New Kansas City Play Promotes Awareness of and Respect for Religious Differences

April 6, 2004

Source: The Kansas City Star|Pluralism|N

On April 6, 2004 The Kansas City Star reported, "Increasing respect for religious differences is the goal behind a powerful new play titled 'The Hindu and the Cowboy ... and Other Kansas City Stories'...Donna Ziegenhorn designed the project and wrote 'The Hindu and the Cowboy.' 'This idea has been growing in my mind for a number of years,' Ziegenhorn said. 'It really comes out of my belief in the power of the lived experience. It's the power of story in dramatic form.' The project is the inspiration of the Mosiac Life Stories Task Force, a volunteer effort started in 2002 to promote interfaith diversity. To create her work, Ziegenhorn relied on seven researchers who collected and transcribed 80 interviews based primarily on one-on-one interviews with people throughout the area. Individuals interviewed were American Indian, Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Sikh, Dharma, Sufi, Unitarian, Universalist, Zoroastrian and Jain. The title of the play derives from one of its stories. When the Hindus were building their temple in the 1980s in Shawnee, the temple's president and his wife went to the site and saw what appeared to be a cowboy with a gun sitting on a horse. Researchers interviewed the cowboy, who explained that he was born in Shawnee and was dedicated to protecting the land around the temple. 'The cowboy is looking out, making sure nobody takes advantage of the Hindus or bring harm to the temple,' Ziegenhorn said. 'The Hindus are wondering, "Who is this guy?"'"