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Country: United Kingdom
Born and raised in London, England, Rohina Malik is a Chicago-based playwright and solo performance artist. Of South Asian descent, Rohina uses her cultural background as a continuing source of inspiration for her work. Her first one woman play, Unveiled, received high acclaim for its emotional portraits of five Muslim women living in the West. The Chicago Tribune called her play a “terrific show…[an] intellectually engrossing work of theatre,”1 and the Chicago Examiner described it as a “compelling 70-minute piece rich with illuminating surpirsies, drawing the audience into worlds that both unique and truly universal.”2
Unveiled tells the stories of five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world as a series of monologues. Each character reflects the diverse range and depth of Muslim women who wear the headscarf in the West. One character is a Texan mother living in the American South and another is a teen immersed in hip-hop culture who is raised in West London.3 The play begins with a Pakistani wedding dress designer describing the ritual of brewing tea as an essential element in getting to know her clients, and this motif of tea making extends throughout the entire narrative, becoming a critical metaphor for each woman’s culture. In weaving together the disparate and yet shared problems and joys of living as a Muslim woman, the play tackles hate crimes, hospitality, fear, violence, love, language, and Islam in an effort to reveal the diverse reasons why individual women claim the veil as a source of empowerment.
Rohina describes writing as a “mysterious experience,” one which is often “messy.” She says, “The seed for my plays usually comes from a word, a sentence that someone casually says. I listen carefully to the side remarks, the stuff people say that they think is insignificant, that’s where I start to dig for treasure.”4 She believes in the transformative powers of art as a means of personal and social resolution. “I write because it’s my way of solving problems. Art, in its many forms, has the power to solve world problems. That’s why I believe we should do everything we can to nurture and protect it.” 5
She has also written two other plays entitled, “The Mecca Tales” and “Yasmina’s Necklace (El Collar de Yasmin).” 6