The Fifth String: Ziryab’s Passage to Cordoba World Premiere
By Torange Yeghiazarian with the Fifth String ensemble
Original Music by Faraz Minooei
Production Design by Mokhtar Paki
Commissioned by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California.
Coming Back in 2015!
Meet Ziryab, the 9th-century musician and cultural icon, in this family-friendly new play with live music: a musical genius, a star of the Baghdad court, and a fashion innovator. The Fifth String playfully tells the story of his beginnings in Iraq, his life as an immigrant to Cordoba, and his lasting contributions in music, fashion, and culture that continue to reverberate today. Widely credited with adding a fifth string to the oud and with introducing Persian and Arabic influences to Spanish music, his life becomes an inspiration for this modern retelling as a story-within-a-story in the tradition of 1001 Nights. Written and directed by Torange Yeghiazarian, The Fifth String is multifaceted performance created collaboratively with an ensemble of actors, clowns, and musicians. Part of Golden Thread’s Islam 101 initiative, the play features original music composed by Faraz Minooei and production design by Mokhtar Paki. Appropriate for ages 6 and up | Running time: Approximately 70 min
|Torange Yeghiazarian Playwright/Director
is the Founding Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East, where she launched such visionary programs as ReOrient Festival & Forum, Middle East America (in partnership with the Lark and Silkroad Rising), Islam 101 (with Hafiz Karmali), New Threads, and the Fairytale Players. Torange’s plays include ISFAHAN BLUES, 444 DAYS, THE FIFTH STRING: ZIRYAB’S PASSAGE TO CORDOBA, and CALL ME MEHDI. She is currently under commission by Philip Kan Gotanda to adapt his seminal play, THE WASH to an Armenian setting. Awards include the Gerbode-Hewlett Playwright Commission Award (ISFAHAN BLUES) and a commission by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (THE FIFTH STRING). Her short play CALL ME MEHDI is published in the anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009. Torange adapted the poem, I SELL SOULS by Simin Behbehani to the stage, and directed the premieres of SCENIC ROUTES by Yussef El Guindi, THE MYTH OF CREATION by Sadegh Hedayat, TAMAM by Betty Shamieh, STUCK by Amir Al-Azraki and VOICE ROOM by Reza Soroor, amongst others. Her articles on contemporary theatre in Iran have been published in The Drama Review (2012), American Theatre Magazine (2010), and Theatre Bay Area Magazine (2010), and HowlRound. Torange has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and Cambridge World Encyclopedia of Stage Actors. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.
|Moktar Paki Production Designer
is a Bay Area visual artist, art teacher, and sometimes architectural designer. Mokhtar is the production designer on The Fifth String: Ziryab’s Passage to Cordoba. He also designed the puppets and props on 21 Days that Change the Year. In 2012, Mokhtar designed dozens of puppets for the shadow-play, Jana and Baladoor, written and directed by Bahram Beyzaie. Mokhtar’s visual art has been shown at the Persian Center, Canessa Gallery, Intersection for The Arts, and Oliver Gallery. His caricatures and illustrations have appeared in local as well as European publications. Mokhtar has an MA in Creative Writing, and has published several short stories and articles. His novel Shamayel-e-Mana was published in Sweden and Iran. His second novel, Shahrzad the Silent in under publication.
|Faraz Minooei Music Director
was born in Tehran and began playing santur at the young age of nine. While studying with Behnam Mehrabi, he discovered a deep spiritual desire to study music, seeing music as an “unexplainable souvenir from the eternal truth”. Faraz received his B.A. from San Francisco State University in 2008 as a Nagle Scholar and the first World/Jazz music major with santur as his primary instrument! As a full-time musician, Faraz is a performer, composer, ethno-musicologist and teacher. He views studying music as a never-ending mission. In view of that, he has also had the good fortune to study with masters such as M. R. Lotfi, H. Omoumi, Royal Hartigan, Hafez Modirzadeh, Michael Dessen, Kojiro Umezaki and Christopher Dobrian. Since 2006, he has lectured and performed at many universities including SFSU, UCI, UCLA, UCSC Stanford University and at the Society of Ethnomusicology. He has performed with noted ensembles in the United Sates, among which was his collaboration in 2009 with Yo Yo Ma and Kayhan Kalhor in the Silk Road Ensemble (for the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln Center) and the collaboration as a composer and santur player with the film director Bahram Beyzaie for the play “Jana & Baladour”. Recipient of numerous scholarships and grants, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree in music with emphasis in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology from the University of California in Irvine. His thesis, “Abstracting” Iranian Classical Music, challenges the traditional practice of Iranian Classical Music to introduce innovative and transformative functions of the music in contemporary society.
|Ali Bazyar Musician
Born in 1980 Tehran, Iran, Ali began his Tombak training under master Bakhtiari at nine years of age. Ali also trained with Master Bahman Rajabi and Mohammad Tayebi. Ali performed with different ensembles in Iran before leaving the country in 2004. After resettling in the US, he began experimenting with other world percussions such as Cajon, Dejembe, and Udu. Ali Bazyar currently resides in San Francisco Bay Area. He is engaged and is collaborating as a versatile percussionist with various established musicians and bands while continuing academic pursuit in music.
|Gari Haggerty Musician
has been performing traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, France, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa for the past twenty years. Gari performs on a wide range of traditional instruments including: Oud, violin, Turkish Saz, Yayli Tambor, Irish pennywhistle, Mandocello and flute. He began devoting his life to music with the study of Celtic and Bretagne music. From there he was led eastward into the intense practice and performance of Turkish classical and Mevlevi ceremonial music. He toured with the Mevlevi Dervish Order of America for several years, and continues to participate in Turkish ceremonial and devotional gatherings around the country. A highly sought after recording and performing artist, Gary’s repertoire and playing styles range from Turkey and Greece into the Arab lands, Iran and India. Gari’s main instruments are the oud, violin, saz and mandocello, yet he began his musical career with fiddle and mandolin, and had devoted a decade of his life to the violin before learning of his ancestral Hungarian name, Hegedus, meaning “violinist.” As a composer and performer, Gari has developed the art of taksim (improvisation) to a deeply soulful level for which he has become highly recognized.
is a San Francisco-Bay Area actor and musician. Born in Iraq but raised in the deep south of the Unitted States, delta blues influenced his music and his love of folklore. He moved to the bay area in 1992 and has spent many years in South America, North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East living, traveling, and learning the music and instruments of those regions. As an actor, Munaf has performed in several plays including performances in the ReOerient Festival 2012, Burqavaganza, 10 Acrobats, Aftermath, and Urge For Going.
After being raised in central California by a family of eccentrics, Jamie studied theatre arts in Santa Fe, music in San Luis Obispo and education in San Francisco. Clown being the next logical step, Jamie completed two years of study at the Clown Conservatory at San Francisco Circus Center. Jamie has traveled the globe performing and teaching music, theater, and clown. He has worked with Flynn Creek Circus, Circus of Sound, New Pickle Circus, Sweet Can Circus, Circus Bella, The Pickle’s School Tour, and is one half of the award winning clown duet, Coventry and Kaluza. He is also the co-creator of a band that hearkens back to the days of vaudeville, the harmonica trio, Tin Sandwich.
is very excited to return to Golden Thread after being involved in its workshop of The Fifth String this summer. He is a recent graduate of the Professional Training Program at Dell’Arte Internatinal School of Physical Theatre where he explored mask, clown, and melodrama in an ensemble-based setting. His recent work includes an acclaimed one-man show, Blood Fruit about how he came out to his Catholic-Iraqi family. Visit majdmurad.com for more information on his projects. Majd is also an aspiring mask maker specializing in leather. Check out his work on artemasks.com.
is a native of Tajikistan. He holds BA degree in music from Tajikistan’s University of Art and Culture. Since childhood Maruf has had a love of music, theater and film. Maruf first began acting for Tajik TV and has since transitioned to his working behind the camera as a freelance filmmaker. Maruf first worked with Golden Thread in Rumi x 7 and admires Golden Thread’s pursuit to bring to the stage his shared culture to American audiences.
| Olivia Rosaldo-Pratt
Olivia Rosaldo Pratt
A Bay Area native and UC Berkeley graduate, Olivia is thrilled to be returning to Golden Thread’s stage where she was last seen in 444 Days. She has performed with Portland’s Sojourn Theatre, Seattle’s Mandala Institute, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Locally she has worked with Crowded Fire Theater, New Conservatory Theatre, Quixotic Players and Central Works.
is a songstress, musician and educator who is thrilled to be making her Golden Thread debut in The Fifth String. After receiving her M.A. in Postcolonial Anthropology in San Francisco, Naima turned her focus toward music and song as vessels for story-telling, healing and movement building. Believing in the power of sharing messages from the soul through sound, Shalhoub immersed herself in her cultural roots in Lebanon and started writing her own music embracing both joy and sorrow, and the spaces between. In 2010 she began performing her music in the Bay Area, getting featured on radio stations and reputable venues, and began building fan bases internationally such as in Beirut and Kashmir. Naima recently released her first single and music video “herstory of soul,” and is currently teaching, performing, and working on her debut full-length album.
Adrienne Shamszad is honored to be making her debut with Golden Thread Productions. Adrienne is a singer-songwriter, musician, actress, yogini and teacher born and raised in Oakland California. She spent her childhood and formative years in the theater and has spent her young adulthood teaching, performing, recording and writing music professionally. Her Persian roots strongly influence her unique blend of folk, soul and rock. She is a fun and powerful performer that infuses story-telling and comedy into her live shows. To find out more about Adrienne’s music and whereabouts, visit
At ODC Theatre (3153 17th Street, SF CA 94110)
December 4 at 8:00pm | December 5 at 8:00pm | December 6 at 8:00pm | December 7 at 3:00pmBuy tickets
Appropriate for ages 8 and up | Running time: Approximately 80 min
ODC Theatre 3153 17th Street, SF CA 94110
ODC is accessible by BART, just a short walk from the 16th Street/Mission BART Station and near the following Muni Bus Lines: 12, 14, 22, 33, 49, & 53. This transit Trip Planner can help you find the best options. 511.org
Street parking is also available.
The Fifth String: Ziryab’s Passage to Cordoba
The family-friendly production with original music takes a playful look at a musical genius and 9th-century cultural trail-blazer. Appropriate for 3rd to 12th Grades
Bring your class to experience contemporary themes from and about the Middle East. We offer a truly unique opportunity for all High School students to experience professional multicultural theater that resonates with present-day themes, such as immigration, identity, displacement, political upheaval, and finding home. Study guides correlate play topics with California Educational Content Standards.
Golden Thread took our students out of their realities for 70 minutes to present them with universal truths-that the history of different cultures shape our own, that knowledge results in power, and that change is an inevitable component of our existence. Coupled with exposure to live music, our trip was an engaging feast for the senses.” – Mick Terrizzi, St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School
Date and Time: Friday, December 5th at 1pm | Location: ODC Theatre (3153 17th Street, SF CA 94110)
Running Time: Approximately 80 minutes
Photos By Javier Machado