Meet Osamah Sami the writer, lead actor and real-life subject of Good Muslim Boy. Currently playing at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC South Brisbane until the 4th of August 2018.
I had the great fortune to watch this entertaining and timely production on its opening night, Saturday 14th of July. Directed by Janice Muller, Osamah shares his life journey on stage. Raw and in the flesh Osamah lets us walk alongside him as he takes on the task of putting his father's body to rest. We're invited to see through a son's eyes, the impact a father's sacrifices and devotion to family and faith.
Osamah (Osamah Sami) grew up in Melbourne but first lived through the grim consequences of the political turmoil of the Middle East. His father (played byRodney Afif), an important Islamic Cleric in Melbourne is well respected in the community and an exemplary human. When the complaints of Osamah's unconventional behaviour reach his ears, coupled with his own concerns for the downward turn Osamah life has taken, he decides to book a Father and Son trip back home.
The trip to Iran does not go at all as expected. His father lovingly tries to bond with him, get him back in touch with his roots, reconnect with his faith or at the very least to just be present in the , however,Osamah however misses the point as he is far more concerned with finding cell service. Tragically, it's during this trip that death takes Osamah's father.
Osamah is grief-stricken, overseas and alone in a system he doesn't understand, battling against a ticking clock that is counting down to his visa expiring. He reflects on his life and his father's lessons as he struggles through impossible bureaucratic paper hoops, drug-dealing cabbies, scammers and even a long cold night on the street.
What this production give us is a glimpse of what it is like to grow up with the name Osamah, brown skin and faith. Also, in contrast, to have grown up in Australia and look very much like a local in Iran. It gives a voice to people you may not normally relate to, highlighting our mutual humanity.
After all, regardless of how we all arrived here or where we are from, we are all the fundamentally the same. His interactions through it all serves as a reminder that we are all deserving and capable of respect, kindness and understanding. His father was a great example of a compassionate person. He seemed to care enough to try and understand his son instead of holding judgement or shunning him.
I found the play to be moving, funny and full of heart. Osamah Sami didn't need to learn the backstory of his character because he lived through it. The power of conveying this story through the authentic vessel is that it loaded it with additional empathy. There were no moments of seeing him as just a character. What we saw was a man reliving moments that shaped his life. Nicole Nabout and Rodney Afif played numerous support characters that rapidly morphed scene to scene. Both pivotal, showing outstanding range throughout. Nicole beating her chest as she cried out in despair playing a lady grieving a child felt far too real. Rodney Afif shined as Osamah's father. The set design was impressive and brilliantly deceiving. It too rapidly morphed during each scene able to transform to any place it needed to be.
I cannot say I am surprised to find such a story on the Queensland Theatre list, it is completely in line with their streak of pertinent themes of diversity, society and human nature. I feel like I am always saying this and perhaps I am, but once again very well done Queensland Theatre. You are once again on the right track and in tune with our universal struggles, our hearts and soul needs.
Osamah may not have followed in his father's footsteps or even been a good Muslim boy but I feel his father would be proud of him and of his show.
"This why I wanted to tell my story. Not to show my plight as a kid during the war, but to hopefully (inshallah) act as a conduit between your kind selves and a people who are otherwise only talked about, and rarely heard from. Emotions don't discriminate against our skin colour or faith. If you showed me a close-up photograph of tears rolling down someone's face, there is no way I could label them as 'Muslim tears' or 'Jewish tears' or 'African tears' or 'gay tears' or you get the drift," he said. "Thank you to Malthouse Theatre and Queensland Theatre for putting on show about a guy whose skin colour is mostly seen on cop shows."Osamah Sami
Fun Fact: If you love the play there is also a book!
GOOD MUSLIM BOY Queensland Theatre and Malthouse Theatre co-production
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Thursday, 12 July Saturday, 4 August
Tickets at queenslandtheatre.com.au or 1800 355 528
CAST: Osamah Sami as Osamah Sami Rodney Afif as several characters Nicole Nabout as several characters
Written by: Osamah Sami Adapted for the stage by: Osamah Sami and Janice Muller Director: Janice Muller Designer: Romanie Harper Lighting Designer Ben Hughes Composer/Sound Designer: Phill Slade