Sundeep Morrison was a six-year-old child in Castleridge, in northeast Calgary, at some point once they went out to trip sidekick with their dad, who drove a cab.
“We had the window down,” Morrison stated in a latest Zoom interview, “and this automotive pulled up subsequent to them, they have been making a little bit of a ruckus, and I heard one in every of them name my dad a ‘rag head’.
“I knew what a rag was,” Morrison added, “and I knew what a head was, however what my dad wore was a fabric crown, one thing very sacred.”
That was one in every of Morrison’s earliest reminiscences of being uncovered to racism, and a few years later, the playwright, novelist and performer was searching for a title for his or her play, which explores the 2012 mass capturing at a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek, Wis., the place a person fatally shot six folks and wounded 4 others.
Morrison known as it “Rag Head: An American Story.”
“I get a number of questions on that,” Morrison stated, “and it is a pejorative (time period), however I used to be intentional about selecting that (title) as a result of that was the primary slur I ever heard as a child.”
Morrison, who went to drama college in New York earlier than settling in Los Angeles, is presenting Rag Head: An American Story in New York this Friday night time as a part of United Solo, the world’s largest solo theatre pageant.
“I write what I do know, and what I do know is ache, disappointment to be othered and the enjoyment and worry that goes with being a baby of immigrant mother and father who’re proud Americans, proud Canadians – as a result of my dad owns a comfort retailer in rural Macfarlane, Wisconsin,” Morrison stated. “These characters are based mostly off my dad and my uncle and my mother and my brothers and my cousins. So you will have seven tales which are folks from my life, those that I grew up with and their perspective and tying collectively what occurred.”
Morrison remembered that day in 2012.
“I used to be right here in L.A. with my daughter who was only a toddler on the time and it was only a common Sunday. My mother and father, like many different folks around the globe, go on Sundays to their locations of worship and so for us – I discuss to my mother virtually every single day and so I knew that on Sunday, they’d both be in meditation or prayer and so we might at all times have a dialog later that afternoon.
Morrison grew up in northeast Calgary within the Nineteen Eighties and 1990’s
“And so later that afternoon, I bought a name from my brother and I might simply hear it in his voice, he was frantic, one thing was up.
“And he stated, you bought to activate the information, one thing horrible has occurred,” Morrison stated.
“And that is the moment the place my coronary heart dropped into my abdomen. And watching every thing unfold on CNN, and realizing that this was very actual, it was taking place to all of us, that was a moment that modified me deeply.”
Morrison initially wrote in regards to the capturing with the intention to produce other folks play all seven characters, nevertheless it morphed as a substitute right into a solo performance.
The capturing was one in every of a variety of mass shootings which have taken place in homes of worship around the globe, a pattern Morrison finds disturbing.
“My mother sings hymns,” Morrison stated. “That is a part of her devotional follow and that is the place she discovered the closest to her larger energy, so I could not shake the thought that, what if my mother had been on that individual stage singing hymns that day? What if he was there? And I could not shake that feeling. And I believe for the primary time, it was simply that anxiousness and that worry of, are my mother and father secure? And not having the ability to shake that, as a result of it was one thing that hit so shut to residence.
“And additionally while you consider a church, a mosque, a gurdwara, it is ‘Oh, it is a sacred place. And it is the final place the place something would occur there as a result of we welcome everyone there. People go there to worship.’
“So it was so devastating to me and so unnerving. It triggered a number of anxiousness and worry and anger.”
HEALING THROUGH STORIES
Part of the therapeutic course of for Morrison comes by storytelling – a behavior realized from their grandmother.
“I’d sit together with her. She raised us, and so even talking Punjabi – that is all due to her, she stored our mom tongue alive in our home – so by tales, she would share classes and I believe that is what actually sparked my love of storytelling and made me need to be a storyteller as effectively.”
Morrison hasn’t lived in Calgary for a very long time, however stated rising up within the metropolis’s northeast had a big effect.
“I liked rising up in Calgary and I believe my mother and father and the southeast Asian neighborhood there,” they stated. “Punjabi Sikhs, now we have such a deep connection to the land. Growing up there, I had reminiscences of going out to the farm and getting milk. Our neighborhood would go to Stampede for the livestock exhibits.
“I believe there’s a large blessing about rising up in a neighborhood with small-town roots that you’ve got these values and sense of neighborhood. We undoubtedly skilled discrimination and we’re on a ahead trajectory and I at all times have hope for the longer term, however I maintain my time there fairly pricey to my coronary heart.”
Morrison’s father drove a cab when the household lived within the Castleridge neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta
And Friday night time, Rag Head: An American Story could have its New York debut.
“I’m nervous,” Morrison stated. “I’m excited. It’s an enormous step and an enormous honour to be a part of Solofest. It’s the biggest solo pageant on the earth, so simply to have the present chosen (is an honour) – however I do really feel as a result of 9/11 was such a life-changing moment for thus many people, however particularly for youngsters of immigrants in America, to deliver a present – as a result of one in every of my characters makes point out of 9/11 and the way folks within the identify of any religion commit one thing horrible, they turn out to be the representatives of that religion. But that is not Islam, and that is not what Muslims consider – it additionally sheds gentle on how we take a look at different faiths, too.
“If somebody commits an atrocity within the identify of Christianity, they do not mechanically turn out to be emblematic of the Christian religion, however how simply we relegate that (standing) to immigrants if it is a religion that is completely different from our personal.
“But to deliver it (Rag Head) to New York, and to share it with that viewers is one thing that is actually deep for me and I’m hoping for an amazing turnout, however I’m simply grateful to share the story.”
There are not any plans to deliver the play to Calgary, however Morrison stated they would not rule out the chance.
“It can be an immense honour to deliver the present to you. That’s the dream, that is the aim – to give you the chance to share the story within the place that formed me. That can be an enormous honour and privilege so – we’re engaged on it. We’re reaching out, as a result of once more, we’re a small manufacturing however there’s nothing I’d love greater than bringing it residence.”