Quote of the Day: They have no idea what it is like to lose home at the risk of never finding home again, have your entire life split between two lands and become the bridge between two countries. Rupi Kaur, Milk & Honey (quotes found on Buzzfeed (of all places) 21 Of the Most Powerful Things Ever Said About Being an Immigrant, with surprisingly positive comments.) This one was posted in the comments by Zahra Hankir:
“He says: I am from there, I am from here,
but I am neither there nor here.
I have two names which meet and part . . .
I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
which is the language of my dreams.” — Mahmoud Darwish on Edward Said – A Contrapuntal Reading
Familiar is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen! It is filled with humorous scenes, ridiculous interactions, and witty dialogue. It also has the sharp edge of family dynamics, sibling rivalry, and clash of ideals. The story, and its telling, are both familiar and new.
It’s new to hear people speaking Zimbawean. It’s familiar to hear the children of the immigrants say, “We didn’t learn that language.” My grandparents spoke Norwegian to each other, but not to their kids. “You’re American,” they said, “You will speak English.”
It’s new to learn about Zimbabwe culture. It’s familiar to have some traditions from “the old country” interwoven with new traditions found in the “new country,” and for some family members to cling tightly to those traditions, while others want to bury them in the past.
It’s new to learn about immigrants from Zimbabwe, the war and unrest, and their reasons for leaving. It’s familiar to think about my own grandparents who couldn’t make a life in the only home they knew, so they took a risk of going to the unfamiliar new land.
It was familiar to hear how the father never left his home country in his heart and longed to go back, even though it’s not the same, and he’s not the same, and he has a new home, that is sometimes familiar, and sometimes not.
Playwright Danai Gurira (also an actress starring in the film Black Panther) takes these familiar and unfamiliar experiences and puts them into characters who are real and delightful, and just trying to get ready for that infamous groom’s dinner, and wedding. Familiar has everything that a good play needs – humor, heart, and a few surprises. I have never laughed so hard and so often while watching a play. We got to the end of Act I, where the biggest surprises and laughs occur, and my companion said, “The first act flew by!”
Familiar is set in a suburban home in Minnesota. The bride was born in Zimbabwe and brought to the USA with by her parents. They have made a successful life for themselves and their two daughters. Marvelous Chinyaramurindi (Perri Gaffney) is that mother who fiercely loves her children and demands the best out of them. Donald Chinyaramwira (Harvy Blanks) is the father who enjoys many American things, but longs to have made a difference in his home country. Nyasha (Aishe’ Keita) is their younger daughter, the one who wants to be an artist and learn more about her heritage, and challenges her family. Tendi (Sha’ Cage) is their oldest daughter, the bride, who wants a celebration, wants to link the past to the present, wants to feel the blessing of family as she marries Chris, a white man from Minnetonka. Chris (Quinn Franzen) is an altruistic, kind man, who truly loves Tendi. The tender moments between them melt your heart. The humorous moments between them leave you clutching your sides and hiding your face!
Marvelous’ sisters show up to add a little fuel to the fire. Professor Margaret Munyewa (Austene Van) is a force. She’s proud of her nieces, talks back to her sister, and tries to keep the peace. When their older sister Anne Mwarimba (Wandachristine) walks through the door, chaos erupts. She brings the past with her. Chris’ brother Brad (Michael Wieser) tries to save the day, but has his own set of issues to deal with. (I’m snickering to myself as I remember these scenes. Uff-da!)
Go, enjoy yourself and this delightful family in Familiar at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, through April 14, 2018. Wonderfully directed by Taibi Mager, and staged beautifully by scenic designer Adam Rigg, Costumes by Karen Perry, Lighting by Tom Mays, Sound by Scott W. Edwards, and many more people behind the scenes. Applause to all of you.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What is the story of your family?
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Very cool! I spent a month in Zimbabwe during the uprising in 2001, and loved it (the country, not the uprising). Such a gorgeous country, such warm, friendly people. Their suffering broke my heart, but they had so much courage and resilience. Whenever I meet someone with a name like “Blessing” or “Honor,” I know there’s a good chance they’re Zimbabwean.
J, You have had amazing experiences. Thanks for sharing this in your comment. It was a beautiful play, very funny, with serious undertones.