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qulili production artwork


Qulili fuses music, movement, and the exact words and experiences of real people to explore the personal side of an international issue. The title comes from an Arabic word meaning "tell me" in English, and is inspired by the conversations with immigrants and refugees that led to the development of the show over the last six months. Individuals as young as 8-years-old from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the remarkable characters audiences will encounter. Simultaneously funny, provocative, and deeply moving, this new play is a timely celebration of resilience and the human spirit.

Every performance will be followed by a conversation with some of the individuals who participated in the process as interview subjects. Audiences are encouraged to stay and meet some of the remarkable people that inspired the show, as well as ask questions of the artists and participants.

This world premiere marks Blindspot Collective's first production since winning the Audience Favorite Award at the San Diego International Fringe Festival earlier in 2018.

Qulili was developed in partnership with Yalla, a refugee service organization in El Cajon. The project is made possible thanks to generous support from the University of California and the Critical Refugee Studies Collective. 


Due to its subject matter, this show includes mature themes and is recommended for ages 12 & up.

Andra Agosto, Andrew Walters, and Jimi Valiente Neighbors in The Magic in this Soul

Buy Tickets

All tickets are $25.

Seating is General Admission.


Performances are at 7:30pm on

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays

September 7-9 and 14-16, 2018.



Created & Directed by Blake McCarty & Catherine Hanna Schrock

with music by Fouad Sawa

Featuring Christian Contreras, Kandace Crystal J. Freycinet,

Will Goree, Jasmine January, Marisol Castillo Laborde,

Gabriel Macedo, Allyn Anthony Moriyon & Mondis Vakili

Production Manager: Sofia Zaragoza

Asst. Stage Manager/Dramaturg: Lilia Porter

Voice & Dialect Coach: Monique Gaffney

This production would not be possible without the participation of over fifty local refugees and immigrants who generously offered their time and graciously shared their stories.


The project is possible thanks to the support of Julie Burelle, Alison Urban, and the Theatre & Dance Department at UC San Diego.

The creators are also indebted to the volunteers who interviewed, transcribed, and assisted in the editing process of the final script.


The Venue

All performances of Qulili will take place at the Arthur Wagner Theatre in Galbraith Hall on the UCSD campus.

The nearest parking lots are P103 and P102. Parking is free on weekends and available for a small fee on weeknights. Please see payment machines for more information.

Map to Wagner Theatre in Galbraith Hall

FREquently asked questions

What is verbatim theatre?

Sometimes called ethnodrama, docudrama, or interview theatre, the term refers to any work that reconstructs and presents the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a specific topic or event. Shows like The Laramie Project and artists such as Anna Deavere Smith have popularized the technique. In Qulili the actors portray real people discussing their personal experiences as refugees and immigrants. Some people were interviewed by themselves while others were interviewed with friends or family members. Every character is based on someone the creators met during the process—and the performers use their exact words as well as recreate their tone, inflection, and body language.

If youth participated in the development process, is this appropriate for my kids?

Many of the interview participants are part of an organization called Yalla that serves immigrant and refugee youth. As a result, many of the characters are young people. We believe teenagers will enjoy the show, but it is not recommended for those under the age of 12 due to some mature themes and content.

How does the show acknowledge refugees and immigrants without appropriating their experience?

We feel that these stories need to be shared with a wider audience because the exchange that theater creates has immense power to humanize the lives and experiences of people. Many people may have limited opportunities to meet or engage with refugees and immigrants. This work is intended to be an introduction of sorts—offering audiences the chance to meet characters who are very real people and hear about their struggles and their hopes and dreams. Most of the interview subjects would not be comfortable speaking about their lives in front of a large group of strangers. Allowing actors to portray them provides a platform for their voices. In addition, the interview participants have been a consistent part of the development process and were invited to rehearsals. Some of the performers are even immigrants or refugees themselves.

How long is the show?

The show is approximately 85 minutes and does not have an intermission. Every performance will be immediately followed by conversation with the creators of the show and some of the remarkable individuals upon whom the characters are based.

Mycah Bacchus and Will Goree in The Magic in this Soul

Contact Us

Qulili is presented by Blindspot Collective, a theatre company in San Diego.

Blindspot Collective produces radically inclusive programming at the intersection of advocacy, education, and entertainment that cultivates and celebrates new work, emerging artists, diverse audiences, and fresh ideas.

If you have questions or wish to learn more, please email us at

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