What does it mean to be a Good Muslim Boy?
Acclaimed production set to open in Brisbane July 12 to Aug 4
By Osamah Sami
Adapted for the stage by Osamah Sami and Janice Muller
Directed by Janice Muller
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC | Thursday, 12 July – Saturday, 4 August
What does it mean to be a good Muslim boy? You probably shouldn’t gawk at girls in bikinis or fake a medical degree. If you must be an actor, you shouldn’t play a gay man on television, or Saddam Hussein in a post 9/11 American musical. And you definitely, definitely shouldn’t leave an arranged bride at the altar.
Meet Osamah Sami. He’s done all of the above. Interesting, considering his father is one of the leading Islamic clerics in Australia, having pulled his family out of war-torn Iran to settle in suburban Melbourne.
But when his kindly and unorthodox dad dies suddenly during a trip to Iran, Osamah must grapple with an inscrutable and corrupt bureaucracy in his fight to bring his father’s body home to Australia – all the while looking back on his life in a haunting, hilarious and heart-wrenching retrospective.
Drawing from his award–winning novel of the same name and his recent smash hit film Ali’s Wedding, Good Muslim Boy recounts Osamah’s hilarious and heartbreaking personal history, and the beauty and contradictions found at the cross currents of two cultures.
This award-winning production, a smash-hit during its premiere season at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre earlier this year, comes to Brisbane with the same standout cast. Rodney Afif (Ali’s Wedding, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and Nicole Nabout (Nowhere Boys, The Librarians) play multiple characters as the story travels from Austalian to Iran and back again, and hops between 1979, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2013. Osamah plays himself in this powerful piece of autobiographical theatre.
“Good Muslim Boy continues Queensland Theatre’s exploration of Australian society right now, in all its diversity and complexity. This show was so successful in Melbourne, not just because it is topical, but because it is told with a charismatic flair that matches the extraordinary stories of Osamah and his family. We’re proud to be bringing this funny, moving, captivating co-production with Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre to Brisbane audiences,” said Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong.
In writing about the stage adaption of his memoir, a co-production between Malthouse Theatre and Queensland Theatre, Sami said, “Refugees don’t want sympathy, pardon my bluntness. Empathy, on the other hand, can heal our wounds collectively, as we begin walking in one-another’s shoes”.
“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.”
ABOUT OSAMAH SAMI:
An award-winning actor, writer, director, stand-up comedian and spoken word artist, Osamah Sami was born in war torn Iran to Iraqi parents and escaped with his family to Australia as a teen.
He’s the star and writer behind the smash-hit Australian film Ali’s Wedding, co-written alongside Andrew Knight (Hacksaw Ridge, The Water Diviner) , shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Don McAlpine (Moulin Rouge), under the helm of award-winning director Jeffrey Walker (Modern Family, Dance Academy). His screenplay earned him an Australian Academy (AACTA) Award, an Australian Writers Guild Award, an Australian Film Critics Association Award, and a Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Original Screenplay.
His memoir Good Muslim Boy was published by Hardie Grant in 2015 to critical acclaim, winning the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and Highly Commended at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award.
On screen, he has played several leading roles, including Tony Ayres’ award-winning tele-movie Saved opposite Claudia Karvan, as well as director Mohammad Ghorbankarimi’s expansive tele-movie Journey. Osamah was also one of the leads in Dee McLachlan’s award-winning feature comedy 10 Terrorists!
His latest role is playing the title character in the Australian feature Ali’s Wedding, which was the Winner of the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at Sydney Film Festival and won The Age Critics Prize for Best Australian Film. Osamah received an AACTA Award, FCCA Award and AFCA Award nominations for Best Lead Actor.
On stage he has performed for Belvoir St. Theatre Company, Big West, La Mama, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company and over two dozen independent theatre houses. His role as Amor in Swedish playwright’s Jonas Khmeiri’s gritty show I Call My Brothers at the MTC earned him a Green Room Award nomination for Best Lead Actor.
Osamah was also the recipient of the triennial Golden Phoenix International Award for his contribution to Iraqi culture in diaspora. He is listed as a notable Australian Muslim by the Commonwealth of Australia and was the winner of the Creative Muslim of the Year at the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards.
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
Director: Janice Muller
Designer: Romanie Harper
Lighting Designer Ben Hughes
Composer/Sound Designer: Phill Slade
The Cast: Rodney Afif, Nicole Nabout and Osamah Sami