by Rohina Malik / directed by Rachel Edwards Harvith / world premiere at Chicago Dramatists, 2015 / Jeff Recommended

Jeff Award Nomination for Best New Play

"The play portrays the journey to Mecca as a microcosm of the world. With three million pilgrims converging on one place, there will be miscommunication, things will not go as planned, and tensions will rise. With a generous dose of humor, a recognition that humans are remarkable but far from perfect and a smart mix of ritual, music, tradition and modernity, Malik’s play invites the audience on a journey that all but the most cynical will want to take. Rachel Edwards Harvith’s direction ensures that the words become action. Weaving assuredly between ritual and the mundane, and calm and tension, Harvith keeps her cast grounded while embracing the moments of transcendence the characters experience. Her pacing allows for both the urgency to get to the destination and the quiet moments that need time to unfold ... In a world and time that encourages us to look with distrust at differences and to fear the unknown, Malik’s The Mecca Tales offers a model for recognizing and celebrating humanity precisely because of the differences, and it does so in an entertaining and moving tapestry of stories." - Kerstin Broockmann, Chicago Stage Standard

"Under the fluid direction of Rachel Edwards Harvith, the actors are uniformly excellent, with musician Coren Warden adding just the right sonic atmosphere on the oud. ... Although framed by notions of contemporary Muslim-American life, Malik has written what is essentially a tale of feminist bonding. She largely steers clear of politics, and hones in on how these very different women begin to trust each other, give voice to their personal dilemmas and prepare for change. There is occasional prayer, and talk of the devil, and a certain veil of mysticism at moments, but mostly this is a modern pilgrimage of self discovery." - Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times


scenic design: Regina García / lighting design: Jeff Pines / costume design: Courtney Schum / sound design: Heath Hays / dramaturg: Dana Lynn Formby / production stage manager: Jenniffer J. Thusing*

starring Anita Chandwaney* as Bina / Celeste M. Cooper as Malika / Stephanie Diaz* as Alma / Susaan Jamshidi as Maya / Morgan McCabe* as Grace / Derek Garza as Reza / Coren Warden as the Musician


photography by Liam Fitzgerald


*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States