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Time & The Mystery: Arian Moayed

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Mike Mangione
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Milwaukee-area musician Mike Mangione's podcast, called Time & The Mystery, is described as a series of artist-to-artist conversations with musicians, actors, comedians and others about the philosophy behind what they do and how they connect with their audience.

Our monthly series with Mangione, highlights some of his favorite conversations. This month, we take a look back at his chat with Arian Moayed, who is not only a well-acclaimed actor but is also an old friend of Mangione's from high school. 

Moayed is currently in the Broadway show The Humans, which just won the Tony for Best Play. He has been in several films, including Rock the Kasbah and Rosewater. But the actor is perhaps most well-known for his work in the Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which earned him a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play.

The play starred Robin Williams as the tiger, and Moayed played the Iraqi interpreter. One night, a group of Iraqi refugees went to see the show, and Moayed recounts the emotional experience of meeting and speaking with this group of people. 

"They got to see on this massive level, at the Richard Roger, 1,400-seat theater, on Broadway; they got to see a fully fleshed out Iraqi character, which I'm guaranteeing you they've never seen before because it just doesn't exist," says Moayed. "It doesn't happen. A guy that's not good, a guy that's not bad. And I started talking these guys, they had some broken English... and at one point, the lead gentleman that was there, he says to me, he goes, 'I just want to thank you for telling our story.'"

The next night after the show, Moayed had a similar experience with a man from the other side of the narrative. It was Fleet Week in New York, when the city is flooded with active members of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

After the show, Moayed was approached by a large man, wearing a uniform. "And he's like, 'Hey man, can you sign my thing.' [He's] a tall, white guy. And he goes, 'Hey man, seriously, thanks for telling our story,'" Moayed recalls. "That was the next night. So now all of a sudden, we have done a play that is telling the Iraqi side of things and is also telling the American side of things. And that's the possibility of theater, that's the potential of what art can do." 

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