PLAYWRIGHT ANAND RAO got the idea for 'A Muslim in the Midst' in Bangalore when he offered a ride in his car to a family of complete strangers stranded on the sidewalk late in the night. 'A Muslim in the Midst' is the dramatization of those events, which he describes as "quiet and uneventful during but volatile and uncommon in hindsight".
A bi-lingual writer, actor, director, a part-time academic and management consultant; Anand's professional career spans a wide range of fields from advertising creative and journalism to corporate communications, organizational development, and higher education. Born and raised in Bangalore, India, he has played prominent roles in over 50 theater productions in English and his native language Kannada.
As a television actor, he was seen in daily soaps on regional television in Kannada with popular award-winning directors..A strong proponent of social justice, multi-cultural theater and performing arts, he has worked closely with many multi-ethnic performing arts groups in Utah, New York, and New Jersey, directing plays, hosting stage shows, training children, writing scripts and offering strategic advice to individuals and companies. Anand has an M.B.A. from the Westminster College, and Graduate Certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Utah, in addition to M.A., in English Literature, and advanced studies in journalism and public relations from Universities in India. As he continues working on taking A Muslim in the Midst to more places, he is wrapping up the manuscript for another play 'Deadlock' and 'The Spice Trail Scrolls' a musical based on Panchatantra, the ancient Indian collection of fables.
September 14, 2001: On the streets of Bangalore, India, a poor Muslim family is stranded. Desperate to reach a relative’s home in a distant suburb, the new immigrants to the city are struggling to find a ride late in the night. Watching them closely is a Hindu couple, both executives of American companies. The liberal and westernized executive couple offer to take the traditional and rural Muslim couple along. The conversation quickly takes an unexpected turn as the two worlds collide. Fueled by a pro and anti-Islamic rhetoric, and warnings about potential terror threats intermittently playing on the radio, the characters fight within their self-imposed confines of prejudice and fear, in their attempts to look beyond the obvious ideological differences, and unravel a common fellowship based on humanity.
The topics around islamophobia, terrorism and economic refugees will (unfortunately) continue to make headlines, making it all the more necessary to tell stories that render a balanced perspective as seen from the eyes of the most affected - ordinary people on the street. A Muslim in the Midst, puts into focus the issues around class consciousness, social and educational inequality, gender equality, modern medicine, and perceptions around politics and religion.
Many countries around the world have suffered the affects of terrorism but the United States woke up to the reality and danger on 9/11, when terror hit home. The play captures a crucial time in history, in India - a country plagued by terrorism for decades. A play about 9/11 and its impact on distant societies from an outsider’s perspective has never been presented on a world stage. A Muslim in the Midst tells a little known story about the repercussions of the event in a land distant yet closely connected. The characters and their challenges could be set anywhere in the world, and the audience agreed unanimously about the play’s universal relevance.
RAJ SUNDER: An Indian man, early 20s to late 50s. Well-dressed, clean-cut, and articulate. Works for an American corporation. Diplomatic and relaxed. Liberal, open-minded and light-hearted, who does his best to avoid conflicts. Speaks in a perfect standard American accent.
PRIYA SUNDER: Raj’s wife of many years. A stylish and articulate Indian woman in her 20s to 50s. Works for an American corporation. Fiery and passionate. Liberal and progressive, NPR and Political news junkie. Loves a good argument. Feminist. Speaks in a perfect standard American accent.
HANEEF PASHA: A traditional Muslim man, South Asian, mid-thirties or older, Powerfully built, wears an unkempt beard, gruff and unpolished speech.
SHABANA PASHA: Haneef’s pregnant wife. South Asian woman mid-twenties and younger, Wears a burqa or a hijab with the full-length abaya. Unpolished speech.
RICKSHAW DRIVERS: Men of various ages, wearing khaki uniforms. (Can have none or many depending on the size of production).
RADIO VOICES: Voices of Indian, American and British accents for news broadcast and emergency announcements. The voices can be recorded or live. AuthentiThe consistency of diction and accent have to be maintained
UNIQUE STRUCTURE OF THE PLAY
Single set, and one-sit continuous action for 90 minutes.
Uniquely structured, the length of the story is the actual length of the whole play without any flashbacks or time leap
About 30% of the play takes place in a car
Duration: 85 to 90 Minutes. Continuous action, one-sit