In Mona Mansour’s The Vagrant Trilogy, a promising 23-year old Palestinian grad student must choose whether to return to his family in a war zone — or leap into a more secure life alone as a refugee. An impressive undertaking for director Mark Wing-Davey and his six-person cast at Mosaic Theater Company, the haunting odyssey ponders home and family through the lens of a forced migration. Comprised of three one-hour plays that have been performed individually but never before as a unit, the evening offers up two alternate outcomes for the lead character.
“It’s been described as a conditional trilogy,” says Mansour, raised in southern California by an American mother and Lebanese immigrant father. “It’s not so much this is the first part of his life, this is the middle part of his life, and this is the later part of his life. It’s really like, here’s this moment — he might go one way or another, and you’re going to see both.”
The play’s central character, Adham, speaks of finding a place, for himself and his family “where we are wanted.”
Mansour recalls that the house she grew up in became just such a place for refugees in her own family during the Lebanese civil war, which began in 1975 and ended fifteen years later. “A lot of our cousins — particularly the male ones — started to come live with us,” she says. “When my mother passed away last February, one of the cousins said — it was very beautiful — ‘I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.'”
Mansour discovered just how accepting her mother was when she came out to her. “I was on the way to San Francisco with this woman, and I told my mom. She’s like, ‘Wait, are you going with a boyfriend?’ I was like, ‘No, mom, it’s a woman.’ Literally, in the blink of an eye she was like, ‘Whatever you do, I love you.’ That’s who she was.”
The Vagrant Trilogy runs through July 1 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993, ext. 2 or visit MosaicTheater.org.