A Muslim American family drama

Saturday, April 10: 2 PM & 7 PM
Sunday, April 11: 2 PM with Q&A
Durham Studio Theater - UC Berkeley

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Center for South Asia Studies, and the Center for Southeast Asia Studies present a special staged reading of "The Domestic Crusaders", a two-act Muslim American family drama by acclaimed Pakistani-American playwright (and UC Berkeley alumnus), Wajahat Ali.

This staged reading features the acclaimed New York City cast, fresh from their recent sold-out run at the renowned Nuyorican Poets Café.

"The Domestic Crusaders" is a no-holds barred depiction of a contemporary Pakistani-American Muslim family. In this post 9-11 world, humor, tensions and sparks fly among three generations of family members culminating in an intense family battle. Each crusader struggles to assert and impose their respective voice, while trying to maintain and understand the unifying thread that makes them part of the same family.

This fully staged production is directed by Carla Blank and co-produced by the Before Columbus Foundation. The cast includes South Asian American actors: Adeel Ahmed, Kamran Khan, Imran Javaid, Monisha Shiva, Nidhi Singh and Abbas Zaidi.

The Sunday matinee performance will be followed by a Q&A with the playwright, the director and Producer Ishmael Reed.

The play is presented as part of the ongoing program "Islam Today" focused on new media and youth culture in the Muslim world, organized by UC Berkeley's Centers for Middle Eastern Studies, South Asia Studies, and Southeast Asia Studies, with funding support from the Social Science Research Council.


The Play

Time: The present
Place: The United States of America

Scene I: Tom Jones and the Biryani Surprise
Scene II: Big Trouble In Little Kabul
Scene III: Man Prefers Symmetry
Scene IV: The Case of The Threatening Nail Cutters
Scene V: Just Give Them Some Lollipops


Scene I: The Revenge of IMBSE
Scene II: Kolor Me Kashmir
Scene III: The History of The Masala Chai


The Cast (in order of appearance)

Khulsoom, the mother …………………… Nidhi Singh
Fatima, the daughter  ……………………… Monisha Shiva
Salahuddin, the eldest son  ………………… Kamran Khan
Hakim, the grandfather  …………………… Abbbas Zaid
Salman, the father  …………………… Imran Javaid
Ghafur, the youngest son  …………………… Adeel Ahmed
Voice-Overs ………………… Imran W. Sheikh, Carla Blank


The Production Crew & Staff

Production Manager ……………………………… Cour Dalin
Assistant Director, Stage Manager …………… Imran W. Sheikh
Set Design Consultant  …………………………… Sameena Ali
Sound Design  ……………………………………… Wajahat Ali
Poster Artist  ……………………………… Rusty Zimmerman
Sound Technician  ……………………………… Brian Bostwick
Light Technician  ………………… Jamaica Montgomery-Glenn
Producer  …………………………………… Mejgan Massoumi
Co-Producer  ……………………………………… Ishmael Reed



Wajahat Ali (playwright
is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. This is his first full-length play. Ali’s writings and interviews covering contemporary affairs, politics, the media, popular culture and religion frequently appear in the Washington Post, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, CNN,  Huffington Post, CounterPunch and Chowk, among other online sites. He is the associate editor of Altmuslim.com and contributing editor to Illume Magazine, and is the writer of the popular blog, http://goatmilkblog.com/. His first short story, “Ramadan Blues,” has been published in Powwow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience, Short Fiction From Then to Now (Da Capo Press, 2009). His film, “Ms. Judgments,” was a finalist for the Link TV Muslim American Film Competition. Ali was honored as an “An Influential Muslim American Artist” by the US State Department. He was named a “Muslim Leader of Tomorrow” in 2009 and invited to participate in the “Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow” conference in Doha, Qatar in that year. He is the recipient of Muslim Public Affairs Council’s prestigious “Emerging Muslim American Artist” recognition of 2009. He is also an attorney, practicing in the Bay Area.

Carla Blank (director, dramaturge
has served as artistic director of the Domestic Crusader Project since 2003, mounting staged readings and performances of the play, including 2005 showcase productions at the Thrust Theatre of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the San Jose State University Theatre, a 2008 New York City reading at the Performing the World festival, and at the 2009 New York City production at The Nuyorican Poets Café. Blank recently collaborated with director and designer Robert Wilson to create Kool, a performance portrait inspired by legendary Japanese choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi, a long time collaborator and friend of both artists. Kool premiered at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in April 2009 and was presented at East Hampton’s Guild Hall in August 2009. A half hour film related to this production, by Richard Rutkowski, will air on French television this summer. Blank made her professional debut as a choreographer/dancer in 1963 as a participant in a Judson Dance Theater Workshop performance in New York, and since that time has devoted much attention to helping create youth and community arts collaborative performance projects. These projects provide experiences with performers from preschool through aged adults, and formed the basis for her anthology of performing arts techniques and styles, Live OnStage! (Dale Seymour Publications, 1997), co-authored with Jody Roberts. With Ishmael Reed, Blank co-edited the anthology, Powwow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience, Short Fiction From Then to Now (Da Capo Press, 2009).

Imran W. Sheikh  (Assistant Director, Stage Manager, Voice-Overs, General Male Understudy
is an actor and voice-over talent in New York City. While at Rutgers University, he joined the College Avenue Players and hasn’t left the stage since. He began his career in Voice-Overs with The Domestic Crusaders. Inspired by The Domestic Crusaders, he has co-founded, along with Imran Javaid, a theatre company comprised of Pakistani actors, playwrights, and directors called Parwaz Playhouse. He had the pleasure of starring alongside Adeel Ahmed in Parwaz Playhouse’s debut in November of 2009 with the original one-act play, Glass, by Imran Javaid. For more information please visit www.parwazplayhouse.com.

Adeel Ahmed (Ghafur, the youngest son)
is originally from Huntington, NY.  He began his journey into the world of acting after receiving training from TVI Actor’s Studio.  His first work included roles on television shows Law and Order: Criminal Intent and the pilot of Cashmere Mafia with Lucy Lui.  Ahmed then worked with Academy Award nominee Charles Fuller in the stage production of The Woodpecker at the historic Cherry Lane Theater.  Ahmed went on to receive rave reviews for his performance in the play, Voices From Guantanamo, where he played an innocent and amputated detainee.  Ahmed’s role in Off Madison helped the production win Best Comedy at the Access TV Festival in New York. He continued to be highly praised by viewers and critics for his work with acclaimed director Mehreen Jabbar in the hit Pakistani television series Malaal.  Most recently, Ahmed’s work was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival alongside Emmy nominated actors David Hyde Pierce, LaVar Burton & Golden Globe nominated actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Additional work includes: Film: One Of The Greats, Doris’ Mouse Earrings, Pehli Baar (English title: First Time), The Four of Us, Deadbeat Dad, Don’t Panic, Tere Bina (English Title: Without You), Rearranged, Redemption; TV: The Streets (pre-production), Friend of Bill, Iqbal in America, Chaos in Gotham; Theatre: Can I Help You?, Apocalypse Earlier, Not So Calm But Still Totally Dead, The Swansong, The Bear. Contact: adeel@adeelahmed.com. Ahmed continues his training as an actor and after performing The Domestic Crusaders in the 5-week Off-Broadway run, he is excited to take part of this collaboration at Berkeley. He sends much love to his family and friends!

Kamran Khan  (Salahuddin [Sal], the eldest son
grew up in Peoria, Illinois, the home of Caterpillar, Richard Pryor, and next door to Ronald Reagan’s birthplace. Rooted deep in Americana, Kamran searched far and wide for a stage to replace Peoria. Only New York City could do so, where he has most recently performed in the play For Pete’s Sake, written by and starring Joe Capozzi.  Other credits include the Fringe Festival award winning play, John Goldfarb, Please Come Home, written by William Peter Blatty and has performed stand-up comedy at the Comic Strip, Live! open mics.  He is currently in pre-production on the feature film, Ground Zed, which he has written (www.groundzed.com) and Kamran’s photographic work can be seen on his site at www.kamphotography.info

Imran Javaid (Salman, the father)
is a co-founder, with Imran W. Sheikh, of the theatre company Parwaz Playhouse and played the role of Salman in the 2009 New York production of The Domestic Crusaders.  He has written several plays and recently directed a production of his Glass, a one-act play set in a country “much like Pakistan,” at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe.  The play will be performed as part of the Downtown Urban Theater Festival 2010 in New York on April 30. An alumnus of the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Harvard College, and the University of Virginia School of Law, Imran currently practices securities law as a senior associate at WilmerHale in New York City, where he resides with his wife Safia Hussain. If you would like to get in touch with Imran, please e-mail him at isjavaid@gmail.com

Monisha Shiva (Fatima, the daughter
was born and raised in New York City, where she loved performance as a child. She enjoyed people’s stories and to play pretend in school. She further nurtured acting and her interest in Kathak, an Indian classical style of dance, in Edison, NJ.   In her comeback to NYC, she studied at William Esper Studios and Studio 5.   You can find her in movies such as The Guru, Cosmopolitan, and Karma, Confessions & Holi and films from independent artists. She has performed in theater productions of Rats and I, Kreon.  Monisha’s other interests include boxing and traveling.  She believes that is important for women to experience their own mobility in this world! If you’d like to get in touch with Monisha, please email her at neenyc@gmail.com

Nidhi Singh (Khulsoom, the mother)
trained at Studio ACT in San Francisco.  She played Begum Sumroo, the fearless courtesan-stateswoman, from 18th century India in Begum Sumroo: The Rebel Courtesan as well as Kiran in A Muggy Night in Mumbai in SF Bay area productions.  She played Khulsoom, the mother, in The Domestic Crusaders in its New York run at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a role she also played in its Bay Area premiere. An independent video-maker and wildlife conservationist, Singh is the Secretary of www.elephantvoices.org. She can be found online at www.nidhi-singh.com

Abbas Zaidi (Hakim, the grandfather)
was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in 8 countries on 4 continents. He started his acting career playing Careful Hans in 4th grade in a Pakistan Air Force School, and has since played a number of roles in drama, skits, & dances, as well as serving as MC in international variety shows. Abbas has been an active member of many Pakistani-Indian communities the world over. He guided the newly formed PSA while serving as elected Treasurer of the ISA at George Mason University, in Fairfax, VA. He then served as elected VP of PSA at The George Washington University, in the Fall of 1995. As an early organizer of NetSAP, he worked to bring Indians and Pakistani’s closer together - his lifelong ambition. He loves the role of Hakim, a character representing the last generation of Pakistani’s who can still claim to hail from Hyderabad Deccan, India. His first effort at an openly accessible, self-published eBook, titled “The Present - A Book of Learning”, earned him the ‘Phenomenal Men of the Web’ award in 1999. Residing now in San Francisco and New York City, he remains an avid blogger-activist, a multi-lingual poet, and a student of the not-so-obvious. He currently serves as associate editor of WadiWallah.com, and is a contributing editor of AltGlobe.com.

The Before Columbus Foundation
(co--sponsoring organization) was founded in 1976 as a non-profit educational and service organization dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of contemporary American multicultural literature. The goals of BCF are to provide recognition and a wider audience for the wealth of cultural and ethnic diversity that constitutes American writing. In 1980, BCF created the American Book Awards, which has now become known, internationally, as the premier award for writers given by writers. BCF has always employed the term “multicultural” not as a description of an aspect of American literature, but as a definition of all American literature. BCF believes that the ingredients of America’s so-called “melting pot” are not only distinct, but integral to the unique constitution of American Culture—the whole comprises the parts.

For information on The Domestic Crusaders Project, and if you would like to offer support to further develop this play and other productions of The Domestic Crusaders Project please contact us through: 
Before Columbus Foundation
The Raymond House
655-13th Street, Suite 302
Oakland, California 94612
You can make tax deductible donations by writing a check payable to: Before Columbus Foundation,  a California based not-for-profit foundation
or reach us through our website: www.domesticcrusaders.com
or email: dcpublicity @gmail.com