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“PASSAGE” examines impact of colonization on modern relationships

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

“Passage” cast Valencia Proctor, James A. Williams, Marisa B. Tejeda, Clay Man Soo, Aamera Siddiqui, and Oogie Push. (Photo courtesy Pillsbury House + Theatre)

Exposed Brick Theatre’s latest production asks: Is it possible for the colonized and the colonizer to ever truly get along?

“PASSAGE,” by playwright Christopher Chen, opens Sept 21 at Pillsbury Theatre in Minneapolis.

Pillsbury Theatre Artistic Director Signe V. Harriday saw the play in New York and recommended it to Exposed Brick Theatre’s co-directors Aamera Siddiqui and Suzy Messerole. Siddiqui says Exposed Brick is dedicated to telling untold stories and creating art at the intersection of identities.

“Christopher Chen's play – not only is it in line with that mission, but it examines issues that are so relevant to just who we are as a community, and where we are in the here and now in this country,” Saddiqui said. “By the third scene, I was like, ‘we have to figure out how to bring this play to the Twin Cities.’”

Siddiqui is playing the role of “H;” she says one of her favorite things about this play is that it doesn’t have any true labels. All the characters and countries are identified simply by a letter.

“I believe by taking away those labels, it takes away our preconceived notions. It takes away the narratives that we've decided to hang on to. And it takes away the implicit and explicit biases, and then allows us to actually have those difficult conversations,” said Siddiqui.

Siddiqui says one of those conversations is about oppression and privilege, and how we can all experience both.

Co-director Suzy Messerole says it’s fitting the play is taking place at Pillsbury House, a community center grounded in South Minneapolis, which was built on stolen Dakota land.

“So these are not hypothetical questions for the artists in it. We are really looking at how has colonization impacted how we live, how we engage with each other. What is my responsibility to the land back movement? What is my responsibility for moving reparations? And I don't even think the play answers the question. It's just asking the question,” said Messerole.

PASSAGE” runs through October 15, with select performances offering post-show discussions.

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