Friday, December 9, 2011

5 Questions With Yasmine Rana

On Sunday, December 11, 2011, we will have an evening of one-act plays. Two of those plays will be by Yasmine Rana. The 14th play in our FORUM reading series is HOW I THOUGHT THE MILONGA WOULD SAVE ME and the 15th is BLASPHEME. These plays will be presented on Sunday, December 11, 7:00pm, at Fairleigh Dickinson, Dreyfuss Theatre in Madison, NJ.

Yasmine's book The War Zone is My Bed and Other Plays was published this year by Seagull Books and University of Chicago Press. Other publications include Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, and TDR The Drama Review. The title play of the book, The War Zone is My Bed was recently produced in Los Angeles at Write Act Repertory Theater.

1. What inspired you to write How I Thought the Milonga Would Save Me & Blaspheme?
I studied Argentinian tango several years ago, enjoyed it, but later quit due to the time constraints life presents. Last year, I returned to tango with what I hoped would be a deeper commitment to learning this dance. I would attend milongas to practice and met many interesting partners, dance partners of course. The experience began to resemble personal relationships, particularly the idea of revealing a different side of oneself for a different partner; some preferred the close embrace while others the open one, though the close embracers were the majority of dance partners I had. Sadly, I have quit tango again and have now taken up boxing, perhaps as a result of tangoing. Maybe my next play will be about a boxer who also does the tango.

I wrote Blaspheme after Milonga. Though I do love the comedy discovered in romantic entanglements, my home base as a writer is human rights issues. I wanted to explore an interrogation and was intrigued by the notion of single word as the source of a blasphemous charge.

On further reflection I saw both plays as a dance: the former a dance of pleasure and a quest in seeking the "ideal" partner, and the latter being a dance for survival.

2. Can you tell us a little about your job as a registered drama therapist?
In addition to being a creative arts therapist, I am an English as a Second Language teacher, and it's been wonderful incorporating creative drama into language learning. The joy has been hearing my students respond to a piece of literature we read in class; there's a sense of gratitude in having read a particular work that is now part of their history as learners. As a writer, I've meditated on the meaning of gratitude and how it is a part of my craft and being: I am grateful to theater companies, directors, actors, publishers, and audience members for having given me their time and sometimes their trust.

3. How has working with refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Georgia and Switzerland played a role in your writing?
Although it's been twelve years since my time in Sarajevo, I know my experience practicing drama therapy in that environment is embedded in my writing. What I took away from that journey was a profound respect for resiliency and for the desire to uphold human dignity even in the most calamitous circumstances.

4. What do you enjoy most about being a playwright?
What I enjoy most about being a playwright is hearing and seeing the different interpretations of my work. I've heard actors and directors from the United States and Europe present my plays and each production or reading is a bit of an epiphany for me

5. If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
I have just finished teaching my high school ESL students Ernest J. Gaines' quiet masterpiece A Lesson Before Dying. To me, Gaines' work is a meditation on equality and justice, with basic humanity at the core of everything. If I possessed superpowers I would eradicate injustice.

Click here to purchase a ticket to see HOW I THOUGHT THE MILONGA WOULD SAVE ME and BLASPHEME at FDU.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.

$10 per reading
$25 for a FORUM pass (if you are going to attend at least 3 readings in the series---this is the best deal)

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Rana is an exciting new voice on the theatre scene. Her recent play "The War Zone is My Bed" is beautiful and fearless. Her voice is smart and sexy. A new work by Rana is an event.