Funny, moving story of a Muslim-American family dealing with their daughter’s gender transition brings a human face to today’s headlines

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—August 8, 2016) PlayMakers Repertory Company opens its 2016-2017 Season with the world premiere of Mashuq Mushtaq Deen’s “Draw the Circle” directed by Chay Yew. Deen will perform his one-man show Aug. 24-28 as the first presentation in PlayMakers’ new PRC² second stage series.

“Draw the Circle” is the funny, deeply moving story of a bewildered immigrant Muslim-American family coming to terms with a child who defies their expectations and redefines their capacity for unconditional love when that child transitions from one gender to another. The play, called an “effortless blend of comedy and intense intimacy” (Stephen Shelley, Artistic Director of Brooklyn’s BEAT Festival), is a uniquely personal look at the human quest for understanding in an age of shifting expectations and identities.

Deen, an award-winning actor/playwright, has been described as “an artist whose work reflects and imagines the national cultural identity.” New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) named him a 2050 Fellow. His plays have been produced and/or developed by New Dramatists, The Public Theater, NYTW, InterAct Theatre, Page 73, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, BEAT Festival and Berkshire Fringe as well as colleges and universities across the country.

“In a series devoted to opening dialogue about the important issues of our time, and at a moment when we as a community must confront questions of intolerance, Deen’s ‘Draw the Circle’ explores the complex humanity at the heart of one transgender story, expanding our empathy through a 21st century understanding of inclusivity,” says PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch. “This compassionate look at a family’s struggle with their child’s gender transition will be followed each night by a facilitated discussion with our audience, Deen, and various scholars and community leaders. We hope to welcome a broad spectrum of theater-goers to this show and responsibly entertain, educate and perhaps even transform them through art and storytelling.”

Describing his eagerness to perform at PlayMakers, Deen quotes the poem that inspired the title of his play saying “Edwin Markham wrote, ‘He drew the circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel, thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him in!’ He adds, “I cannot wait to come to the beautiful state of North Carolina, and if I have to draw a circle around the whole, entire state, I’ll be glad to do it.”

Performances of “Draw the Circle” will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. Aug. 28 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Ticket prices start at $15 and may be purchased at www.playmakersrep.org or by calling (919) 962-7529.

PRC² features innovative, topical work that encourages both artist and audience to take risks in unknown territory. Sharing in the process of new work under construction or artists grappling with hot button issues, the audience engages in discussions with the creative artists and expert panelists following each performance. PlayMakers describes the series as “dynamic productions followed by a ‘second act’ of conversation with our audience.” Also featured in the upcoming PRC2 season are an original and unexpected adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” (Jan. 11-15, 2017) and Daniel Beaty’s provocative and topical “Mr. Joy” (April 26-30, 2017).

Subscription packages for PlayMakers’ 2016-2017 Season, including these PRC² shows, are also currently available.

About PlayMakers
Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Carolinas’ premier resident professional theater company. New York’s Drama League has named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America.”

PlayMakers contact (for press information, interviews, photos and art): Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359, cmahan@email.unc.edu.