Behind the ‘Domestic Crusaders’

Six-person cast of ARC’s dramatic-comedy give insight to their characters

A family of six Pakistani-American Muslims will take the stage at American River College for the school’s second theater production of the semester, “The Domestic Crusaders.” The play touches on many subjects that are controversial and shows how the family reacts to the all of those topics.

The six actors are still working hard to perfect their performance. Rehearsals start with Sam Williams, the director, leading the cast members through some stretches as he talks about how the rehearsal is going to proceed. As they run through rehearsals, the actors minimally ask for their lines and only seem to be working out minor kinks.

Charles David Souther plays Hakib, the grandfather. “When I was a kid I used to act, but then I kind of got spun off of it because I was too cool,” said Souther. He started acting again when he came to ARC two years ago and this will be his first production at ARC. “I pull all the history of the family together,” said Souther about his role.

“I’m kind of like the cornerstone of the family. I see all their problems, I see what’s going on, all the prejudices against all the races. (The family) all stem from me and my experiences and what I did in my past.”

Priscilla Esparza plays the role of Khulsoom and “The Domestic Crusaders” will be her first theater production ever. “She’s the mother and sort of the prayer warrior of the group,” said Esparza on the role of Khulsoom. “I try to bring everybody together, but I will shut people up too.”

Brandon Lancaster plays Salman. He has been acting for most of his life. “I started seriously training when I was in the seventh grade,” said Lancaster. “The Domestic Crusaders” will be Lancaster’s fourth production at ARC. He has also been in the ARC productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Gumbo” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

“I’m Salman, I’m the father. Son of Hakib (and) husband of Khulsoom. He wants his traditions and religions to be respected,” said Lancaster about his character. “He tries to instill that in his kids. He wants him and his family to be successful.”

Rajiv Laffey plays the role of Salahuddin, the oldest son. He’s been acting for about eight years and “The Domestic Crusaders” will be his first play at ARC. “I play Salahuddin, or Sal for short. He’s the oldest son in the family. He’s always cracking jokes,” said Laffey about Sal. “He thinks he’s a genius, like the most right person of all time. He does have a few dramatic moments, but he tries to mask them with jokes.”

Mondis Vakili takes the stage as Fatima, the middle child. She has been acting for about 14 years and this is her first production at ARC. “She’s kind of a radical,” said Vakili about her character. “She stands up for what she believes in. She does protests and riots. She’s proud of her culture and where she comes from and she’s a law student. She comes back for Ghafur’s birthday, so that’s when you see her.”

Ghafur is played by Bhargav Kothi and this is also his first show at ARC. Gafur is the youngest son, and his 21st birthday is being celebrated in the play. “My character is all about changing the world and trying to be positive,” said Kothi. “He’s all about seeing the world in a different way, different angle. He’s kind of a rebel.”

“The Domestic Crusaders” opens on Friday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. at ARC’s theater stage two, which is located in the theater’s music wing.

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