‘Hoodwinked” — McCarter Theater artistic director and celebrated American playwright Emily Mann’s documentary-style exploration of the 2009 Fort Hood army base shootings and Islamist extremism — is set for a McCarter Lab Spotlight presentation running Thursday through Sunday, January 28 through 31.
Mann explains the genesis of the work in a statement: “I was first drawn to investigate the 2009 Fort Hood shooting given the obfuscation of the event as it came out in the news. The FBI thought to characterize the events as workplace violence and psychologically driven, instead of an act of Jihad.
“As I dug deeper, I discovered a wide-spread lack of understanding in America regarding Islamist extremism and how it functions. Unlike past religious movements, Jihadism is taking place on every continent in a globalized world with a 24-hour news cycle, and has therefore become everyone’s crisis. The response to Jihadist violence tends to be one of two things — anti-Muslim bigotry or an attempt to completely divorce extremist Islamism from Islam in order to combat Islamophobia. This play attempts to address what Islamist extremism actually is, to truly understand it, so we can all, as a nation — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — combat it together.
“In the case of Hoodwinked, I have taken the ‘Theater of Testimony’ style one step further by following the performance with a connected discussion. By diving deeper into the source material with a number of highly-informed experts on the subjects at hand, the second part of each evening becomes as important as the work itself. Hoodwinked may be about the 21st century’s responses to Islamist extremism, but it’s also very much about direct conversation.”
The discussions will be led by panels of experts. Speakers include the following:
Thursday, January 28
Dr. Amaney A. Jamal, professor of politics at Princeton University, director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, director of the Workshop on Arab Political Development, and president of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies.
Dr. Hussein Rashid, founder of islamicate, L3C (a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency) and a writer who appears regularly on mainstream media.
Dr. John R. Haines, trustee of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), director of FPRI’s Princeton Committee, and author of the book “A Perfect Storm Ahead? An Exploration of the Risk of Nuclear Terrorism.”
Friday, January 29
Dr. Celene Ibrahim, an Islamic studies scholar-in-residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School and Muslim chaplain for Tufts University
Graeme Wood, an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations whose March, 2015, Atlantic article “What ISIS Really Wants” was the most-read article on any subject in any magazine in 2015.
Saturday, January 30
2 p.m.: Cole Bunzel, PhD candidate in Near Eastern studies at Princeton University who has written extensively on ISIS and al-Qaeda and is frequently cited in print media.
7 p.m.: Dr. Barak Mendelsohn, associate professor of political science at Haverford College and senior fellow at FPRI whose research includes studies in radical Islamist organizations, Middle East security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and questions of international order.
Sunday, January 31
Stuart Gottlieb, an international affairs professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs — where he teaches American foreign policy, counterterrorism, and international security — and former senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Mann directs the workshop reading that includes actors Ramsey Faragallah, Zainab Jah, Mahira Kakkar, Melissa Miller, and Ryan Shams.
The McCarter Lab supports the development of new plays and musicals, as well as investigations and new adaptations of classic works for McCarter’s stage through readings, workshops, artist residencies, commissions, and other programs.
Hoodwinked, McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Thursday and Friday, January 28 and 29, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, January 30, at 2 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, January 31, at 3 p.m. $15. 609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org.