Making its Los Angeles debut, The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood presents “All American Girl,” an inspiring, intriguing one woman show, written by acclaimed playwright Wendy Graf, and directed by Anita Khanzadian. As a young American woman, Katie goes from fashion scarf and designer purse to burka, this beautiful coming of age story is sure to reduce Islam-ophobia, and help foster dialogues and community building. Loosely inspired by the real life wife of the Boston bomber, a seemingly normal girl from Rhode Island, Graf had many questions: Was she involved? Were they protecting her? What did she know? This play is an intricate look at truth vs. deception, and seeing things for what they really are. This powerful play provides a backdrop for modern day terroristic attacks in America, while exploring the humanity inside the tragedy.
Wendy Graf, in writing her story, had no agenda, other than having her audience “see the truth of human behavior and something of their own humanity.” Some women will do anything for love and belonging, even if it possibly means enabling suicide bomber/martyr activity, as a means to ultimate human bonding and seemingly lasting connection. This play has a recurrent theme that reveals tragedies, with questions lurking such as ‘is terrorism and a propensity towards war inherent in many Orthodox religions, such as fundamentalist Moslem?’ and ‘is violence ever justified?’ The provocative dialogue that ensues, performed alternatively by actresses Annika Marks and Jeanne Syquia, is brilliant, as the performer dons a mélange of accents, props, and mannerisms to portray many characters. We see on the news every day a situation where people are communicating violently and know no other way. Graf, in her heartfelt show, helps us to make a really difficult conversation into a productive one. Hopefully the message of this show will empower people to move the American/Muslim dialogue in a nonviolent direction. At a time when ISIS is recruiting women, now comes this exciting play, filled with twists and turns. Do young, impressionable women join a radical, extremist group to find validation with men, who ‘proclaim to love them?’ The playwright has always been passionately interested in understanding the ‘moment to moment choices people make to determine who they are,’ as she wrestled with creating her character’s development. This play so beautifully plays out this dynamic, as we see Katie’s inner being unravel and evolve onstage. The audience is challenged to find the finesse between the weak and the brash, to make sense of random violence that pervades our world. All American Girl is proof that Wendy Graf continues to bring new, enlightening, provocative themes to the LA theatre community for all generations.
The events of this play make one reflect on the notion of love, not only in the traditional, romantic sense, but equally compelling, a more universal kind of love between people of different cultures and religions. Can Muslims truly love non-Muslims? Although this question may seem naïve and idealistic, when we see so much violence, hatred, and divisiveness, theatrical, artistic productions, such as this one, is the first step to building bridges, not walls.
Through July 26th
Lounge Theatre 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood CA 90038
Tues- Sat. 8PM; Sun. 3PM