Joel: You have won many awards for They Call Me Q. What will Fringe attendees see when they you perform your show?
Qurrat: I’m so excited to perform my solo play,They Call Me Q! at Capital Fringe 2013! I’ve been performing the show since September at other festivals in Chicago, Maui, Orlando, Montreal, and NYC so this is my final out of town stop this year before performing at FringeNYC, and I can’t wait! July 18-21, Fringe attendees will see a show that I’ve had so much opportunity to “perfect”. Every performance brings me new insight to finding the truth of a character. In June when I performed in Montreal, I finally figured out the timing of a couple of jokes so now they land consistently – it’s all about delivery!
You play 13 characters. Which character(s) is most like you and why?
Playing 13 characters is definitely challenging but so exciting. Recently, audiences have been telling me that they are attracted to the heart and soul of the piece. The main character, Q, is based on me. Many times, I talk directly to the audience and it’s important that I allow myself to be vulnerable, laugh at myself and express what my journey was like. Among the other 12 characters, I definitely can relate to the teenage Henna artist because she is so sweet – she reminds me of being young, of hearing stories, and feeling like every interaction is full of intrigue.
Have you ‘found yourself’ yet or are you still on your journey?
They Call Me Q is a play about the journey of life. I am still on mine, I’m still finding myself. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, in a routine, and it’s only when you try to find the meaning behind someone entering your life that life becomes magical. I wrote a play about people in my life who impacted me. Every time I perform, I remember something new about them. I gain some new insight on myself.
Have you ever mixed up your characters during a performance and what is the biggest challenge performing the show?
Thankfully, I have never mixed up characters during a performance! I have drilled all the character changes, both vocally and physically, especially to avoid this problem! Playing multiple characters is partly about muscle memory – you drill, and the body and voice changes without you even having to think about it. It’s amazing! In fact, the biggest challenge is just this – in a 60 minute show with 13 characters, I have to keep the pacing up, timing just right, hit my marks, get my laughs and tears, and make sure the honesty of the play remains. Oh, and drink tea with honey before and after the show!
Has your family seen your show and what was their reaction?
My brother Obaid is one of the directors along with my friend from high school Claudia, so they’ve both seen it a million times! My mom, Fareeda, saw it in November when I performed in NYC. She sat in the front row and was smiling and nodding as I complimented her Indian cooking. My dad, Arif, saw it in March at a Benefit Performance for a non-profit organization and he said he really loved it too! It was really hot in the theatre so I couldn’t tell if he was sweating or crying! He forwards my show info to all his friends and it’s great to be supported by family!
Why did you want to bring the show to Capital Fringe?
Performing in Washington, DC is so special to me. My last visit was in 2007 when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. When I heard there was a Fringe Festival in DC, I signed up immediately. I have a lot of high school friends who are going to come and I just love our nation’s capital! I’m checking off one more item from my Bucket List!
What have been some of the reactions audience members have said to you after the show that moved you the most?
I have actual quotes from audiences and here are some that have moved me. There are so many to choose from – full reviews can be seen here.
“Best show ever in English. Out of the plane moments – I think you have all the people who are from abroad in this moment. It’s the kind of play where you want to say, thank you.” – Fofi, Montreal Fringe Festival 2013.
“I’m Haitian but I live in Brooklyn. I thought the show was excellent, engaging, I’ve never felt like this before. I feel like this should be on HBO or somewhere major.” – Johnny, NYC Benefit Performance for A Slice of Hope 2013.
“I thought the show was really fantastic. It’s fun and at the same time beautiful – it’s relevant culturally and politically. It’s beautiful that you show people the human side and that we’re all really the same.” -Eunice, Orlando Fringe Festival 2013.
“Beautiful, very well done! This is very unique, the history reminds all of us, what we went through, what our children went through and where they stand right now. I’m very proud of the show!” –Mr. Jatrani, NYC Benefit Performance for Lend-A-Hand India.
“I’m not a big theatre guy but I’m glad I came! I was impressed. I’m Black Hawaiian and there weren’t many Blacks where I was raised. I was teased and I could relate. There’s stereotypes everywhere and the play speaks to many people.” -Lee Ho’omana, Maui Fringe Festival 2013.
“Cultural differences and similarities. Racism. Bullies. Family. Identity. Religion. Self love and hate. So much to respond to…your voice needs to be heard…and I am glad it’s happening, especially in this country right now.” –Jen DiOrio, NYC Special Event for The Inspired Word 2013.
What do you want audiences to take with them when they leave your show?
I wrote this play because I’m an immigrant- I’m the child of immigrants. To be an immigrant is to dream. To dream big. My story is that no matter what we go through- the highs and lows in life- the dream is still there. We can do anything- we can create the life that we want- and that reality is so inspiring to me. I hope that my audiences leave the theatre feeling the same way about themselves too!
Proclaimed “A Theatrical Force” by the Orlando Weekly for her uncanny embodiment of 13(!) characters, award-winning actress Qurrat Ann Kadwani searches for identity in They Call Me Q! an autobiographical one-woman show. This emotionally affecting tour-de-force is fueled by her “remarkable ear for vocal mimicry.” A coming of age tale, that the Montreal Gazette says is “witty, polished, inspiring,” They Call Me Q! entertains with tremendous humor and compelling emotion with BeyondCriticism.com stating it is “a jazzy gem, in the ranks of John Leguizamo, Spalding Gray, Camryn Manheim.” In the course of the one hour play, Ms. Kadwani portrays characters based on her traditional Indian parents, Caucasian teachers, Puerto Rican classmates, African-American friends and various Indian women. Through the character of Q, Ms. Kadwani gives voice to all the universal struggles for identity and self-understanding that are experienced by immigrants of all nationalities. Charlebois Post wrote, “Highly entertaining and engaging. Kadwani’s amazing presence and delivery definitely makes her a force to be reckoned with.” Best Actress Winner: NYC Variations Theatre Group Harvest Festival 2012. Best Play Winner Maui Fringe Festival 2013.
At Gearbox, 1021 7th St NW, 3rd Floor, in Washington D.C.
Thursday, July 18th at 10:00 pm,
Saturday, July 20th at 1:00 pm,
Sunday, July 21st at 7:45 pm.
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.
A one-woman play written and performed by Qurrat Ann Kadwani who appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.
Directed by: Obaid Kadwani and Claudia Gaspar
Developed with: Ellery Schaar
Sound/Costume Designer: Claudia Gaspar