Pray to Ball

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By Natasha Lewin

From l, Y’lan Noel, Ulka Simone Mohanty, Amir Abdullah, and Rickie Peete in Skylight Theatre’s “Pray to Ball.”

From l, Y’lan Noel, Ulka Simone Mohanty, Amir Abdullah, and Rickie Peete in Skylight Theatre’s “Pray to Ball.”

From racist remarks to religious discrimination, it seems like every time you turn on the news someone somewhere is spewing hate. While boycotts and anger only further the backlash of intolerance, ignorance is best dealt with using creative outlets to further spread education and understanding. This strategy is perhaps best witnessed by Amir Abdullah’s first full-length play, Pray to Ball.

Pray to Ball examines the relationship of two best friends and their views on religion, both on and off the basketball court. Superstar college athletes Lou (played by an outstanding Abdullah) and Hakeem (an equally intense and captivating Y’lan Noel) are on the rise to the NBA. After the death of his mother, Hakeem begins to question his purpose, his strength, and what really matters to him in the long run. After a flyer for an on-campus Muslim student center gets pushed under their dorm room door, fists and friendships fly between childhood friends split by prejudice.

By juxtaposing the treasured allure of American athletes against the downtrodden disregard religious discipline receives, Abdullah sparks an emotional and thought-provoking dialogue on present-day perspectives toward finding faith. Pray to Ball is an honest look at how our choices — both sacred and superficial — are at the heart of craving acceptance.

Pray to Ball runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 25 at the Skylight Theater located at 1816 ½ N. Vermont in L.A. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at (213) 761-7061 or skylighttix.com.

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