From Bombay to Bronx

Qurrat Kadwani travels to visit her childhood friend in Mumbai with hopes of realizing her true identity. THEY CALL ME Q follows a Kadwani as she recalls those who have helped shape her life and discover her true culture identity. (Kaitlin Bonn/The Independent)

Kadwani portrays Saraya, a mehndi artist, as she lavishly decorates Q’s hand while in Mumbai. She tells Kawdwani a story of an Indian princess who practices her mehndi designs on her servant girl in an attempt to inspire Q for the future.(Kaitlyn Bonn/The Independent)

A lone actress stood upon the well-lit stage. She paused, cupping her hand in the air as if she caressed the face of a small child who had just disobeyed her mother.

“Your business is everyone else’s business,” she said bluntly in a thick Indian accent, “because they live next door.” The actress took as step back with a look of amazement, resuming the role of the child.

Little Q had just learned that the Bronx Indian community knew more about her than she originally thought.

Clark’s Student Programing Board proudly presented They Call Me Q, starring Qurrat Ann Kadwani on Thursday at noon in the Gaiser Student Center.

The hour long show follows a girl from Bombay, India growing up in the Bronx. She searches for a way to balance cultural pressures from her parents and the pressure of wanting acceptance in a new American culture.

Kadwani, who plays Q, the narrator, transforms into 13 characters who have shaped her life–including her parents, teen bullies, Puerto Rican classmates, and African-American friends.

“I’ve always liked solo plays,” Kadwani said. She wanted to share her experience growing up Indian in the Bronx. “I wanted to keep my cultural identity, and perform it live.”

Kadwani is the first South Asian female to have a solo play produced off Broadway.  They Call Me Q has won titles such as Maui Fringe’s Best Play Award, the VTG Festival’s Best Actress Award, the SAIPAF Trailblazer Award, the AAPICC Cultural Award and the SAPNA Dream Award.

In 2014, They Call Me Q ran for seven months and was performed over 150 times in 35 states.

Kadwani will continue her show’s college tour at Queensborough Community College in New York City.

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