In an exciting partnership with Theatre 167, a multilingual, multicultural ensemble, Marina Budhos’ latest novel Watched comes to life! Scenes from Watched were adapted for live performance, raising questions of belonging, identity and community in the midst of increasing fear and paranoia. We aim to bring Surveillance Theater on the road in 2017, to begin these conversations theaters, community organizations and schools across the country.

If you are interested in bringing Surveillance Theater to your community, please contact us at watched.novel@gmail.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK & THEATRE 167

Watched follows Naeem, a dreamy teenager, the eternal procrastinator, cornered in a teenage act of rebellion by the NYPD, finds himself pressured into spying on his Bangladeshi-American community. But Watched is also the narrative of a community under scrutiny, and something of  a love song to the author’s native Queens.  It was a natural fit to partner with Theatre167 who, in addition to  exploring the fissures in our individual and collective narratives, were also founded in Queens.

Named for the 167 languages spoken in Jackson Heights, the most diverse neighborhood in the world, Theatre167 (http://www.theatre167.org/) is a multicultural, multilingual ensemble dedicated to creating imaginative, deeply collaborative plays that investigate our cultural complexities.

PAST PERFORMANCES

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2016
INAUGURAL  STREET  SHOWCASE

We began on a bright Saturday morning, in the triangle of Diversity Plaza, just out of earshot from the 7 Train. Performing to a crowd of shoppers, shop keepers, uncles and of course the ever present NYPD, the company of Theatre167 held their audience’s rapt attention.

What was particularly fascinating is how the neighborhood which inspired the book becomes a part of the drama–we could experience the neighborhood as they walked from scene to scene. In turn, those in the neighborhood saw their stories brought to light.

We followed Naeem, a local boy who becomes a watcher in his own community, drawing from the neighborhood and streets that inspired the novel.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE CAST:

“The novel itself is so honestly written and the characters are so true to life that it was jarringly powerful to play these moments out in the very space they may actually occur. Also, feeling community members in those spaces instinctively recognize the story as their own, and be drawn to what the characters were living through, immediately grounded me as a performer. It was like I didn’t need to worry about closing the gulf between the audience and myself as I normally would on a stage, because they were already living in Naeem’s reality.

As a South Asian immigrant male who came of age in the shadow of 9/11, the themes this story explores are very personal to me,. The struggle to define what being “American” means while being constantly reminded by everything around you that you are “the other”, and to balance that with your instinct to stay rooted in your heritage is really the struggle that has shaped my identity. Like Naeem, I came here when I was 10 after having lived in India, so that process of tearing one identity down and piecing together a new one, feeling a sense of shame for being different, and the restlessness that experience instills you, to always keep moving and changing, is something I’m all too familiar with.”–Kesav Wable

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2016
READING AT THE AAWW

We did the first staged reading of Surveillance Theater during Marina’s New York City launch at the Asian American Writers Workshop.