In a 2014 article in The Guardian, Pakistani-American comedian Aizzah Fatima described one of her first auditions. “One of the roles I auditioned for was ‘Terrorist No 2’s girlfriend,” she admitted tongue in cheek.
Of course, that’s the destiny of most actors who don’t fulfill the blue-eyed-blond-hair requirements of playing your average “as good as apple pie” American. Yet time and time again, while our leaders fight it and even try to build up walls to prevent it, the very greatness of our good ol’ U.S. of A. lies in its immigrant population as well as its indigenous tribes. And the culture that is most often exported and celebrated around the world as “American” is a mixture of African, tribal, native and otherwise ethic music, dance and art. And that’s never vanilla in flavor now, is it?!
One such example to prove my point — I love it when something makes an easy segue into proving my point! — is the upcoming OnStage! Festival which will take place in Rome from January 21st to the 27th, at three venues around the city, the Off Off Theater, the Teatro di Villa Torlonia and Teatro Argentina - Sala Squarzina. Nearly a week of readings, mise en espace and panels to fulfill all the great contemporary American theater we have to offer.
So why did I bring up Fatima in my opening paragraph? Because at the center of it all stands her wondrous one-woman show ‘Dirty Paki Lingerie’. Born out of a desire to work and the frustration Fatima experienced at being offered only secondary, inappropriate roles (see above!), ‘Dirty Paki Lingerie’ has been a labor of love but also a success around the world. And it’s even available as a paperback book.
Having never had the chance to watch it myself, I rely on the Amazon synopsis to describe the experience of Fatima’s show:
Along with Fatima’s effort, there is another play in the festival’s line-up which deals with an exceptional woman, and that’s Heather Massie’s ‘HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr’, a one-woman show also performed by Massie about the iconic movie star we all have to thank for leading to the invention of our cellphones.
The common thread with all the works featured, which include ‘Shooter’ by Sam Graber, Frank J. Avella’s ‘Lured’ and a dance program titled ‘EPT – A Collection of Works’ by the Emotion Physical Theater Company, is about tackling topics that are current and important in the US at the moment. So it’s no surprise plays about gender equality, discrimination and gun control are on that list!
There will be masterclasses and workshop offered and a variety of events, so for all info about the OnStage! Festival head on over to their informative website.
Oh, and one more bit of insight, this festival is twinned with INSCENA! Italian Theater Festival New York.