Take a look at a feature I wrote in relation to Little Mosque on the Prairie’s impact on Marilyn Gardner’s Communicating Across Boundaries by following the link enclosed below.
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Tags: Arlene Duncan, Blog Partner, CBC, Comedy, Little Mosque on the Prairie
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Its been sometime since we last connected with Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Arlene Duncan, who has portayed the role of the vibrant and independant cafe owner, Fatema Dinssah.With the groundbreaking and daring yet highly comedic series drawing to an end tonight on CBC, its a suitable time to touch base with the actress to discuss her response to the conclusion and to ask her to reflect on some of her experiences over the course of its six seasons.
Read through my complete interview with the delightful actress below and be sure to tune in for the series finale of Little Mosque on the Prairie @ 8:30pm eastern standard time.
Abbas Karimjee: Since we last connected, it was announced that Little Mosque
will end in its current season.This season marks Little Mosque’s
final chapter. What was your reaction when you discovered this
and what are your thoughts on the degree to which it is suitable for the show
to end this year?
Arlene Duncan:It has been both an honor and a pleasure to be part of such a unique
and ground-breaking show for six seasons. Currently we are
viewed in over 90 countries around the world. Although the show
went through many changes in its six seasons, I’m happy to have
seen my character make it from the first shooting day to the end!
Obviously after this amount of time working with the same cast
and crew there was sadness when we learnt that the show would be
coming to an end. Actually we thought we would be ending after
the 5th season but when we heard we would be coming back again
for a 6th season it was an unexpected bonus!
AK: Could you please give us an idea as to the atmosphere which was present on the set throughout the final weeks on the show?
AD:The atmosphere shooting the final season was very bittersweet: all
good things must come to an end, it wasn’t a complete shock or a
surprise, and we were all prepared to go out with a bang. Still, after
an investment of six seasons into these wonderful characters, just
like our audiences around the world, we’ve become attached to
them. It’s hard to say goodbye and let go of both the relationships
and what they mean to us, fortunately they’ll continue to live on in
reruns and DVDs around the world! After we shot our final scene
together as a group, we all very un-Islamically opened a bottle of
champagne and toasted to our success—those who partake,
AK: What is the final season all leading up to? Could you please give
us an idea of what in store for the series finale itself, both for
Fatima and the show in general?
AD:By the time this is posted the season finale may have already aired,
but still I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone. However, I
can say I think the ending should be a satisfying way to show the
journey of this community of Muslims and the people of Mercy to
the loyal viewers who have followed us from the beginning.
When the final credits roll, one can still imagine that life in Mercy and the lives of these characters will continue to go on: Rayaan &
Amaar’s life as a married couple, Sarah’s adventures in her new
role as a single woman, embracing her faith, Baber continuing to
rant, Fred spouting off on the radio, and Fatima dishing out goat
curry and wisecracks at the café.
AK: You have played Fatima for the show’s six seasons. Could you
please reflect on some of your most favorite moments on the show,
both on screen and in production? Reflecting on your six years
from working to the show, what aspect of working on the show,
will you miss the most?
AD:Although we did the majority of our shooting in Toronto (the
interiors were shot in a studio and the vicinity) and the exteriors in
Saskatchewan, we considered ourselves a Canadian show
representing the multicultural Canadian experience. What I’ll miss
most, besides having a steady gig for six seasons, and working
with our fantastic cast & crew, are the trips to Saskatchewan every
year to shoot exterior scenes. Our‘paid vacation time’ or ‘acting
camp’ as it was affectionately called was a fun-filled bonding
experience where we got to connect with each other as a cast & as
friends, as well as make friends within the Saskatchewan
community. These trips also helped me to ground my character in
the experience of what life would really be like as a Nigerian
immigrant in a small Saskatchewan town.
AK:You were recently involved in a musical theatre which made its
debut on January 23. Could you please indicate the
title of the project, where it was held,the storyline of the show and
other relevant details?
AD:Since the show finished shooting I have gone on to perform some
very different roles from Fatima in various films & television
shows, but I was most excited to get back to my roots in musical
theatre and play the lead role in the Tony-Award winning play
Caroline or Change. Set in 1963, Caroline Thibodeaux is a maid to
a Southern Jewish family who does what she must to provide for
children while struggling to keep her sense of self, while the son of
her employer struggles to make sense of the world around him. It
has been quite a while since I’d been ‘on the boards’ performing
live on stage night after night.
AK: How does working on a theatre production differ from working
on studio sets such as Little Mosque? Which type of acting do you
Playing eight shows a week takes a
very different discipline from working in television. There are no
re-takes in theatre and the objective is to give the audience an
‘opening night’ performance every night. I’m very happy to say
that thankfully our show was well received with a sell-out run. I’m
actually looking forward to getting back on the stage again!
AK:With Little Mosque ending, how do you hope Fatema will be remembered as and what final message do you have for viewers of the show?
With the luxury of six seasons on LMOTP I’ve learnt a great deal as
a performer, grown as an actor and a person and I’m sure to carry
all that I’ve learnt into my future roles. I’m very grateful that
audiences have embraced the character of Fatima Dinssa as their
friend, a sister, or a neighbour and I hope that her legacy will be
similar to that of LMOP: to show that in spite of our outward and
cultural differences at heart we are all the same…and that most
problems can be resolved with some good food!
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Tags: Arlene Duncan, CBC, Comedy, Culture, Islam, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Muslim, Series Finale, Television
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In the lead up to the series finale, Amaar reveals to Baber that he plans to be the Imam of the new Mosque. In turn, Baber revolts and forms a splinter Mosque. Meanwhile, Ann is distraught over Charles’ upcoming nuptials to a younger woman and comes up with a bizarre strategy to fight for her man. And Sarah attempts to rejoin the church choir, with fiery results.[CBC]
What prompted Amaar to change his mind about being the Imam for the community? How will Baber`s revolt affect the unity of Mercy`s Muslim community?What is Ann`s bizarre strategy and will she be successful in uniting with Charles?How will Sarah disrupt the choir with her fiery results and how will this affect her ability to effectively reintegrate into the Anglican community. Share your thoughts and speculations in the comments section of the episode.
Notes and Spoilers
- This is the first part of the series finale . The final half hour will air on Monday, April 2 2012 @ 8:30pm eastern standard time.
- Debra McGrath mentioned in a recent live question and answer session on the blog that the Mayor would be seeing a plastic surgeon for this episode. The surgeon has been portrayed by actor Colin Mochrie, who is McGrath`s husband.http://abbaskarimjeeweblog.com/2012/02/06/live-chat-with-little-mosque-on-the-prairies-debra-mcgrath-tonight-at-900pm-eastern-time/
- Arlene Duncan revealed in a recent live stream with CBC that Sarah [ Sheila McCarthy]would remain a Muslim, once she has worked through her crisis of faith.
- Sitara Hewitt[ Rayyan] commented on how the fire was set on a fake model of the mosque built in Etobicoke and the surrounding areas of the set. Sheila McCarthy added that it was upsetting to see but further details were not divulged.To view a photo of the fire on Mercy Mosque @ www.cbc.ca/littlemosque.
- The live stream can be viewed @http://www.cbc.ca/live/we-want-your-questions-for-the-stars-of-little-mosque.html
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Tags: Arlene Duncan, Arts and Culture, Canada, CBC, Colin Mochrie, Comedy, Debra McGrath, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Religion, Sheila McCarthy, Television, Zaib Shaikh
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Tune in for a new episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie, entitled The Dating Game@ 8:30pm eastern time
Amaar needs Baber and Thorne’s cooperation to win a coveted Multi-Faith Award, but Baber and Thorne try to cut Amaar out when they discover the award comes with a cash prize. Meanwhile, Ann sets Sarah up on the worst first-date of her life, which leads to the worst second-date of her life. And Nate and Fatima team up to make a multi-ethnic sandwich[CBC]
What will be Amaar’s response be to the two’s attempt to have him removed from the situation? Given Amaar’s more liberal approach to multifaith events, how will Thorne and Baber’s more consrvative and narrow mimded attutudes affect their ability to win? What prompts Nate and Fatema to make a multi sandwich and how will this turn out?Share your speculations in the comments section and be sure to tune in.
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Tags: Arlene Duncan, Arts and Entertainment, CBC, Comedy, Culture, Islam, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Television, Zaib Shaikh
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Indeed, actress Arlene Duncan has been leading a prominent career as a multitalented Canadian singer and actress, who has appeared in numerous television and feature film productions , including Puppets Who Kill, Regenesis, Degrassi: The Next Generation. The actress currently stars in CBC’s hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie, as the outspoken, strong-minded café owner, Fatema Dinssa.
With Arlene being kind enough to participate in a interview with us and Little Mosque progressing in its exciting fifth season, we took the chance to discuss the challenges of playing Fatema, how Arlene relates to the character, the actress’ experience of being a role model as a result of her role as Fatema , as well as the other acting projects which Arlene has been involved in and much more!
1.Although your previous roles have varied greatly from your current role as Fatima, how have you still been able to draw from your past experiences as an actress to enhance your performance as Fatima?
Coming from a Jamaican-Canadian background, I grew up surrounded by some very strong, independent women with gregarious personalities. I’d like to think I bring a lot of that experience to Fatima’s character. In the script she’s a ‘Nigerian Muslim café owner’, but to me, she is a mother, a businesswoman who speaks her mind and a woman who lives and expresses her faith and her culture. These qualities are pretty universal and I think that’s why so many people are able to relate to her
2. How familiar were you, with the religion of Islam, prior to being appointed the role of Fatima ?
I was only vaguely familiar with the Islamic religion but have learnt a great deal more while preparing for the role, through friendships I’ve made with Muslim women and with the help of our onset production advisors over the past five seasons.
3. How do you think Fatima has developed over the course of the series and what aspirations do you have for the character?
I think the character of Fatima has been pretty consistent over the past five seasons. I see her and the café as something of an anchor in the town of Mercy. She knows and has an opinion about everyone and everything, and can be depended on in her own quirky way, to give out comfort, a good meal and sound practical advice. I’ve also enjoyed the episodes where we find out more about her background and her personal life and would be thrilled to be able to explore that more! But it’s only a half hour comedy
4. How do you relate to the character of Fatima?
Playing Fatima is a lot of fun. I have always been attracted to other cultures, especially African culture and it’s a pleasure being able to bring to life such a strong-minded, straight-talking personality. Another one of the many benefits of playing Fatima is that unlike actresses on other television shows, due to her wardrobe, I have the luxury of never having to worry about a ‘bad hair day’ or stressing about my weight! Like a lot of people I was under the misguided impression that as a rule Islamic women were shy, quiet and reserved, so when I was offered the role I was a little apprehensive but Fatima and I do have a lot in common. We are both strong-minded, independent women, and I do love to cook–although I don’t have a team of clever writers giving me witty lines to say on a daily basis!
5. What has been the most challenging aspect in portraying Fatima and how have you coped with this challenge?
I feel that the most challenging aspect of playing Fatima has been of course, trying to consistently portray her African & Islamic culture authentically. With every script it’s my challenge to take the words off the page and ‘translate’ my lines into Fatima’s rhythm or accent. We have Islamic advisors on set that are always available to answer questions, solve problems and do things like: make sure that when shooting in warm weather that we strike a compromise when I challenge them on just how many layers I really need to keep on! Every season I shop for the newest batch of Nollywood movies that I keep running in my dressing room as part of my ‘background atmosphere’—I somehow think Fatima also, would enjoy watching her Nigerian movies as a way to keep in touch with her homeland
6. Fatima has had intimate encounters with both the characters of Fred and Baber. Which of the two would you prefer to see Fatima in a romantic relationship and why? What challenges do you see Fatima facing with the chosen character?
While I love both characters Fred and Baber, Fatima has very different relationships with each of them. Fred has a heart of gold but is publicly very anti-Muslim & Baber loves to rant and challenge everyone’s religious correct-ness which I think keeps him from just being able to relax and connect with other people. In a nutshell, they are both very complicated men who are ‘works in progress’! As actors we don’t know what plans the writers have for our characters, but I think if Fatima was going to have a real relationship, it would be very interesting if it was with some mysterious new character who comes to town to be a real match for her personality. We might see a whole new side to Ms. Fatima Dinssa
7. Could you please give us an idea as to the challenges and surprises, which are in store for Fatima this season?
Isn’t it more fun to see what happens as the season unfolds?
8. What has been your experience as a role model and why do you think the character of Fatima is so influential?
As I said before, I was under the misguided impression, like a lot of people, that Islamic women were generally a very unassuming oppressed group and I think it’s very eye-opening for people to see a character like Fatima, who is so much like your mother, sister, aunt or friend…no matter what religion or culture you might be from. When people recognize me from the show they often comment on how they relate to the things she does or know people who are just like her. There are also so few prominent actors of color on television today that I’m often asked to speak at youth and cultural events encouraging young artists and inspiring them by my example that it’s possible to pursue their dreams of a career in the arts. In 2009, I was named Honorary Chairman of Literature for Life, a Toronto-based organization created to engage at-risk young families in building a culture of literacy and learning—to invest in their own families and futures. In 2010, I was awarded by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton & the Government of Ontario, the Five Pillars Award for Arts & Culture.
9. Have you been working on any other acting projects, which you would like to share with viewers?
I have been able to work on a few other film and television projects since we finished shooting this season such as a comedic guest role as rival high school Principal Mooser on ‘Wingin’ It’ on the Family channel, and I’m looking forward to an upcoming musical theatre project later on in the year.
10. What message would you like to convey to fans of the series?
I would like the fans of Little Mosque on the Prairie and the readers of your blog to know that we really appreciate the support they’ve given us over these past five seasons and hope that they continue to enjoy following the adventures of the residents of the town of Mercy.
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Tags: Arlene Duncan, CBC, Fatema Dinssa, Islam, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Religion and Spirituality
Categories : Little Mosque on the Prairie