(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages will present the New Jersey premiere of Rohina Malik’s Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated play Yasmina’s Necklace at Kean University in Union September 5-22. Previously presented at the 16th Street Theater and Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Yasmina’s Necklace tells the story of Abdul Samee. Abdul’s father is Iraqi and mother is Puerto Rican - but if you ask him, he'll say he's Italian.
Longing to shed his cultural identity, Abdul changes his name to Sam, marries an American and does everything in his power to turn away from his heritage. But when Sam meets Yasmina, a beautiful woman from his father's homeland, he begins to learn that a tree without roots cannot stand for long.
Led by acclaimed guest director Kareem Fahmy, Premiere’s production will feature an accomplished professional company of actors, including Layan Elwazani, Maplewood resident Eliud Kauffman, Robert Manning, Jr., Haythem Noor, Peter Romano, Cesar J. Rosado and Socorro Santiago.
Born and raised in London, England, of South Asian heritage, Ms. Malik is a critically acclaimed, award-winning Chicago playwright and solo performance artist. Her work has been produced at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago Dramatists and Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, among others. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Ms. Malik is the 2018 recipient of the Lee Reynolds Award, given annually to a woman active in any aspect of theatre whose work has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change.
A Canadian-born director of Egyptian descent, Mr. Fahmy is the co-founder of Maia Directors, a consulting group for organizations and artists engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. He previously directed the New York and New Jersey premieres of Ms. Malik’s The Mecca Tales at Voyage Theater Company and Crossroads. He will make his Off-Broadway debut this fall with the world premiere of Clarence Coo's On That Day in Amsterdam at Primary Stages.
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“Rohina has deftly layered humor into her thoroughly compelling story about characters who are challenged to contemplate the lessons of the past as they navigate their worlds toward a better tomorrow,” stated Premiere Stages producing artistic director John J. Wooten. “We couldn't be more excited to be producing the New Jersey premiere of this beautiful and important play.”
The blockbuster cast includes Layan Elwazani, recently seen on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning The Band’s Visit; Eliud Kauffman, whose film and television credits include NBC’s “The Blacklist”; Robert Manning, Jr., also previously seen on Broadway in Magic/Bird; Haythem Noor, who recently appeared on CBS’s “Madam Secretary”; Peter Romano, whose international theatre credits include the African tour of Antigone in the World; Cesar J. Rosado, whose distinguished regional credits include last season’s production of El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom at Two River Theater in Red Bank; and Socorro Santiago, currently appearing in the New York premiere of Mojada at the renowned Public Theater.
Audience members are invited to engage more deeply with Ms. Malik’s thought-provoking play in Premiere’s free talkbacks following select matinee performances. Patrons can learn more about the creative process at designated Artist Talks, or dive into the issues and themes of the show with community leaders and local experts at Community Connections. Featured speakers include Dr. Mahjabeen Hasan (Saturday, September 14); Atiya Aftab of the Sisterhood of Salaam/Shalom (Sunday, September 15); and Imam Sohaib N. Sultan, Chaplain of Princeton University (Saturday, September 21). Dates and speakers are subject to change; please call 908-737-4077 for an updated schedule of post-show events and speakers. Premiere will also offer a series of informal pre-show talks every Saturday evening 30 minutes prior to performance in the lobby of the theatre.
Tickets are also available for Premiere Stages’ exclusive Yasmina’s Necklace opening night party on Friday, September 6. This event features a pre-show party with wine, hors d’oeuvres, live music and breathtaking views of the New York City skyline in Kean’s North Avenue Academic Building event space, reserved seating for the performance and a post-show champagne toast and dessert reception with the cast. Tickets for this exclusive event are $65, and may be purchased by calling 908-737-7469 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yasmina’s Necklace runs September 5-22 in the Bauer Boucher Theatre Center on the Kean University main campus in Union, N.J. Performances take place select Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm; please note that the 8:00pm performance on Thursday, September 12 will now take place at 11 am to accommodate area students. Tickets are $30 standard, $20 for senior citizens and Kean alumni and staff, and $15 for students and patrons with disabilities. Significant discounts for groups of eight or more apply. To make reservations or to order a season brochure, please call the box office at 908-737-7469 or visit Premiere Stages online at www.premierestagesatkean.com.
Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Sign-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available upon request; please call 908-737-4077 at least two weeks prior to your desired performance.
Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit www.JerseyArts.com for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.
IMAGES: (TOP) Premiere Stages will present Yasmina’s Necklace by Rohina Malik September 5-22 at Kean University. Art by Chris Holden. (BOTTOM) Playwright Rohina Malik. Photo by Bogdan Nastase.