The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University is partnering with McCarter Theatre to present a workshop reading and symposium on Hoodwinked, a new documentary-style drama by acclaimed playwright Emily Mann, on Saturday, April 26 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required, however seating is limited. Hoodwinked begins from the 2009 shooting on an Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, and goes on to explore the global implications of radical Islam in various political contexts. The play was created by McCarter Theatre’s Artistic Director Emily Mann from interviews, transcripts, and other primary sources. Inspired by questions, confusion, and misinformation that circulated in the media after the Fort Hood massacre, Hoodwinked explores radical Islam/Islamism and the dangers this extremist ideology can pose not only to western nations but also to moderate/traditional Muslims around the world. The play uses an experimental dramatic structure to weave together scenes inspired by real conversations, speeches, video, and performance of primary text and is designed to be a catalyst for discussion and political action. The workshop reading will be performed by professional actors and directed by Mann. The symposium after the reading will include a keynote address by British-Pakistani activist Maajid Nawaz, Executive Director of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. A panel responding to Nawaz’s remarks and to the issues the play raises about radical Islamism, hate speech, and related global issues will include Ambassador Barbara Bodine of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, who spent 30 years in diplomacy around the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf region; Professor Amos Guiora of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah and author of Tolerating Intolerance: The Price of Protecting Extremism (Oxford University Press, 2014); and Usaama al-Azami, a graduate student in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton. The day will conclude with a panel discussion on political theater with artists and critics including Mann; playwright and performer Heather Raffo (author of 9 Parts of Desire); playwright Dominique Morisseau (author of Sunset Baby and Detroit ’67); and Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director of Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C. The panel will be moderated by Jill Dolan, Annan Professor in English, Professor of Theater, and Director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton. Throughout the day’s events, moderators will encourage interactive discussion with the audience. The symposium will also involve Princeton students currently enrolled in Dolan’s course on dramaturgy, which is focusing on the continued development of Hoodwinked. Students have had unprecedented access to Mann’s process, and have contributed to her continued work by providing research, feedback, and reactions to drafts in progress. Students also observed rehearsals for the workshop reading and are creating contextual dramaturgical materials for the play, which include actor resource guides, audience resource materials, program notes, and other enhancements to deepen the experience of the play for performers and audience members. “We’re hoping the reading and the panels will be provocative across viewpoints,” notes Dolan, “And spur the audience toward deeper thinking about the issues addressed.”
Mann is known internationally for her award-winning work as a theatre artist. For over three decades, she has explored political issues and watershed historical moments in her influential Theatre of Testimony style of playwriting, of which Hoodwinked is the latest evolution. Mann is in her 24th season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre, where she has overseen over 125 productions. Under Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Mann’s plays include Execution of Justice; Still Life; Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; and Annulla, An Autobiography. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth. A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, was published by Theatre Communications Group. Her play, Mrs. Packard, was the recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and was published by Theatre Communications Group in 2009. Mann’s adaptations include three Chekhov plays (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and a free adaptation of The Seagull: A Seagull in the Hamptons) and The House of Bernarda Alba. She has also adapted Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage for New York Theater Workshop, which will premiere this fall. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was named the 2011 Person of the Year by the National Theatre Conference. Major support for the development of Hoodwinked has been provided by the National Foundation for the Arts. The reading and symposium are made possible by the Lewis Center for the Arts, McCarter Theatre Center, the Princeton University Council on the Humanities, the Princeton University Department of English, Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, and the Princeton University Community-Based Learning Initiative.