'Safa's Story:' New Interactive Play Inspired By San Diego Teen From Zimbabwe

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
By Marissa Cabrera, Maureen Cavanaugh
Credit: Peter Schrock
Above: Mycah Bacchus as Safa during rehearsal for "Safa's Story" opening Friday at OnStage Playhouse, Feb. 2018.

What if you had the chance to transform the ending of a play?

That’s exactly what you can do when the curtain comes down at the end of “Safa’s Story,” a new play opening this weekend at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

The play was inspired by the real-life experience of San Diegan Sasha Hofisi, a high school junior and Zimbabwean immigrant, who faced race-based bullying in school.

“I grew up in a primarily white neighborhood. I was teased and bullied a lot because I was different and because I come from an immigrant family. 'Safa’s Story' basically gives you a glimpse into what that was like, being called racial slurs, students telling me that I was worthless because of my race and being made fun of because of my last name,” Hofisi said.

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: OnStage Playhouse Chula Vista

Cost: $20-$40

Encore Presentation

When: March 3, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Where: Old Globe

Cost: Free

Catherine Hanna Schrock, who directed and wrote the play, said she wanted to use the forum theatre technique to engage the audience and foster dialogue about overcoming bias and bigotry.

“After we show the performance with the worst case outcome for Safa ... we replay scenes and then ask the audience to stop the play, literally to yell stop, in a moment where they think Safa or her two friends could have said or done anything differently to support Safa in getting a different outcome for her life,” Schrock said. "In this kind of theatre, we're not trying to provide answers for the audience, we're trying to support a process of discovery where they can find tools in a moment of bullying, of things they can do as bystanders or a of victim. What can they do and say that might actually help the moment?"

“Safa’s Story” is geared towards families and kids ages 6 and up. The play, which will be shown at several local elementary and middle schools, is a production of Bocón and Blindspot Collective, two theatre companies dedicated to serving diverse communities.

Blindspot Collective was awarded a grant from the University of California’s Critical Refugee Studies Collective to develop work about refugees and immigrants in San Diego.

Schrock and Hafisi talk about making "Safa's Story," Wednesday on Midday Edition.