Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oct. 24 program designed to foster discussion of world’s major religions

GAINESVILLE, GA – Atlanta actress/playwright Suehyla El-Attar will present “The Perfect Prayer: An Inter-religious Dialogue,” at Brenau University’s Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall on Oct. 24 starting at 7:30 p.m.

The reading, which includes Robin Hale, Ann Wilson and Sean Keene, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with believers of some of the world’s major religions.

“Our objective (with this event) is to promote cultural sensitivity and discuss the commonalities among different faiths,” said Dovile Budryte, associate professor of international studies at Brenau. “Tolerance is impossible without understanding.”

The presentation is based on El-Attar’s first play, “The Perfect Prayer,” an account of a young Islamic woman’s struggle to balance the teachings of her religion against the temptations of the modern world.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution theater critic Wendell Brock describes the play, which debuted at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre this summer, as “a wise and affecting cross-cultural dance with universal appeal” that “does more to dispel ignorance about Islam than any piece of theater in recent memory.”

El-Attar, who Brock calls “a marvelous young playwright with a humane and wisely comic touch,” acknowledges that the play is derived largely from her own life experience as an American-born daughter of Egyptian Muslim immigrants raised in Mississippi.

“The main character, Hadia, isn’t me, but I’d have to say that we have a lot in common,” the 30-year-old Mississippi State graduate told Creative Loafing in a May 17, 2006 interview. “She’s 21 and gradually feels like she has to make a choice between being an American and being a Muslim….The play also deals with not being a Christian in the South.”

“The Perfect Prayer: An Inter-religious Dialogue” is sponsored by Sigma Iota Rho, Brenau’s International Studies Honor Society, and Students for a Progressive Society at Gainesville State University. It is the second in Brenau University’s “Tolerance” series, films and discussions that focus on international and local issues related to tolerance, designed to foster debate and promote understanding and appreciation in the community of others who are different.

The series also aims to increase awareness of important international issues and relate them to the local consciousness, to explore the presentation of these issues in “traditional” history, and to relate these historical events to current issues, Budryte said.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact Budryte at 770-538-4652 or e-mail her at dbudryte@brenau.edu. Directions on how to get to Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall are available from Brenau’s website.


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