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Exhibitions and Events

Ping Chong + Company to perform 'Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity'

University of Michigan Museum of Art, "Orion" sculpture by Mark Di Suvero in the foreground, Photo by Leisa Thompson

U-M’s University Musical Society (UMS) will welcome Ping Chong + Company to campus on Feb. 18 for a performance that illuminates the daily lives of Muslim Americans in an effort to work toward greater communication and understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

The performance, Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity, is an example of Ping Chong’s mission to create theater that crosses boundaries of identity, community and form. His projects have explored a wide variety of subject matter—from a hidden genocide in Africa to class struggles in America and modernization in China—but the common thread is a unifying commitment to artistic innovation and social responsibility.

Photo courtesy of Adam Nadel.

This interview-based theater production, part of Chong’s 25-year series titled Undesirable Elements, explores the diverse experiences of young Muslim New Yorkers who came of age in post-9/11 New York City at a time of increasing Islamophobia. Participants come from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and include young men and women who reflect a range of Muslim identities: those who converted to Islam, those who were raised Muslim but have since left the faith, those who identify as “secular” or “culturally” Muslim, and those who are observant on a daily basis.

Beyond Sacred is nothing less than a prayer for understanding, a beautiful, funny, and intensely poignant cry for tolerance.” (Santa Barbara Independent) Many other community events surround this performance, including a lecture with Ping Chong, a community forum “Investigating Islam,” and post-performance Q&A between the artists and audience.

Tickets to the show are still available, or you can plan to tune in for a FREE livestream of Ping Chong + Company’s performance of Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity at the University of Michigan’s Power Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 8th at 8 p.m. Livestreams of the performance will be available at or via Facebook Live at



Related community events:

Workshop: Understanding Islam — Feb. 11, 2017
Tensions around religious identity make the need for dialogue and understanding more important than ever. UMS will partner with community leaders, artists, and scholars to guide participants in understanding the diverse societies of the Islamic world. They will explore the rich culture of Islam in Dearborn at the Islamic Center of America as well as at the U-M Museum of Art in Ann Arbor. The workshop runs 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., and will feature artistic demonstrations and provide learning resources that can be brought back into the classroom. The workshop fee is $50 and is open to everyone.

Penny Stamps Lecture Series: Ping Chong — Feb. 16, 2017
Ping Chong, an internationally acclaimed director, playwright, and pioneer in the use of media in the theater, will speak at the Michigan Theater on Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a USA Artist Fellowship, two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards, and the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and has created over 100 productions for the stage which have been presented at major festivals and theaters around the world. Penny Stamps Speaker Series events are free and open to the public.

Investigation Islam: A Community Forum — Feb. 17, 2017
Join moderator Pauline Jones (Director of the U-M Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum and professor of political science) and panelists in a town hall style meeting that explores the regional and global impact of Islamic cultures, and examines ways to counteract Islamophobia in our community. Panelists include Beyond Sacred cast members Kadin Herring and Amir Khafagy, and U-M associate professor of history Butch Ware. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17 at U-M’s Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery.

Performance and Artist Q&A — Feb. 18, 2017
Following the performance at U-M’s Power Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. on Feb. 18, Jim Leija, UMS director of education & community engagement, will moderate a Q&A with Ping Chong and the cast. This will also be part of the livestream, that is free and open to the public.

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