Rehan Ansari and Ping Chong + Company: Theatrical Duet

Rehan Ansari and Ping Chong + Company:
Theatrical Duet

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
7 to 9pm

Rehan Ansari,  PECHS (Society) Cemetery , 2011. [Image Description: A photo of a cemetery with white marble planters in which small plants and rose bushes grow. There are trees scattered throughout and several structures made of four columns and small, flat roofs.]

Rehan Ansari, PECHS (Society) Cemetery, 2011. [Image Description: A photo of a cemetery with white marble planters in which small plants and rose bushes grow. There are trees scattered throughout and several structures made of four columns and small, flat roofs.]

Rubin Foundation grantee Ping Chong + Company presented an excerpt of its recent performance project Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity in dialogue with artist Rehan Ansari whose play Unburdened is featured in Enacting Stillness. Ping Chong + Company's Beyond Sacred is part of Undesirable Elements, an ongoing series of interview-based theater works examining issues of culture, identity and difference in the lives of individuals in specific communities. There have been over 50 productions in the series since 1992. Presented as a chamber piece of story-telling, a "seated opera for the spoken word," these performances are tailored to suit the needs and issues facing specific communities. With his background in investigative reporting, Ansari's play Unburdened was developed through research methods stemming from journalistic practice. The evening featured readings from each script, followed by a panel discussion featuring panelists Rehan Ansari, Associate Director of Ping Chong + Company Sara Zatz, Beyond Sacred cast member Maha Syed, and moderator Rubin Foundation Artistic Director Sara Reisman. The excerpt of Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity was read by Tiffany Yasmin Abdelghani, Ferdous Dehqan, Kadin Herring, Amir Khafagy, and Maha Syed, who are telling their own true stories. The excerpt of Unburdened was read by Charlie Gillette, Mia Darrow Tarley, and Rehan Ansari.


Rehan Ansari (Playwright and Performer) is a Brooklyn-based writer. Born in Karachi and a graduate of Vassar College, Ansari was working as a journalist in New York during 9/11 and in Mumbai during the attacks of 2008. He traveled to Pakistan in the aftermath of both events and Unburdened is based on his experiences. His work has appeared in The Brooklyn RailThe Globe & Mail, and as a weekly columnist for Mid-day Mumbai. He was Editor of The Independent Press Association-New York and Foreign Editor of the Daily News & Analysis in Mumbai. Ansari's play Damme This is the Oriental Scene for You! (adapted from the writings of G.V. Desani) was staged at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. He is currently working on a novel.

Charlie Gillette (Performer) is an actor and filmmaker based in New York City. She has performed at the Royal Court and Gate Theatre in London and The Richard Burton Theatre and Caird Studio in Cardiff. She has been featured in various short and feature films, which have screened in festivals around the world. She holds a BA in Film from Barnard College and a MA in Acting from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the UK. Her film work has been featured in Paper MagazineBullett Media, Pitchfork, Women &, The Athena Film FestivalEveryday FeminismThe Hollywood Reporter, and Upworthy. Most recently, she wrote, produced and starred in the feature film These Things Never Last. You can learn more about Gillette and her work at

Mia Darrow Tarley (Performer) is an actor living in New York City. Tarley graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She attended the William E. Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York and currently studies with The Barrow Group and Kimball Studio. She also writes songs, makes music videos, and collects vintage clothing. She is grateful to be a part of this important work.


Ping Chong + Company produces theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity. The company was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong + Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice.

Sara Zatz (Co-Writer of Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identityis the Associate Director of Ping Chong + Company and co-writer of Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity.Since 2002, she has overseen Ping Chong + Company’s community engagement work, including the Undesirable Elements project, a series of interview-based theater works exploring issues of culture, identity, and difference in the lives of individuals in specific communities. She has had the honor of interviewing hundreds of individuals from around the world, served as lead artistic collaborator on over a dozen productions, and hasoverseen the creation of an in-school arts education program and training institute to share the methodology of Undesirable Elements with other artists and community members.She has spoken and presented workshops on community-engaged theater at many conferences and universities.

Tiffany Yasmin Abdelghani (Perfomer) was raised in Florida and Georgia, and is of Trinidadian descent. She is pursuing her Associate's Degree at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, NY.

Ferrous Dehqan (Performer) is originally from Afghanistan. He is currently attending SUNY Binghamton, studying pre-law (Political Science Major). He wants to practice public interest law.

Kadin Herring (Performer) is originally from South Carolina and is of Trinidadian and African American descent. He is a visual storyteller and cultural curator in New York.

Amir Khafagy (Performer) is originally from Jackson Heights, Queens, and is of Puerto Rican and Egyptian heritage. He is a Masters student in Urban Studies at Queens College, and is currently participating in the New York Union Semester at CUNY's Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

Maha Syed (Performer) is Pakistani-American. She was raised internationally, living in over a dozen countries throughout her childhood. She has a Master of International Affairs (MIA), Human Rights, Gender Policy, South Asia from Columbia University, and is the Director of Programs at an economic development nonprofit community organization in Queens.