Mosque Alert as a digital online initiative nearly five years ago,” says Khoury, “how could I have guessed that my three fictional families in Naperville, Illinois, with intertwined lives and competing worldviews, would drive a story so reflective of actual mosque battles and presidential politics in 2016? Mosque Alert, I believe, not only responds to the current climate, but gives new spin to the adage ‘life imitates art.’”

Playwright Jamil Khoury, author of "Mosque Alert." (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)
Playwright Jamil Khoury, author of “Mosque Alert.” (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)

Mosque Alert explores the intersections of zoning and Islamophobia with humor, family drama, and refreshingly blunt honesty. The play provides no easy answers. Instead, it offers insights into conversations taking place within segments of the Muslim American community, the challenges faced by their allies, and the political beliefs that have contributed to a climate of fear.

The play isn’t one sided, either. Instead, it works to ascribe integrity to a wide spectrum of perspectives, even those we may find objectionable, and it presents characters that are complex, flawed, and ultimately relatable.

“With Mosque Alert we’re seizing the gray areas,” says Khoury, “and inviting audiences to grapple with unsettling truths about our post-9/11 world: namely, the resistance to mosque-building in communities across the US, and what that resistance tells us about ourselves.”

Mosque Alert performs from March 24 to May 1, 2016 at Silk Road Rising in The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St, Lower Level, Chicago, IL.

Photo (above): Poster art for the stage play, Mosque Alert; (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)

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