Our Play: Journey

Journey, by Mohammad Ghaffari

Inspired by Hayy ibn Yaqzan by Ibn Tufayl

We are proud to present the world premiere of the play "Journey," a new English translation and adaption of "Hayy ibn Yaqzan," considered one of the spiritual and scientific masterpieces of the medieval Islamic world.

Written in the 12th century by Ibn Tufayl, an Andalusian Muslim philosopher and physician, it is the story of the parentless boy Hayy, who is raised in the wild by a gazelle. The death of his gazelle mother sends Hayy on a voyage of scientific inquiry and self-discovery.

"Hayy ibn Yaqzan" (“Alive, son of Awake” in Arabic) was translated into English in the 17th century and served as the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which was published in 1719.

“Hayy ibn Yaqzan is a compendium of many aspects of Islamic science, in the context of a parable,” U of M anthropology professor William Beeman says.

In his solitude, the character Hayy uses reason and science to understand the world around him, but comes to an understanding of religious truth—without formal education. And when he finally encounters civilization he finds its religious beliefs insubstantial.

“Anyone interested in the influence of Islam on the humanities, or in seeing the world through a medieval lens, will be fascinated by this play,” Beeman says.

"Journey" was translated and adapted for the stage by Iranian-American director Mohammad B. Ghaffari. For more information about the production, please visit the Elemental Ensemble website and the Minnesota Playlist website.

The play serves as the centerpiece for a three-day conference at the University of Minnesota, "Shared Cultural Spaces," which examines the relationship of Islam and the humanities, namely in architecture, art, literature, new media and science.

The role of Hayy will be performed by dancer and choreographer Eddie Bruno Oroyan, a 2010 McKnight dance fellow, and the narrator will be performed by Anika Reitman.

The production is movement-oriented and features elements of Ta’ziyeh, a traditional Persian theater form, performed in the round and never before shown in the Twin Cities. Original music will be performed by composer Yukio Tsuji and two additional musicians.

Download the official Journey Play Program: