"Blondie of Arabia has all the elements of what makes a monologue profound. It has as its base great inspiration from a real life experience; it has a provocative cause and then adds an extremely talented writer and performer on top of that. Hunken is a monologist to be watched. This is solo performance at its very best." - nytheatre.com review
The true story of an American Woman’s bicycle journey through the heart of the Middle East. Alone.
A solo performance written, performed (and lived) by MONICA HUNKEN
Directed by LAURA NEWMAN
Lighting Design by Evan True and Jessica Lynn Hinkle
Sound Design by Monica Hunken and Benjamin Cerf
Produced at The Living Theatre
21 Clinton St.
Ran September 22nd to Oct. 9th 2010
Running time: 80 mins
Blondie of Arabia has toured throughout Europe playing to full houses, garnering awards, great audience response and positive press everywhere.
read it here:
Two weeks before Christmas, Monica flew into the heart of the Persian Gulf to work a catering job at a royal wedding party and ended up biking across three countries in the Middle East. Alone. This play chronicles the true story of her desert odyssey. Watch the broke, blonde American swerve her bicycle through close encounters with military capture, sex tourism, Gulf royalty, three wedding parties and near death. As Monica perseveres in her adventure as a parade of one, defeating trouble at every turn, indulging her super-hero fetishism, she discovers her biggest adversary might be herself.
The Future of Blondie of Arabia:
We plan to take this show on the road, or more specifically on a bike. Blondie of Arabia is getting ready for a European bicycle tour in late Spring 2011!
If you have any contacts with theaters, producers, biking communities, women’s organizations throughout Europe, please let us know!
We could use any help we can get.
For ideas, contacts, donations, etc.: Contact:
Join Blondie on Facebook
Download Press Release
Richard Hinojosa · September 22, 2010
I think the first thing that you might say to writer/performer Monica Hunken after she tells you that she rode her bike across three countries in the Middle East, where a woman on a bicycle can be considered indecent, is "Why would you do that?" followed by, "That's crazy." And you wouldn't be lying; it is crazy...and bold and maybe even a little arrogant, but at the same time it's an incredibly selfless act of protest that strikes out at repression and inequality. Not to mention it's brave as can be.
Her desert odyssey starts with a catering gig. But not just any catering gig—it's a royal gig...literally. She lands a job working the wedding of the Crown Prince of Qatar but she has bigger plans for after the wedding. She is going to be a "bicycle ambassador provocateur"! At first the plan was to bike across a huge chunk of the planet in what she calls her "ring around Iraq," but she quickly learns that just isn't going to happen. Her revised plan takes her across Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Along the way she is honked at and gawked at, ogled and honored, come on to and even proposed to. She is met with wonderful generosity and kindness as well as discrimination and harassment. The people she meets—a bookish Egyptian, an astonished Jordanian woman, the Bedouin Johnny Depp—all know one thing about Hunken: she is an extraordinary person.
It is not surprising that an incredible journey such as Hunken's would inspire a great show. She gives us a performance filled with all the flavor of the exotic scenes and character of the people. Hunken excels at detailed and vivid descriptions of everything she sees and smells and hears. She is funny and honest. Her writing has a nice balance of good travel writing and performance writing. She divides her story into three acts that build perfectly on each other. I really like the way the story unfolds. It is packed with danger and triumph and lots of memorable characters.
Hunken's character work is refined and nuanced. She has an excellent ear for accents. She introduces us to a lot people that have similar accents but she always manages to find a distinction in the lilt or tone or posture of each character. It was like I was meeting a new person every time. Her performance is absolutely fantastic. She exposes herself as vulnerable to both the kindness and the harassment and yet she never loses her enormous inner strength. She also doesn't shy away from answering tough questions that were really asked of her on her travels. She helped me to understand a little why she would want to ride her bike across three Middle Eastern countries. The show is supported by some solid direction from Laura Newman and an evocative light design courtesy of Jessica Lynn Hinkle and Evan True. The soundtrack is also great, even gets a few laughs, but I'm not sure who is responsible for that. I loved that we get to see some real pictures from the journey we just experienced at the very end. That's a nice button.
Blondie of Arabia has all the elements of what makes a monologue profound. It has as its base great inspiration from a real life experience; it has a provocative cause and then adds an extremely talented writer and performer on top of that. Hunken is a monologist to be watched. This is solo performance at its very best.
“… A performance of passion and politics, humour and hope. Following the true story of Monica Hunken’s courageous voyage, unarmed and unafraid, across hostile territory presents us with a triumph of the soul…”
- Judith Malina, founder of The Living Theatre
Blondie is a roller coaster of wonderment... not to be missed
Monica goes on this adventure. I hear about it from her Facebook postings, I start to realize, this woman is putting herself out there in the middle east, in some amped out "real life" adventure, without a safety net. It's keeping me glued, waiting for her next cryptic posting. She goes off the radar several times and it was kind of intense. Will she come out of this thing alive... well yes, she did... and puts this show together.
Blondie of Arabia. Is great American story telling.
Monica takes us on this adventure, giving us the opportunity to relive these moments with her. We enter into cultures, and living rooms we think we know nothing about. We meet people through her eyes, and it's such a vivid experience.
She is smart and heartfelt, it's burst out laughing funny and moments where she took my breathe away.
How did she do this.. Get tickets while you can, so you can experience it for yourself... seriously, it's that good.
– peter, East Village
“The life-confession form of monologue has had its day. People thought the heedless self-congratulation of 70's performance art strangled it forever. But then a Ruth Draper or Richard Pryor or Spalding Gray comes along and makes the pretensions of talking about your own life for an hour beside the point because the audience doesn't notice time is passing. I had such a sensation with Monica Hunken's "Blondie of Arabia," a monologue with acted characters, dance gestures and a bicycle, which explores the being-and-nothingness on the shoulders of middle-eastern roads with names like "Snake Highway." Hunken is a six foot blonde woman who looks like monstrous Barbie to the people native to the Islamic regions where she bikes, a cultural free-fall into loneliness and danger and vivid awkward love. This is a reconstruction of relationship with people that Americans either buy or war with. That's not the point, though, and if it were we would be back at the moralizing monologue. "Blondie of Arabia" is a double-taking project that sheers away most of the commons sense the audience might have had walking into the theater. Story-telling comes back to life as the life we witness is always almost ending, and must convincingly survive.”
- Rev Billy Talen, The Church of Life After Shopping
Un-missable story telling
I happened on a preview performance of this extraordinary show and was one of the best performances I've seen by a solo actor all year. I lost count of the characters that Monica plays in this rollicking good tale and all of them with such amazing depth and compassion, you truly go on this journey with her. Don't miss this, you'll be hearing more about this artist in times to come!
– Andrew Gage, New York
“In happier Bike news, a small DL contingent descended upon the Living Theatre way down on Clinton street to attend the opening night of an excellent one-woman show entitled “Blondie of Arabia” written by and staring Monica Hunken. The show was a theatrical re-cap of Monica’s recent Middle Eastern travels via her 2 wheeled self-powered transportation. When the show began she was dressed as a Superhero, a fitting guise for someone who crossed 3 arid countries as a single woman in an extremely male chauvinist culture-on bicycle. She kept the audience captivated with her fascinating, hilarious, and sometimes horrifying experiences.”
-Brian Tannenbaum Bike (Mis)Adventures
“Thank you so much for doing this. totally awe inspiring.”
“This was amazing!! If anyone is sitting on the fence about going... Go!”
“ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!!!! I HOPE IT GETS ANOTHER RUN BE
CAUSE ONE WEEKEND IS NOT ENOUGH. I COULD SEE THIS PLAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN. MONICA, YOU ARE INCREDIBLY WONDERFUL!!!!!!!”
“We saw Monica Hunken's new solo work last nite: Blondie of Arabia. Middle East by bike. Alone. A gem.”
10% of proceeds go to support Follow the Women www.followthewomen.com an international organization comprised of over 500 women who go on long bike pilgrimages to support peace and an end to violence in the Middle East.