A Feminist Perspective of Islam and Its Explosive Consequences at the Theater of Heilbronn

“As is often the case in the theater, references are made while watching”: Sarah Finkel and Stefan Eichberg are the daughter and father of the four-person play Who and What. Photo: Mario Berger Photo: Berger, Mario

A widowed father and two older daughters. Afzal, the head of the family, is originally from Pakistan and made his way to become a successful taxi entrepreneur in the southern United States, in Atlanta.

On the one hand, liberal Muslims have rigid ideas about religion on the other. And what should look like the husband of his daughters. For Zarina, an older woman, is better looking for a female candidate online at muslimlove.com without her knowledge.

With Who and What, Ayad Akhtar wrote a play on the contradictions of cultural identity, negotiating the relationship of Islam to the role of women in society, but also a call to love. A well-made play, the essential conflict that Shakespeare reminds us of “The Taming of the Shrew” highlights conflicting questions – and is entertaining at the same time.

The German-language premiere premiered in San Diego in 2014, followed by the German-language premiere in Hamburg in 2017, and Kai Schick is now directing “Who and What” at the Heilbronner Theatre. The four-person play is performed on Saturdays at the Great House.

As an actor, these scenes just jump in your face.

good playing? A term that has appeared over and over again during training times. “I didn’t know him yet,” Stefan Eichberg says. Well-made pieces, preferably from the English- and French-speaking world, which means not only well-written, but so clear in their structure that it’s fun. “As an actor, these scenes are stark,” Eichberg says, better on stage. Eichberg compares Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning text to the “You Can Play” result.

“The best thing in my life is my daughters,” says Best. And what does Stefan Eichberg, the father of his daughter, say? “I love my daughter and want her to be happy. And that’s key – in this play too.” “However, Zarina is doing something in which it is not best in keeping with his faith and traditions,” Eichberg explains.

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The questions that the daughter asks are pure blasphemy on the father

She is writing a book, not a fiction book but a fiction, that depicts Muhammad as a human being. He asks whether the theological doctrines of Islam do not stem from a misinterpretation of Muhammad’s life. When Afzal gets his daughter’s manuscript in his hands, a scandal erupts. The questions Zarina asks are blasphemous to her father. Zarina refuses.

“It’s about freedom and self-determination,” says Sarah Finkel. She plays the eldest daughter. Finkel’s relationship with her father in real life? “I have a wonderful stepfather who does everything to make me feel good – and he still takes care of me today.”

I hope your parents have your back

Even as an adult, you hope “your parents will support you. This is also Zarina’s hope and problem.” On stage, Zarina falls in love with Ellie, an American who converted to Islam. Eli is in charge of a mosque according to his father-in-law’s taste.

“The amazing updates we didn’t want to highlight,” says Sarah Finkel. In Iran, not only have women been taking to the streets to protest for days – and outside of Iran there is also great horror after the death of Masha Amini. The young Kurdish woman was arrested and beaten by the Islamic morality police because her headscarf was not appropriate. Amini later died in hospital. “It’s my jelly,” Finkel says.

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The images that form in the mind

In the role of “Better,” Eichberg warns his daughter that if what she intends to write comes out, Zarina will not feel safe in Afghanistan or the United States. After the assassination of Salman Rushdie, “images appeared that we had not thought during the first rehearsals before the theater break.”

The two actors agree that “as often happens in the theater, the cues are made during the viewing – without intermittent investigation.” “You have to be careful, lest you turn the piece into a problem and forget the humor,” says Eichberg. “Since then in particular, ‘Who and What’ is not an exclusively foreign culture story,” Finkel adds.

Stefan Eichberg finds the themes of tradition, religion, the role of women in Islam, patriarchy, loyalty and respect packed into a family story. He is happy to “go out on stage with her.”

Who and what about love

And what about the path? It is also the title of the book Zarina writes about who Muhammed was and what he made of the tradition. It refers to a quote by the philosopher Jacques Derrida on the relationship between who and what is in love.


“Who and what”

scene from more hands

Guidance: Kai imminent

The theater: Tom Much

special costumes: Cornelia Kraske

the first show: Saturday, 7.30 pm, Heilbronn Theatre, Big House

play it: Stefan Eichberg, Sarah Finkel, Romy Klotzel, Arlene Konitz.

for someoneWriter, playwright and actor Iyad Akhtar, born in New York in 1970 to Pakistani parents, studied theater at Brown University. His talk show Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Play in 2013, was nominated for a Tony Award and was voted Best Foreign Play of 2016 by Theater heute magazine.

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