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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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April 7: Multimedia Somali Artist Ifrah Mansour

Event is in Halling Recital Hall.

2018-04-09

MANKATO – The Minnesota State Mankato Performance Series will host an evening with Ifrah Mansour staging her solo show, “How to Have Fun in a Civil War” Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, housed in Minnesota State Mankato’s Earley Center for Performing Arts.

Admission is free.

Mansour is an internationally recognized Somali artist and educator. As a female Muslim refugee, she uses her art to connect and bridge different cultures and generations. She has become known for her uniquely humorous approach to exploring trauma through the eyes of children.

“I am thrilled to offer this production to the campus and regional community,” said Dale Haefner, Performance Series director at Minnesota State Mankato. “Grant funding has created many opportunities for both campus and community members to build meaningful relationships with our Muslim neighbors. The arts are an excellent means of communication and a way to strengthen understanding between different cultures.”

Mansour was born in Saudi Arabia and by the time her family returned to their native Somalia a few years later it was too late. Civil war broke out, the government collapsed, and Mansour’s family—her parents, five siblings, and herself—soon left for a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, one of the oldest and largest in the world.

When her family eventually came to the United States they lived in Texas for a short while. Eventually Mansour moved to Minneapolis and now lives among the largest Somali diaspora community in the country.

But at 31 she hasn’t followed the Somali immigrant path that she or anyone else expected.

“I was doing what everyone was doing, which is to go to college and seek a degree that will financially stabilize you and your extended family,” she says. “I was on track for elementary education. My life was set. I was going to be the perfect kindergarten teacher.”

Then she discovered her penchant for performance.

With “How to Have Fun in a Civil War,” Mansour revisits her childhood memories during the 1991 Somali civil war to confront violent history with humor and provide a voice for the stories of children.

“How to Have Fun in a Civil War” is a one-act, 70-minute multimedia play, which explores war from an idyllic viewpoint of a 7-year-old Somali girl. The play layers multiple narratives taken from 16 anonymous community interviewees to tell a captivating story about resilience while pushing the audience to engage in a healing process that is still raw for survivors of the war.

For more information about the event, go to www.mnsu.edu/music or call the Performance Series office, (507) 389-5549.

About the Midnimo Grant

In September 2016, the Minnesota State Mankato Performance Series received funding to
carry out projects that expand awareness of Somali arts and culture in the Mankato area. Funding is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art partnering with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

The program serves as a unique medium for the two foundations to support mission-critical projects that demonstrate the power of the arts to strengthen and increase intercultural understanding in our community.

The grant project, Midnimo (Somali for “unity”), features weeklong residencies and individual performance and presentations as part of the Midnimo Presents series.

So far over the life of the grant period, the Performance Series has presented one week-long residency, a number of concert performances and visits to District 77 and University classrooms. Midnimo Presents will offer three additional events in early April 2018. Another week-long residency scheduled for October 2018 will feature London-based performer Aar Maanta and The Urban Nomads.

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