Monroe area residents experienced an emotional take on one woman’s journey to self-acceptance.
“They Call Me Q,” the first solo play starring a South Asian female, was performed at the Meyer Theater on Oct. 2.
“They Call Me Q” is a one-hour show where Qurrat Kadwani plays 13 different characters, all showing her experience as an immigrant.
“I was born in India but grew up in the Bronx,” Kadwani wrote in an email.
“So I play characters of all ethnicities to show the challenges I faced.”
“It’s funny, it’s dramatic, and there are lots of themes connected to identity – bullying, suicide, friendship, family, travel, self-love, and acceptance.”
However, when seeing “They Call Me Q”, Kadwani wishes for viewers to understand that all immigrants have different experiences.
“We throw the word ‘immigrant’ around a lot, but my parents’ experience is different from my brothers’ which is different from mine.”
Additionally, Kadwani hopes her show can help people understand many aspects of being an immigrant.
“I wanted to explore that space when you feel you don’t belong in the traditional culture or the American culture,” she said.
Kadwani hopes viewers learn more about diversity in their own lives, based on the characters she embodies.
“When we talk about diversity, we are really talking about appreciating each other’s differences and finding our similarities,” she said.
“Many of the characters I play will remind you of people in your own life – transcending culture and background. I hope viewers will learn how we are so connected by the emotions we have, our traumas and also our successes!”
Some of the 13 characters she plays include her mother, father, classmates, friends, and a street vendor.
“You won’t be able to tell I’m the only person on stage because of all the different characters I play,” Kadwani said.
As this is a one woman show, Kadwani explains how it feels to be the only person performing on stage.
“I have to rely on myself to be entertaining! I have to function at a very high level because there’s no other actor to help me,” she said. “But I love it!”
Kadwani began writing “They Call Me Q” because of the lack of diversity in Hollywood and Broadway, and a desire to share her story with the world.
“I started writing it because there was a lack of opportunity for ethnic actors — specifically South Asian actors. I have always been the type of person to create my own opportunities and to continue to work hard to achieve my dreams. I decided it was the right time to tell my story and let people see my talents.”
Kadwani hopes to make a difference through her play and create an understanding among people.
“I take pride in imparting a positive message and encouraging a conversation about what diversity really means.”
Lack of diversity was also a challenge that Kadwani had to face when launching her career as an actress and writer.
“There were no South Asian actors on TV or on Broadway in America when I started,” she said. “Nobody was writing roles for us. I couldn’t get work.”
To combat this, Kadwani started her own non-profit arts organization so she could work with diverse casts.
Kadwani visited MCCC Oct. 2 on a college tour. She finds that visiting colleges is very important and helps spread the themes from her plays to students.
“It’s important to continue to spread the message of self-acceptance and acceptance of others,” she said. “We are bombarded by negative messages from our media and politicians, sometimes family and friends as well.”
However, Kadwani is not only passionate about diversity and presenting “They Call Me Q.” She has also written another solo play entitled Intrusion.
In this play, she plays eight characters in one hour. Kadwani hopes Intrusion starts a conversation about the systemic problem of sexual violence in the world.
“I hope to inspire survivors of sexual violence to speak up and also to educate audiences about the intricacy of rape culture so that we all can create social change,” Kadwani wrote.
Beyond her two plays, Kadwani is expanding her career by working as an actress in New York City.
Also keeping Kadwani busy is her commitment to charitable work. She has been the master of ceremonies at many events for non-profit organizations, including the World Women’s Global Council at the United Nations.
According to her website, Kadwani also coordinates an annual philanthropic project, “A Slice of Hope,” as well as an annual Echoes Of Love: Suicide Prevention Fundraiser.
Kadwani is proud to have performed “They Call Me Q” 200 times in 36 states.
“I’ve been touring ‘They Call Me Q’ for six years,” she said. “It’s been Off-Broadway, and I get to travel, so it’s really been a dream come true!”