About Face Theatre opens its 2022-2023 season with the world premiere of Omer Abbas Salem’s new play Mosque4Mosque, directed by Sophiyaa Nayar. Mosque4Mosque is a family comedy about a queer Arab-American Muslim man navigating his first real relationship while his relentlessly caring immigrant mother tries to find the perfect man for him to marry. Mosque4Mosque will be presented November 17 – December 17, 2022 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The press opening is Monday, November 21 at 7:30pm.
Ibrahim is an average 30-something queer Arab-American Muslim who is constantly being reminded how unmarried he is by his relentlessly caring immigrant mother, Sara. Having helped raise his smart, popular, cheerleading hijabi younger sister, Ibrahim has always been comfortable sinking into the background. Normal job, quiet life, easy men. But on the precipice of finding what could be his first real relationship, Sara feels compelled to take Ibrahim's future into her own hands by attempting to find the perfect man for him to marry. Mosque4Mosque is a comedy about a normal Muslim American family that asks us to wrestle with what we believe normal to be.
Mosque4Mosque was workshopped and performed virtually through the Criminal Queerness Festival and Dixon Place in July, 2020, directed by Sharifa Elkady. It was selected to be Steppenwolf Theatre's SCOUT Development play for 2020 and received a 30-hour workshop and a fully produced reading in March of 2021. This world premiere production at About Face Theatre will receive dramaturgical and community engagement support from Silk Road Rising.
Director Sophiyaa Nayar says “Activist and author adrienne maree brown describes visionary fiction as centering marginalized peoples, ‘aiming neither for utopia nor dystopia, but that harder, more realistic place in the middle.’ Mosque4Mosque does exactly that -- it reimagines what our relationship with religion, queerness, and family could look like. It dismantles stereotypes about Arab, Muslim, and immigrant families, which are often harmfully painted by the media as violent caricatures or side-plot comedic relief.”
“I can see myself in Abbas’ work. I see my family in it,” she continued. “I see Arab friends I've grown up with and their families in it. He paints these characters with such concrete detail and infuses them with so much life that it’s hard not to root for them. A friend once talked about how you can smell his plays when you read them, and I think that holds especially true with Mosque4Mosque.”
Pay-what-you-can tickets ($5-$35) will go on sale in the coming weeks at The Den Theatre box office or About Face Theatre’s website. The performance schedule November 17 – December 17, 2022 is as follows: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm. Check the calendar for schedule details around the holidays. All performances will take place at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago.
About the Artists
Sophiyaa Nayar (she/her): director
Sophiyaa is from New Delhi, India. She creates interdisciplinary and genre-bending work that centers (im)migrants. She is a member of the WP Lab 2020-22, 3Arts Make a Wave Grantee, a Definition Theatre ensemble member, a member of Directors' Lab Chicago 2017, and a resident in Milwaukee Rep’s 2017/18 season. Recent directing credits: Modern Women Omer Abbas Salem (Playwrights Unit Reading, Goodman Theatre), Plural (Love) by Jen Goma and Haruna Lee (WP, Pipeline Festival), Shakuntala by Lavina Jadhwani (Future Labs, Goodman Theatre). Love in the Time of Jonestown: A Radio Play by Omer Abbas Salem (New Coordinates), Good Years by Ada Alozie (Film, Definition Theatre), Pretty Shahid by Omer Abbas Salem (Jackalope Theatre). Recent AD credits: Search for Signs of Intelligent Life… with Cecily Strong (Leigh Silverman), Nollywood Dreams (Saheem Ali). She was part of the SDC Foundation’s Observership Class, through which she worked on Soft Power by Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang at The Public. Her production of EthiopianAmerica By Sam Kebede (Definition Theatre) won Black Theatre Alliance Awards for Best Play, Featured Actor and Actress, and a Jeff award for Fight Choreography. She has developed work with Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Shed, American Players Theatre, Writers Theatre, Jackalope, Milwaukee Rep, and MCC theatre. Her recent touring show, Movement Live, is headed to Lincoln Center in 2023.
Omer Abbas Salem (he/him): playwright
Omer Abbas Salem is a Chicago actor and playwright. As an actor, he's worked with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, The New Coordinates, Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Griffin Theatre, The House, Bailiwick Chicago, Actors Theatre of Louisville, St. Louis Rep, Roundabout Theater, and The Atlantic Theater. As a playwright, his work has been developed and produced at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, First Floor Theater, DePaul University, National Queer Theater, Definition Theatre, About Face Theater, and The New Coordinates. He is the winner of Steppenwolf's SCOUT Development Project (20/21), Definition Theatre's Amplify Commission (20/21), Goodman Theatre's Future Labs Development (21), The Cunningham Commission at DePaul Theatre School (21/22), Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit (21/22) and First Floor Theater's Blueprint Commission (21/22). He was an apprentice of the Actors Theatre of Louisville (17/18) and is also a proud ensemble member with Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, First Floor Theater, and The New Coordinates. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and the University of Chicago. During the day, he's a Client Strategist in new-tech. Abbas is represented by DDO Artist Agency and The Gersh Agency.
Fact Sheet / Mosque4Mosque
Written by: Omer Abbas Salem
Directed by: Sophiyaa Nayar
Dates: November 17 – December 17, 2022
Press Opening: Monday, November 21 at 7:30pm
- Thursdays: 7:30pm
- Fridays: 7:30pm
- Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
- Sundays: 3:00pm
Check the calendar for schedule details around the holidays.
Location: The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Tickets: Pay-What-You-Can: $5-$35
Box Office: The Den Theatre Box Office is located at 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Beginning in About Face’s 2021-2022 season, AFT’s producing home is The Den Theatre in Wicker Park. Opened in 2014, The Den Theatre is home to more active performance and event space than any other building in the country. The Den bills itself as a center for entertainment and artistic expression, providing a warm and diverse environment where everyone feels welcome and empowered to gather, play, create and share. The Haven Lounge at The Den Theatre serves drinks until 1 hour after the end of the final performance of the night. Please note: The Den Theatre box office and the Haven Lounge are cashless. Only credit cards and tap-to-pay options are accepted.
About Face is committed to the safety of its artists, staff, and the community, and stand behind the COVID-19 safety policies in place at The Den Theatre. All artists, performers, staff, and patrons must provide proof of a full course of COVID-19 vaccination. Patrons must have a completed COVID-19 vaccination card, with their final dose administered at least fourteen days prior to the event. Additionally, any individual over the age of 16 shall provide identification bearing the same identifying information as the proof of full vaccination. The Den Theatre will accept a negative COVID-19 test as a means of admission provided the test is administered by a medical professional within the last 72 hours prior to entering a covered location. No at-home tests will be accepted as a means of admission. All individuals will be required to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking. Given the length of its shows and events, About Face encourage the use of N95 masks.
Up-to-date information about The Den Theatre and COVID-19 policies can be found at aboutfacetheatre.com/dentheatre/#covid-safety-rules.
About About Face Theatre
About Face Theatre advances LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance.
Since its founding in 1995, About Face Theatre has been a national leader in producing theatre by queer artists that tell queer stories. Through bold theatre and arts-based educational programs, the work of About Face Theatre celebrates the persistence and joy of queer identities while shining a spotlight on the social inequalities impacting LGBTQIA+ people.
Learn more at www.aboutfacetheatre.com.