(Photo courtesy of The Hijabi Monologues Facebook page)
(Photo courtesy of The Hijabi Monologues Facebook page)

BY KRISTEN GOLEMBIEWSKI, Staff Writer

The Hijabi Monologues, a performance of skits giving personal voices to the very public and much-debated hijab, is coming to UM-Dearborn.

Founded in 2006 by three Middle Eastern Studies students at the University of Chicago, the name and format of the Monologues are a nod to Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, a project that explores the mystique of female genitalia.

“Unlike the Vagina Monologues, the Hijabi Monologues take something public, that everyone seems to have an opinion about, and gives it a voice,” says Aayat Ali, director of the monologues. “Both are unique and worthy in their own regard, but the Hijabi Monologues are coming from a minority voice – a voice that sometimes does not get heard because of the loudness of violence and stereotypes.”

Ali was inspired to bring the monologues to UM-D because the project emphasizes that everyone woman has a story rather than claiming to be the voice of every Muslim woman.

“As a Muslim, I had never seen this type of empowerment come through a creative/theatrical lens and I felt like it would be a great opportunity to show how just how multifaceted the Muslim community is,” she says.

The Hijabi Monologues do not focus on the hijab itself, but on the stories and experiences of the women who wear them. And while some may think the performances are specifically for Muslim women, Ali believes that all women can relate to the issues the monologues address – which is why she stressed that auditions were open to women of all faiths.

“Although the production is named the Hijabi Monologues, many of the themes are universal to all types of people. I encourage people to step outside and see how similar we all really are,” she says.

According to Ali, about half of the cast is Muslim, with some wearing hijabs and some not. She believes that the project has been a learning experience for women who do and don’t wear the hijab.
Proceeds from the Monologues will be donated to the First Step Project Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services Domestic Violence Department.

“We wanted to give back to the organizations that have done so much in our region,” says Ali.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Student Activities Office, the Office of Inclusion, the Women’s Resource Center, Arab Student Union, the Gay-Straight Alliance, Women in Learning and Leadership, Sociology Club, Students United for Peace and Justice, and the Association of Student Anthropologists.

The Hijabi Monologues will be performed March 23 and 24 in 1500 Social Sciences Building. The Friday performance will run from 7 p.m.–10 p.m. and the Saturday performance will run from 6 p.m.– 9p.m. A post-performance discussion will follow each show. Pre-sale tickets are available for $8 at the CIViC; tickets will be $10 at the door.

For more information, email aayata@umd.umich.edu.

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