THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR MAY 2 - 8 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly


Sammy Obeid, Pygmalion Theatre Co.: Mother of the Maid, Hilary Thompson: Dear Mama in the Darkness, and more.

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Sammy Obeid
In all likelihood, Sammy Obeid would rather not be known for potentially controversial jokes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He could, perhaps, lean on his unique achievement of performing standup for 1,0001 consecutive days in the early 2010s. Or he could just tell jokes about being an alum of super-woke Berkeley, or ones predicated on his background as a math major, like he did in his great 2022 special Martyr in a Safe Space (available on YouTube).

Obeid, however, is a Palestinian-American. And at times over the years—like, oh, I don't know, right now, for example—building that identity into his act has led to some awkward moments. His YouTube channel includes several recent examples, including a show at a San Francisco private club where things got more than slightly testy after Obeid dove head-first into the current conflict in Gaza. But that hasn't made him shy away from being honest—and still very funny—about difficult subjects. It simply shouldn't surprise anyone planning on attending a Sammy Obeid show that his observational comedy isn't going to be innocuous just to make sure he avoids offense. Or as he put it during one show that was interrupted by a heckler, "Everybody loves political comedy—just not at the same time."

Sammy Obeid visits Wiseguys Comedy Club at The Gateway (190 S. 400 West) on Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m. for a show that's almost guaranteed to get a little spicy. Tickets are $30; visit for tickets and additional event information. (Scott Renshaw)

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Pygmalion Theatre Co.: Mother of the Maid
As a historical figure, Joan of Arc is fascinating—a young girl with religious visions turned into military leader during a tumultuous time. It's easy to forget that that young girl would have had a mother, and that it might have been a particularly difficult thing to deal with such a ... unique child. That's the premise behind Jane Anderson's 2015 play Mother of the Maid, which approaches the story of Joan of Arc through the eyes of her mother, Isabelle.

Teresa Sanderson—who directs Pygmalion Productions' staging of Mother of the Maid, with April Fossen in the role of Isabelle—says she was fascinated with Anderson's text on every possible level, but was particularly drawn to the dynamic between the two main characters and how it speaks to complexities in parent-child relationships. "What would it be like to have a child come to you and say this?" Sanderson says. "You can imagine your child coming to you and saying a lot of things, but this? It helped me think about parenting in a different way: How do you let them blossom the right way, and how do you know what the right way is? How do you say, 'Okay, go do that?'"

Pygmalion Productions presents Mother of the Maid at the Rose Wagner Center Black Box (138 W. 300 South) May 3 – 18, with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 - $22.50; visit to purchase tickets or for additional event information. (SR)

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Hilary Thompson: Dear Mama in the Darkness
It's one of the most nightmarish scenarios that any parent can face: a medical crisis for a child. Feelings of helplessness can become overwhelming, making it difficult to deal with or think about anything else. And many of those to whom you would ordinarily turn for help and support can't quite understand what you're going through.

Salt Lake City-based Certified Life Coash Hilary Thompson, however, does understand, having dealt with unimaginable reality of a child who required a heart transplant. In her new book Dear Mama in the Darkness: Encouragement to Light the Way for Parents of Medically Complex Kids, Thompson shares her insights in the form of letters written over the course of 11 years. She hopes to offer encouragement and hope to those who might not know how to take care of themselves, while they are so immersed in thinking about taking care of their child. In ways that are by turns funny and emotionally devastating, Dear Mama in the Darkness presents ways of re-imagining such challenging times in ways that can be inspiring and empowering.

Hilary Thompson presents thoughts from Dear Mama in the Darkness at two upcoming events sponsored by The King's English Bookshop. On Tuesday, May 7 at 6 p.m., Thompson joins a virtual Zoom conversation, with registration available via Eventbrite at Then, on Saturday, April 11 at 1 p.m., Thompson comes to The King's English (1511 S. 1500 East) for an in-person book signing and author meet. Visit for additional event information. (SR)

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