Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your play, MexiStani!, is appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What inspired you to tell this story, and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?
Sofie Khan: I wanted to FINALLY give a flyer to people who asked me about my background and say “HERE, just come to my show and you’ll get ALL your answers!” Ha! My life’s experiences along with the socio-political climate we live in is what inspired me to tell my story. When I was younger, I would always feel tense when folks would ask me about my Mexican/Pakistani background, because my answers were sometimes met with strong, unfavorable opinions and questions like “Have you ever met your father?” “Did they ever get together?” Stemming from the assumption that I was a product of some kind of a fling - as if long-lasting love could never exist between a Pakistani Muslim and a Mexican Catholic. Nowadays, I just enjoy the shock that falls over people’s faces and unapologetically cut to the chase with “YUP! My parents got married and are STILL married!” This world would be a better place if we can just get past the illusions and mental patterns that cloud our judgment. LOVE IS LOVE!
As far as my creative process, the credit goes to three of the most amazing women in my life: my mother, my mentor Josefina Lopez, and my director Jessica Lynn Johnson. Since I was little, my mother always encouraged me to keep a journal to record all of my experiences. Later, when I met Josefina, I learned the power of transforming those journal entries into poetry along many other writing techniques. Then, when I teamed up with Jessica, she helped me thread all of my creative writing together during her workshops and our coaching sessions and VOILA! I had a solo show.
BD: Given that the performance is a one-woman show, how do you balance the workload of the production, and do you feel that the various roles enhance your creative process?
SK: OMG! The production workload is insane! There’s marketing, press releases, accounting, graphic design, etc. But delegation is everything to balance the workload of production, especially during the Fringe festival. I’ve been working on MexiStani since last year and production made me even more grateful and laser-focused whenever it was time for writing or rehearsing different scenes.
BD: What can you share with us about your experience in being a 2017 Fringe Scholarship winner?
SK: It has been a rewarding experience and a treat to meet others who won the scholarship, as well! I’ll be honest, after I registered my show, I almost cancelled because of a Trump supporter that almost got backstage at a previous show of mine. I was shaken and once I got the Fringe Scholarship, there was no turning back. Super grateful to the Fringe staff, along with Greg and Jenn Scudari Crafts of studio/stage theater who have created a very safe and supportive environment!
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
SK: I’m hoping to create a safe space and understanding for all, especially Muslim LGBTQI individuals to feel a part of a greater community and have a sense of belonging and acceptance. (One of my scenes is the first time I met a Muslim gay couple in Australia.) Since the Pulse nightclub shooting by a gay Muslim man in Orlando on June 12, 2016, I’ve felt a strong responsibility to use my talents to produce this show and ultimately leave the audience enlightened with hope that we are closer to unity and peace than we are to the fears and hateful rhetoric that attempt to divide us.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for MexiStani!?
SK: Fringe is so FUNKDAFIED, wildly creative, and weird…it’s where I feel normal.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Studio/Stage from June 9-17, 2017. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
SK: Yep, the show officially opens Friday, June 9th, at 11 p.m. and other show dates are Saturday, June 10th, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 17th, at 5:00 p.m. After Fringe, I plan to take it to theaters like CASA 0101, college campuses, New York, and, of course, my sweet home…Chicago.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
SK: Yes, indeed. I am fundraising for the Naz & Matt Foundation, an organization working to tackle homophobia triggered by religion, I’m developing MexiStani into a book, my blog - featuring my creations like my Mariachi Saree dress and merchandise like a MexiStani version of a loteria (Mexican Bingo)…it’ll all be on my website, heysofiekhan.com.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for MexiStani!?
SK: Preview night was SOLD OUT! As one of my reviewers stated, “Mexistani! is a funny and powerful one-woman show that speaks to the modern American experience. Sofie brings to the stage not only her own humor and talent, but also brings alive the colorful characters of her family. Run, don’t walk, to see this show!”
For more details and tickets, please visit heysofiekhan.com and follow me on Twitter.