Actor Qurrat Ann Kadwani has a quest to perform in all 50 states. Her Sept. 4 performance at South Dakota State University will mark her 36th state.
Kadwani is the main character in “They Call Me Q,” which will be held at 7 p.m. in the University Student Union’s Vollstorff Ballroom. There is no charge for admission to the show, which is open to the public and sponsored by the SDSU Multicultural Center, University Program Council, Indian Students’ Association and Women’s and Gender Studies
“I love performing at colleges, and I love meeting students all over the country,” said Kadwani “I love inspiring them and talking to them after the show and hearing about their personal experiences with identity. I also love to travel so this is a dream come true for me. I try to eat the local food, see the sights and remind myself how lucky I am to be living my dream.”
“They Call Me Q” started in 2013 in a Montreal festival. The show is the story of a girl from Bombay growing up in the Bronx who gracefully seeks balance between the cultural pressures brought forth by her traditional parents and wanting acceptance into her new culture. Along the journey, Kadwani transforms into 13 characters who have shaped her life including her parents, Caucasian teachers, Puerto Rican classmates and African-American friends. Filled with humor, “They Call Me Q” speaks to the universal search for identity experienced by immigrants of all nationalities.
Following the Montreal show, two audience members approached her and raved about the performance, telling Kadwani she needed to do the show at colleges.
“I've learned that every school is different and yet, the same,” said Kadwani, who has had appearances on various TV shows, plays and movies. “Students in different parts of the country have various relationships with culture and identity and bridging the gap between tradition, gender roles and acceptance of themselves. Yet, the issues everywhere are the same. I try to help audiences see how we are more similar than different, so that we can accept ourselves and each other and create a more inclusive community.
“Our society, politicians and media try to divide us when it comes to the conversation surrounding immigrants and, generally, people who are different from us. I believe that as an artist, I’m bringing people together so that we can embrace our differences and focus on creating true change,” Kadwani continued. “College students have unique power—they are on the front lines of impacting policy, electing officials who are not corrupt, and creating a social system that can support those who are different and who have less—because that is what will drive growth.”
Kadwani is looking forward to the show at SDState.
“The performance gets better and better every time with more nuanced acting, hitting the mark with the comedic punchlines and being able to tap into an emotional gravitas for the heavier sections; so SDSU can expect one of the best performances,” she said.
“’They Call Me Q’ has such high energy so I try to pump myself up before the show by listening to my favorite music, talking to friends before the show and even dancing,” Kadwani continued, noting she has a new play, “Intrusion,” which is on sexual violence prevention. “I quickly rehearse the vocal tones for each character so that when I get onstage, my body's muscle memory does the rest.”