Forum Exploring the Middle East
Think you know the Middle East? Think again! With talkbacks, panels, roundtable conversations, a family show, and a recital for Arabic music lovers, ReOrient 2015 is an artistic celebration and political exploration of this transforming region for curious and engaged theatre lovers and those passionate about international themes.
Saturday, October 3, 9am-6:15pm
Sunday, October 4, 9:30am-6pm
at Z Space (450 Florida Street, SF)
Nowhere else will you find such an esteemed group of international artists, scholars, and activists leading bold conversations about theatre and the Middle East. All panels are free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on Howlround.com.
Saturday, October 3
Welcome by Torange Yeghiazarian
Golden Thread Productions Founding Artistic Director
Keynote address: Sunaina Maira
Youth, Activism, and Arts: Cultures of Protest/Protesting Culture
Art is an important medium of protest in the Middle East and across the world. How can artistic expression challenge the dominant assumptions about Muslim and Middle Eastern youth and communities in the US? What does it mean for protest culture to also protest cultural norms and hierarchies—of race, religion, class, gender, and sexuality? Maira will draw on her research on Palestinian, Afghan, and South Asian American youth culture and activism. The talk will be followed by a dialogue with the audience.
Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching focus on Asian and Arab American youth, citizenship, and popular culture. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and co-editor of books including Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award. Her recent publications include the book, Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire After 9/11, and Jil [Generation] Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and the Youth Movement, based on ethnographic research in Palestine. Her new book project is a study of South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American youth in the Bay Area and post-9/11 activism focused on civil and human rights and issues of sovereignty and surveillance in the War on Terror.
Project Alo? An International Mobile Video Play
Sponsor: Theatre Communications Group
Chair: Fatima Zahra El Filali
Speakers: Select Project Alo? participants, via Google Hangout.
Our ability to engage in theatre collaborations across borders, particularly with artists living in the Middle East has been curtailed by lack of funding and politics. How can we create opportunities for collaboration among otherwise disconnected individuals that are cost-effective, manageable and have the potential to lead to long term relationships? Golden Thread’s Project Alo? teamed up 5 pairs of artists to engage in performative conversations using 1 minute video clips captured on their cell phones. The end result is video dialogues that are intimate, imaginative and reflect the need for connection.
Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation: Performance as Space for Social and Cultural Restoration
Sponsor: University of San Francisco, Performing Arts & Social Justice Program
Chair: Roberto Varea (Associate Professor, Performing Arts & Social Justice, University of San Francisco)
Panelists: Claudia Bernardi (Artist, wallsofhope.org), L.M. Bogad (Author, Artist, Activist), Amie Dowling (Artist, Scholar, well contested sites), Philip Kan Gotanda (Playwright, Performer, Director)
In the midst or aftermath of social conflict, or while enduring ongoing structural violence, the task of restoring the torn social fabric of affected communities and sustaining oppressed identities is formidable and relentless. Artists and cultural workers often play a central role in sustaining identity –and humanity, through their creative work. This panel asks: how does performance (or art) contribute to accessing cultural memory, sustaining resistance practices and, if possible, facilitating reconciliation processes? What can the creative imagination unlock that may make breakthroughs possible? Is it possible to engage “the other” through a performance work that may reveal a common humanity?
Divided Stages: 50 Years of Performing Iran in the U.S.
Sponsor: Diaspora Arts Connection
Chair: Babak Rahimi (University of California, San Diego)
Panelists: Mahmood Karimi-Hakak (Professor, Creative Arts, Sienna College, Albany, NY), Aida Keikhaeii (Actor, Tehran and Toronto), Nahal Navidar (Playwright, Los Angeles), Bella Warda (Actor and Director, Darvag, Berkeley), Mohammad Yaghoubi (Playwright and Director, Tehran and Toronto), Torange Yeghiazarian (Playwright and Director, Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco)
Iranian theatre artists have been active outside Iran since the 1960s. Responding to revolutions, coups, and various forms of political pressure, they have created performances that reflect an evolving national identity outside Iran’s geographic borders. What is the impetus for creating “Iranian theatre” outside Iran and how has the process changed through the decades? Four generations of Iranian theatre directors and playwrights will discuss their hopes and challenges in producing plays from and about Iran on North American stages.
Orientations: Queering the Intersections of Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Religion and “Middle Eastern” Diasporic Communities
Co-Chairs: Kamee Abrahamian and lee williams boudakian (Dear Armen, Vancouver)
Panelists: Cybling (Hye-Phen Magazine, Los Angeles), Rose Nemet (Hye-Phen Magazine, Los Angeles), Anoushka Ratnarajah (Vancouver and New York City), Maryam Farnaz Rostami (MFR Productions/Nicole Kidman Is Fucking Gorgeous, San Francisco), Manish V (Peacock Rebellion, San Francisco)
It can often feel like one has to choose between queerness or ethnicity. So called feminist, queer and trans* communities can feel whitewashed, and yet our ethnic communities and families can feel rigid, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, and conservative. Still, there are many of us who inhabit a multitude of intersecting identities—refusing to make a choice and standing firm in our understanding that “either/or” reduces the nuances and complexities of our ethnic communities and our struggles for survival in the face of ongoing imperialism, displacement, and trauma. And so, we must contend with the inevitable questions: In what ways do we (re)claim queerness as brown and ethnic? In what ways do we (re)claim our ethnicities and religions as queer? And, what role does art play in these acts of reclamation? This panel explores what living at the intersections looks like, along with the masks, cultural myths, false dichotomies, in-between states, and shape-shifting that makes movement between multiple worlds possible. This is also and ultimately a conversation about how art and performance can act as a bridge between inherently linked but seemingly opposing experiences and identities.
Sunday, October 4
Theatre Between Home and Exile: New Palestinian Voices
Sponsor: Theatre Without Borders
Co-Chairs: Dr. Mas’ud Hamdan (Professor, University of Haifa, and Playwright and Scholar, Haifa) and Professor Rebekah Maggor (Affiliate at the Warren Center, Harvard University, and Translator and Scholar, Boston)
Panelists: Yasser Abu Shaqra (Playwright, Damascus. Residing in Turkey, via Skype), Rama Haydar (Playwright, Damascus. Residing in Granada), Hannah Khalil (Playwright, London), Ismail Khalidi (Playwright, New York), Dalia Taha (Playwright, Ramallah)
This performance and discussion forum on new Palestinian drama will bring together six playwrights from Palestine and the Diaspora, including a writer living and working in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, two Palestinian refugees who grew up in Syria and are now living in Turkey and Spain, and two dramatists of Palestinian descent writing in English in the U.S. and U.K. While the theme of identity and belonging tends to dominate plays written in English for Western audiences, issues of oppression, poverty, and corruption often stand at the center of works created within Palestine and the Arab World. Despite stark differences between them, how might these plays and writers join in solidarity with one another politically or aesthetically? This forum will offer a glimpse into exciting new works and a provocative and candid conversation on contemporary Palestinian theatre.
This panel will conclude with the exclusive launch of Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora, a new anthology edited by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi, that brings together work by six dynamic Palestinian playwrights from both occupied Palestine and the Diaspora.
This panel was made possible by generous funding from the Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program.
Is Hyphenated Theatre Dead? Supporting Culturally-Specific Voices in an Increasingly Multifarious America
Sponsor: Theatre Bay Area
Chair: Brad Erickson (Theatre Bay Area)
Panelists: Steven Anthony Jones (Lorraine Hansberry Theatre), Sherri Young (African-American Shakespeare Company), Pearl Wong (Asian-American Theatre Company), Mina Morita (Crowded Fire Theatre Company), Ed Decker (New Conservatory Theater Center), Thomas Simpson (AfroSolo), Lily Tung Crystal (Ferocious Lotus)
The landscape of culturally-specific theatre in the Bay Area has shifted dramatically. National models such as the Traveling Jewish Theatre have closed. Longstanding organizations such as the Asian-American Theater Company and the Lorraine Hansberry have been quiet. How will culturally-specific voices be represented? Are the days of hyphenated theatre over? As we move towards an ever more multifaceted population, are artists and audiences reluctant to align themselves with one cultural identity alone? This session will be conducted in a highly-interactive “fishbowl” format.
SEE THE PLAYS!
The ReOrient Festival 2015
ReOrient Festival 2015 will once again turn San Francisco into a Mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from and about the Middle East. Featuring stories about Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, England, and the U.S., the latest ReOrient promises to be a one-of-a-kind exploration of the diversity of this unique region and its theater, stories, and artists.
Featuring eight short plays by leading and emerging Middle Eastern writers from around the world presented in two series in rep, ReOrient 2015 is the signature program for Golden Thread Productions, the country’s first theatre company to focus on the Middle East.
September 10-October 4, 2015 at Z Below (470 Florida Street, San Francisco)
Visit the ReOrient 2015 page for more information on the Festival.
ReOrient 2015 features two additional performances for families and music lovers as part of the ReOrient Forum weekend.
ReOrient Festival and Forum takes place at Z Below (470 Florida Street, SF) and Z Space (450 Florida Street, SF) in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission district. All festival venues are wheelchair accessible.
The Sir Francis Drake Hotel is conveniently located 2.5 miles from the location of Festival and Forum, and is approximately 15 minutes away by car or bus. Our group discount expired on September 18, but the hotel still has rooms available.
Make Your Reservation Today! Click Here For those attending The Forum we suggest arrival on Friday, October 2 and departure on Monday, October 5.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-227-5480
If you’re driving, please note that there is only street-parking available near the theater and that can be often difficult to find in this neighborhood on the weekends. Please allow yourself plenty of time to comfortably find a spot.
Accessible from bus lines 27, 9, 21, 33, 49 & 14.
The area is filled with great restaurants for all tastes and budget levels. Here are a few we’ve selected for you within walking distance of the theaters.
Coffee Bar (1890 Bryant Street, SF) Right across the street from the theater complex, Coffee Bar is great for a quick bite and delicious coffee. Some great baked goods, too.
Evergreen Garden Restaurant (3100 18th Street, SF) Pho, spring rolls & rice dishes are among the Vietnamese specialties offered in a casual setting. Very affordable.
Universal Café (2814 19th Street, SF) Informal New American spot great for brunch and dinner with its seasonal menu that changes every day.
Blowfish Sushi (2170 Bryant Street, SF) An eclectic sushi bar and restaurant that serves both modern and traditional sushi, and Asian-fusion dishes. Great sake and cocktail selection. Fun atmosphere, including anime playing on screens and ambient music.
Southern Pacific Brewing Company (620 Treat Street, SF) Housed in a ten thousand square foot warehouse, the restaurant/brewery serves delicious bar fare. Clean, dry, true-to-style Southern Pacific beers, unique guest brews, and specialty cocktails round out their menu.
Rhea’s Cafe (2200 Bryant Street, SF) Creative sandwiches with Asian influences plus beer & wine served in airy, dinerlike digs.
Central Kitchen (3000 20th Street, SF) Great choice if you’re looking for a nicer restaurant nearby. Californian fare made with local ingredients & modern techniques in a lively setting with a patio.
Flour + Water (2401 Harrison Street, SF) This high-end restaurant showcases a menu influenced by regional traditions throughout Italy with Northern Californian inspirations. Reservations are recommended.
Atlas Café (3049 20th Street, SF) Atlas Café serves great coffee and handcrafted organic food items in a casual and comfortable atmosphere. Fantastic vegetarian and vegan options, and a solid beer selection. It fills up quickly, but do check out the outdoor patio.
Kamee Abrahamian (Chair, Orientations) is an interdisciplinary producer, performer, and artist born in Canada to an Armenian family. She received her BA in Film and Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal and recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Expressive Art Therapy from the European Graduate School, with a special focus on an integration of digital media practices. Kamee splits her time on a wide-range of multi-modal projects under the umbrella of her production company, Saboteur Productions; and is pursuing her PhD in community, liberation, and eco-psychologies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in California.
Cybling (Panelist, Orientations) makes political art out of sounds, words, and pixels. He is a low-income, trans, queer, neurodiverse, first-generation Armenian, student, and self-described survivor. In 2013, he created a short comic book about the queer Armenian identity that eventually, and accidentally, evolved into The Hye-Phen, a definitive community resource and platform like no other. He believes that the Armenian identity, and geography, is an inherently queer one. He is studying Technocultural Studies in Davis, CA and is currently working on his first EP, “I’m Depressed.” the-hye-phen-mag.org/team/11
Claudia Bernardi (Panelist, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation) is Professor of Community Arts and the Graduate Program of Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts and the founder and director of the School of Art and Open Studio of Perquin El Salvador. In her work over the past two decades, she has combined installation, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and, most recently, she has focused her art practice in collaborative art projects working with communities that have suffered state terror, violence, and are victims of human rights violations. Bernardi holds an MFA from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, and an MA and her second MFA from the University of California at Berkeley. In 2004, Bernardi was awarded the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa by the College of Wooster, Ohio. Bernardi has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally, including amongst many others The International World Peace Center in Hiroshima, The Centre for Building Peace, Donegal, Northern Ireland, The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, DAH Teatar in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, The University of Haifa, Israel, MACLA.
L.M. Bogad (Panelist, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation), is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at UC Davis. He is the author of the books Tactical Performance: Serious Play and Social Movements (Routledge, coming out in January) and Electoral Guerrilla Theatre (2005, Routledge second edition coming out in January), and the play COINTELSHOW: A Patriot Act (PM Press, 2011). Bogad is a veteran of the Lincoln Center Director’s Laboratory and cofounder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. He’s performed on many picket lines in roles such as Saint Francis, Ronald McDonald, and Sam Walton. Bogad has written and performed for the Yes Men, La Pocha Nostra, Reclaim the Streets, and many other groups and organizations. He has performed, lectured, and led art-activist workshops from Finland to Egypt to Argentina, and was “Art and Controversy” Fellow at Carnegie Mellon and “Humanities and Political Conflict” Fellow at Arizona State University. Bogad is the world’s best, worst, and only economusician.
lee williams boudakian (Chair, Orientations) is a queer, trans, Armenian-Liverpudlian mixie, who works as an interdisciplinary artist, writer, performer, and educator currently based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. lee’s work centers intersectional identities and social justice: seeing to share un(der)represented stories of survival that make visible systemic oppressions and their impact on daily life, relationships, and bodies. lee is the co-creator of Dear Armen, an interactive-theatre experience inspired by the life of Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic dancer/choreographer and survivor of the early 20th century anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku. Dear Armen highlights the struggles and successes of queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming Armenians, exploring the intersections of identity, history, and cultural memory.
Lily Tung Crystal (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) is an actor, singer, and the founding co-artistic director of Ferocious Lotus, a theatre company committed to working with professional Asian American theatre artists. More than diversity, Ferocious Lotus promotes “reality”—the reality that our neighborhoods comprise people of all races, cultures, and backgrounds, and that theatre should represent that reality. You can catch Lily now in Ferocious Lotus’ world premiere of Crane by JC Lee, directed by Mina Morita, playing around the corner at NOHspace until October 11 (ferociouslotus.org). Other roles include: Prosecutor Li/Hotel Manager, Chinglish (Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage); Bloody Mary, South Pacific (Mountain Play); Amanda, Private Lives (Whirligig Theatre, Shanghai); Mrs. Park, Worlds Apart (Magic Theatre, New World Stages); and Korean #2, Songs of the Dragons… (Crowded Fire/AATC, BATCC nomination). Lily is a TBA Titan Award winner. She recently made her directorial debut helming Chinglish at Palo Alto Players. You can also catch her this fall in the film Steve Jobs. lilytungcrystal.com
Ed Decker (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) is the Founding Artistic Director of the New Conservatory Theatre Center, which opened its doors in 1981. NCTC is a San Francisco cornerstone institution leading in the fields of arts education, as well as LGBT and Allied theatre production. A graduate of the SFSU Theatre Department, he is extremely honored to continue his work with a wide array of artisans, administrators, activists, as well as his husband and writing partner Robert Leone, with whom he recently collaborated on the world premiere of Rights of Passage—a love story set against the back drop of the struggle for international human rights. Ed is looking forward to keeping the word “new” in the company’s namesake emblematic of fresh, vital, and transformative theatre.
Diaspora Arts Connection (Sponsor, Divided Stages) is an organization dedicated to promoting music, arts, and culture of Iran and beyond, with emphasis on introducing new and up-and-coming artists in diaspora, building and sustaining communities that support the arts and artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. diasporaartsconnection.org
Amie Dowling (Panelist, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation) creates dance and theatre for the stage, for film, and in community settings. For the past 13 years, her work has considered the politics and representation of incarceration. Drawn by the way dance film can strike metaphors about confinement, control, vitality, and impermanence, over the past several years, Amie has moved towards film as a medium. Her film Well Contested Sites, a collaboration with Bay Area artists, some of who were previously incarcerated, won the 2013 International Screen film prize. Her next film, A Separate Sentence, is in post-production. Currently Amie is the Chair of the Performing Arts and Social Justice Department at the University of San Francisco and Artist in Residence in San Quentin Prison, where she collaborates with the Artistic Ensemble, a group of 20 men serving life sentences, in creating original works of movement and theatre.
Fatima Zahra El Filali (Chair, Project Alo?) is a visual artist, whose work has been shown at the Regis Art Center in the University of Minnesota, as well as in MCAD, among other venues. As an actress, Fatima has worked with Pangea World Theater and Mizna in Minneapolis. She is now a Web Science graduate student at the University of San Francisco. Born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco, Fatima received her BA in Art, and BS in Computer Science from St. Cloud State University in 2009. She is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. She was the Project Alo? Project Manager for Golden Thread Productions.
Brad Erickson (Chair, Hyphenated Theatre) serves as Executive Director for Theatre Bay Area, one of the nation’s largest regional performing arts service organizations, with 300+ theatre company members and some 2,000 individual members. For 12 years, he has led the organization’s efforts to support, promote, and advance the region’s vibrant theatre community. Under his leadership, Theatre Bay Area has gained a national reputation for innovative programs and services for the field with the nationwide study on the intrinsic impact of the theatre experience on the audience as a leading example. Erickson serves as treasurer of the California Arts Advocates and Californians for the Arts, and as California State Captain for Americans for the Arts. Also a playwright, his plays have won several awards and have been produced in theatres from San Francisco to Indianapolis. Erickson received a BFA in Acting from the Goodman School of Drama (now The Theatre School) at DePaul University.
Over the last three decades, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda (Panelist, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation) has been a major influence in the broadening of our definition of theatre in America. The creator of one of the largest canon of Asian American-themed works, he has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theatre, as well as to Europe and Asia. Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law, studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto, and had a Chinglish version of “My Boyfriend’s Back” with Joan Chen (Dim Sum Take Out, dir. Wayne Wang) on the Hong Kong pop charts before it was removed from the air for inappropriate language. Gotanda is a respected independent filmmaker. His three films, Life Tastes Good, Drinking Tea, The Kiss, all have been presented at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Gotanda is the recipient of a Guggenheim, as well as other honors and awards. Gotanda is a Professor with the Department of Theater Dance Performance Studies at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Mas’ud Hamdan (Chair, Theatre Between Home and Exile) is a writer, director, scholar, and Professor of Theatre and Arabic literature at the University of Haifa. He has published numerous articles and research papers on theatre and comparative literature. Some of his books include The Bitter Cup and the Holy Rain: Politics, Poetics and Protest in the Arab Theatre (Sussex Academic Press, 2006); and Text, Theory, Interpretation: Theories and Texts as Psycho-Cultural Prisms (Magnes, 2009). He was the founding artistic director of Al-Niqab Theater in Isifya (2000–2009). His plays include The Command (2002), The Hole of the Spout (2004), Surgery (2006), and Satirical Meal with Muhammad al-Maghut (2008). He produced and directed the feature film Sheikh Ma’ruf’s File (1993), and has published poetry anthologies and prose works in Arabic, notably The Sound of the Grindstone (1984), A Dream for a Pure Laugh (1986), The Book of Death (1990), and Leaves to the Naked Time (2001).
Rama Haydar (Panelist, Theatre Between Home and Exile) is a playwright and dramaturg, who has written scripts for theatre, film, television, and radio. She studied English Literature at the University of Damascus in Syria and Drama at the Damascus High Institute of Dramatic Arts. Her play A Desert of Light, which received a grant from the A. M. Qattan Foundation, focuses on the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, the main Palestinian camp in Damascus. She currently resides in Granada, Spain, where she founded the site-specific micro theatre group Hexagono, based on the name of a play.
Steven Anthony Jones (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) is the Artistic Director of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and has worked on stage, television, and film for 40 years. He was a core company actor at A.C.T., where his credits include Blood Knot, After the War, Gem of the Ocean, “Master Harold”…and the boys, The Invention of Love, The Threepenny Opera, Indian Ink, Hecuba, Insurrection: Holding History, Seven Guitars, Othello (title role), and A Christmas Carol (Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Present). He originated the role of Private James Wilkie in the original production of A Soldier’s Play at the Negro Ensemble Company in New York. His many film and TV credits include two seasons of Midnight Caller, and a recurring role on the NBC series Trauma. Jones received his early theatre training at Karamu House in his hometown of Cleveland. He is a graduate of Yankton College in South Dakota. Other credits include the Cleveland Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, among others.
Mahmood Karimi-Hakak (Panelist, Divided Stages) is a poet, author, translator and film and theatre artist, and the President of Festival Cinema Invisible (cinemainvisible.org). He has created over 60 stage and screenplays in the U.S., Europe, and his native Iran, and is a recipient of four international awards including the Raymond C. Kennedy (2005) and the Fulbright (2009-10). His literary credits include six plays, four books of poetry, several translations from and into Persian, and numerous articles and interviews in both English and Persian. Dr. Karimi-Hakak has taught at Towson University (Baltimore, MD), Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), and The City University of New York, as well as at universities in Antwerp, Tilburg, Tel Aviv, and Tehran. Presently he serves as Professor of Creative Arts at Siena College in Upstate New York. mahmoodkarimihakak.org
Aida Keikhaeii (Panelist, Divided Stages) is a TV, film, and theatre actress and director with an MA in Play Directing, and a BA in Acting from the University of Tehran. Her acting credits include Drought & Lies, Proof, Winter 66, Writing in the Dark, Devilore, The Moon in Water, The Only Possible Way, Geranium, A Moment of Silence, KHISHKHANE, Face of a Virgin, Little Stars of Darkness, We Are All Fine (film), and The Curious Savage (TV). Directing credits include A Moment of Silence, The Pillowman, Dinner with Friends, and Goodbye. Awards and nominations include The Iran Festival of University Theatre for Outstanding Acting for Olive and Little Stars of Darkness; The Iranzamin Festival for Outstanding Acting for KHISHKHANE; The Theater Forum of Iran award nomination for acting for Drought & Lies, Proof, and Devilore; and The International Iran Festival of University Theatre award for Outstanding Directing for Goodbye.
Ismail Khalidi (Panelist, Theatre Between Home and Exile) was born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and raised in Chicago. He is a playwright, poet, and activist, as well as an actor and educator. Khalidi holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is the author of the award-winning play Tennis in Nablus. His plays have been produced and read at theatres and universities around the country and abroad, including Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. Khalidi’s other plays include Truth Serum Blues, which was commissioned and produced by Pangea World Theater (2005); Final Status; and most recently, Sabra Falling. Khalidi’s writing on politics and culture has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, The Daily Beast, American Theatre Magazine, Remezcla, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Khalidi is the co-editor of Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015) and is co-adapting Ghassan Kanafani’s Return to Haifa for the stage.
An award-wining Palestinian-Irish writer, Hannah Khalil‘s (Panelist, Theatre Between Home and Exile) first short play, Ring, was selected for Soho Theatre London’s Westminster Prize and her first full- length piece, Leaving Home, was staged at The King’s Head. Further work includes Plan D, which was produced at Tristan Bates Theatre and nominated for the Meyer Whitworth Award. Most recently Hannah’s play Bitterenders won Sandpit Arts’ Bulbul 2013 competition and was staged at The Nightingale in Brighton. Her monologue The Worst Cook in the West Bank was performed as part of an evening of short plays about Arab women in the Arab Spring at the Old Red Lion in London and the Unity Theatre as part of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival. Hannah also writes for radio, and her new play Last of the Pearl Fishers will be on BBC Radio 4 early next year. In 2015, Plan D will be published as part of “Inside/Outside: Six plays from Palestine and the Diaspora” edited by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi.
Rebekah Maggor (Chair, Theatre Between Home and Exile) is a playwright, director, and translator, with a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts from Columbia University, an MFA from Moscow Art Theatre, and a Certificate in Advanced Theatre Training from American Repertory Theater Institute, Harvard University. Her plays have had readings and productions at the American Repertory Theater, the New York Theater Workshop, and the Old Vic in London. She has received commissions and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute, the Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellows, the Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT, the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Middle Eastern Theater Project. She spent a year studying contemporary Palestinian drama in Palestine and Israel as a 2014 Fulbright Scholar. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Rowan University, and is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, Tahrir Plays and Performance Texts from the Egyptian Revolution.
Sunaina Maira (Keynote Speaker) is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching focus on Asian and Arab American youth, citizenship, and popular culture. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and co-editor of books including Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award. Her recent publications include the book, Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire After 9/11, and Jil [Generation] Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and the Youth Movement, based on ethnographic research in Palestine. Her new book project is a study of South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American youth in the Bay Area and post-9/11 activism focused on civil and human rights and issues of sovereignty and surveillance in the War on Terror.
Mina Morita (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) is the Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theater, a critically acclaimed and vital company specializing in adventurous new play production in San Francisco. She is dedicated to the development of a contemporary theatre canon that reflects the diverse world in which we live. Previously, she served as the Artistic Associate at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and was part of the originating team for its Ground Floor Program, which is a center for the creation and development of new work. She has collaborated with a number of world-renowned directors and playwrights including Tony Taccone and Tony Kushner for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, with Les Waters and Sarah Ruhl for In The Next Room, or the vibrator play (which received a Tony nomination), and Anna Deavere Smith for On Grace.
Nahal Navidar (Panelist, Divided Stages) is an Iranian-born playwright raised in New York. Her plays are motivated by the exploration of social issues while employing magical elements to awaken the expanse of human emotion. Plays include Pairi Daiza (Bay Area Playwrights Festival Finalist), 110 Flights (Proctor’s Theatre, NY), ‘Flicted (WAM Theatre, NY), The Real Pain (The Vagrancy, LA), Songs of Our Childhood (Golden Thread Productions, SF, The Last Frontier Theatre Conference, AK), My Dear Hussein, The Last Mango Tree, and The Charlie Play. Current projects include an opera entitled Donia written in collaboration with music composer Julia Adolphe. The Charlie Play was written at The Vagrancy’s Writer’s Group and will be developed at Pasadena Playhouse’s Hot House Reading Series in May 2016. Nahal holds an MFA from U.S.C.’s Dramatic Writing Program, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. NNavidar.com
Project Alo? was a pilot initiative by Golden Thread Productions to facilitate international artistic exchange between theatre artists from the U.S. and the Middle East. Artists were paired up to engage in a performative conversation in the form of one-minute video clips captured by cell phones. Participants included Ramez Alaswad (Damascus, Syria), Raffi Feghali (Beirut, Lebanon), Tracy Cameron Francis (New York City, NY), Bilge Gulturk (Istanbul, Turkey), Simón Adinia Hanukai (New York City, NY), Gülgün Kayim (Minneapolis, MN), Evren Odcikin (San Francisco, CA), Rami Sameh (Baghdad, Iraq), Azade Shahmiri (Tehran, Iran), Raffi Wartanian (Baltimore, MD), with Bay Area-based facilitators Susu Attar, Haleh Hatami, Fatima Zahra El Filali, and Torange Yeghiazarian. With Project Alo?, Golden Thread’s intent was to initiate new relationships and dialogue between theatre artists located across borders. The ultimate goal of this project, and all of Golden Thread’s international initiatives, is to create a thriving global network of artists who are vocal, active, and creative towards building a sustainable dynamic and responsive artistic community.
Babak Rahimi (Chair, Divided Stages) is Associate Professor of Communication, Culture, and Religion at the Department of Literature, UC, San Diego. He earned his PhD from the European University Institute, and an MA in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy from University of Nottingham (1997). In addition, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2000–2001). His book, Theater-State and Formation of the Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran: Studies on Safavid Muharram Rituals, 1590-1641 C.E. (Brill 2011), studies the relationship between ritual, public space, and state power in early modern Iranian history. Dr. Rahimi’s work has appeared in various journals such as Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology, International Political Science Review, The Communication Review, and the Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies. His current research project is on the relationship between digital culture, politics, and religion.
Anoushka Ratnarajah (Panelist, Orientations) is a queer, mixed-race femme, and a multi-disciplinary and transnational artist and organizer currently living on Coast Salish Territory, and working between Vancouver and New York. She received her MA in Arts Politics from NYU, and has worked as a producer, performer, writer, and arts organizer with cultural and arts organizations in Vancouver, Montreal, and New York. Her most recent creative projects include Capital, Alice!, a collaboratively devised anti-capitalist Alice in Wonderland musical; Toasted Marshmallows, a documentary film and community building project exploring what it means to be a mixed-race woman in North America today; and Dear Armen, an audience-immersive theatre experience inspired by the life of Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic Armenian performer and anti-Armenian pogrom survivor. She’s currently working on completing a collection of poems and a one-woman show.
Maryam Farnaz Rostami (Panelist, Orientations) has made work in San Francisco for the last seven years, both solo (2011’s Persepolis, Texas) and with an ensemble (2012’s Persian Looking). She has spent most of the last few years co-artistic directing the performance collaborative Nicole Kidman is Fucking Gorgeous, which she co-founded. Her latest one-woman show, Late Stage San Francisco, played at the ACT Costume Shop in August, 2015. She works in the world of architecture as a designer. maryamrostami.com
Yasser Abu Shaqra (Panelist, Theatre Between Home and Exile) was born in Damascus, and is a writer and theatremaker. His poetry has been published and translated into Danish in the collection Safaa Yom Jadeed (Fine New Day). He was the 2014 Masrah Ensemble Playwright-in-Residence. To see an interview with Mr. Abu Sharqa go to vimeo.com/110570350.
Thomas Simpson (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre), an award winning actor, director, producer, and writer, is the founder and artistic director of the AfroSolo Theatre Company. Since 1991, he has concentrated on presenting Black art and culture through solo performances, the visual and literary arts, and community engagement projects designed to inform, uplift and inspire. For the past 21 years, Simpson has produced the award–winning and critically–acclaimed AfroSolo Arts Festival in San Francisco. During this time had has presenting over 200 solo performance, visual, and literary artists. He has featured celebrity artists, such as award–winning actor Ruby Dee, comedian and political activist Dick Gregory, beloved teacher, poet and social activist June Jordan, sensational pianist and blues artist Charles Brown, along with many emerging and mid-career artists. He can be reached by way of email@example.com.
SWANABAQ (Sponsor, Orientations) stands for Southwest Asian North African Bay Area Queers. It is a moderated Yahoo group comprise of people who are 1) “queer”; 2) have background from SWANA culture/countries, and 3) live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Occasional social, political, or other events are posted. This is a great resource for local events and international perspectives. groups.yahoo.com/SWANABAQ
Dalia Taha (Panelist, Theatre Between Home and Exile) was born in Berlin, but grew up in Ramallah, Palestine, and is a poet and playwright. Her first play, Keffiyeh/Made in China, was produced by the Flemish Royal Theater and the A.M. Qattan Foundation. The play premiered in Brussels in 2012, then was brought to Palestine where it toured seven Palestinian cities. It was given a staged reading in July 2013 as part of the Shubbak Festival: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. The play has been published in four languages—Arabic, English, French, and Flemish. In 2013, Taha was awarded a young artist grant to travel to the cities of Kinshasa and Hanover. In addition to plays, Dalia has published two collections of poetry and one novel. She is now working on a new play that was accepted for the Royal Court International Playwriting residency. Dalia graduated from Birzeit University in 2009 with a degree in Architecture.
Theatre Bay Area (Sponsor, Hyphenated Theatre), now entering its fortieth year, is one of the largest and most respected regional performing arts service organizations in the nation. Founded in 1976, Theatre Bay Area is known for its innovative programs and services, and counts as its members more than 300 theatre companies and some 2,000 individual artists across the region. Theatre Bay Area’s mission is to unite, strengthen, promote, and advance the Bay Area theatre community working from its conviction that theatre and all the arts are an essential public good, critical to a truly prosperous and democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth. Theatre Bay Area asserts the particular power of theatre to inspire empathy and understanding, to enrich individual lives, and create community. theatrebayarea.org
Theatre Without Borders (Sponsor, Theatre Between Home and Exile) is a grassroots volunteer network of individual artists, theatres, and organizations that share a common interest in international exchange. TWB works primarily through its website (theatrewithoutborders.com), as well as through public forums and projects to explore and encourage the exchange of international theatre projects and artists. TWB was created to recognize the universality and diversity of theatrical expression, and the need for international artists to maintain dialogue across political boundaries. It serves as a neutral space where artists from all backgrounds can meet in mutual respect through artist-to-artist, people-to-people exchange. TWB advocates for theatre artists who see themselves as members of a global community, as well as citizens of their respective nations and cultures. TWB works with and supports the activities of other organizations involved with international theatre exchange such as The Segal Center, On the Move, La MaMa ETC, the ITI/International Theatre Institute, Theatre Communications Group, Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program (actingtogether.org), Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics, Tricklock Company/Revolutions International Theatre Festival, University of Utrecht’s International Community Arts Research Festival, The Center for International Theatre Development, amongst many others. TWB offers hospitality and service, as we “seed and grow” thanks to our many partners and the creative passion of the TWB network.
The first and only undergraduate program of its kind in the nation, the University of San Francisco Performing Arts and Social Justice Program (Sponsor, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation) trains young artists to create an humane and just society through their craft. Our mission is deeply aligned with the core values of Jesuit education; we see performance as a powerful tool for promoting positive change. We seek to expose the USF community to different styles and artistic approaches, celebrate diversity, creatively reflect on important issues of our times, and become inspired to find the artist-activist in themselves, web.usfca.edu/artsci/pa
Manish V (Panelist, Orientations) is a comedy writer, performer, and the artistic director of Peacock Rebellion, an arts training institute for queer and trans* people of color; director of the Queer Cultural Center’s National Queer Performing Arts Summit; and editor-in-chief of The Intergalactivist, a life coaching website for visionary activists. As a certified professional coach, Manish has 15 years of experience with U.S.-based social justice organizations and networks. intergalactivist.net/speaking
Roberto Varea (Chair, Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation) focuses his research and creative work on the intersection of performance and peacebuilding in social conflict and state violence contexts. His stage work includes directing and founding community-based performance projects such as Soapstone Theater, a company made up of survivors of violent crime and the prison industrial complex, and El Teatro Jornalero!, a company of Latin American immigrant workers. He is a regular contributor to journals, and co-editor and co-author of the two-volume anthology Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict. Varea is a member of the performance collective Secos & Mojados, and founding faculty of the Department of Performing Arts, and the Performing Arts and Social Justice, and Critical Diversity Studies Majors at USF. He is a member of Theater Without Borders and serves on the Advisory Board of Golden Thread Productions.
Bella Warda (Panelist, Divided Stages), an Iranian-born Berkeley resident, is a founding member of the Darvag Theater group, which is celebrating 30 years of its existence this year. She is happy to be back and working once again with Golden Thread Productions. Bella has worn many hats in the world of theater, including acting, directing, set and costume design. Some hats looked better than others. She hopes the hat she is wearing this time will fit and please you.
Pearl Wong (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) is the Interim Managing Director of Asian American Theater Company. A native San Franciscan, she began volunteering with AATC in 1992. She is also a member of the sketch comedy troupe 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, who were the subject of the documentary Mighty Warriors of Comedy, which aired nationally on PBS and received a 2007 Northern California Emmy® Award. As an actor, she has worked locally with Impact Theatre, Intersection for the Arts – Campo Santo, The Cutting Ball Theater, and Calaveras Repertory Theatre.
Mohammad Yaghoubi (Panelist, Divided Stages) is an award-winning playwright, director, and screenwriter living and working predominantly in Iran, whose plays have been recently introduced to American audiences. Plays include Droughts & Lies, A Moment of Silence (translated into English by Torange Yeghiazarian, with a staged reading in English by Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco in 2012, and a production directed by Bella Warda in Berkeley in 2015), Writing in the Dark, Moon on the Water, The Only Possible Way, Geraniums, Red and the Rest, Dance of Torn Papers, and Winter 1998. Honors and awards include The National Theatre Critics Society Award for Outstanding Play for Drought & Lies; Iranian Playwrights Society Award at the Iran Theatre Forum for Outstanding Writing A Moment of Silence; The National Theatre Critics Society Award for Outstanding Writing for Geraniums; and The National Theatre Critics Society Award for Outstanding Direction for Dance of Torn Papers. yaghoubee.com
Torange Yeghiazarian (F0unding Artistic Director; Panelist, Divided Stages) is a playwright, director and translator. 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. Past awards include a 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 included in the anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009. She 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.
An MFA graduate from the American Conservatory Theater and former Commissioner for the San Francisco Art Commission, Sherri Young (Panelist, Hyphenated Theatre) founded The African-American Shakespeare in 1993, and has been its Executive Director since. She has directed over 20 productions, produced and executed four programs for the organization, and speaks at various colleges, universities, and conferences across the nation. Young manages the approximately 122 company members and volunteers with assistance from the four staff personnel. Some career highlights includes the creation of the company’s signature holiday performance Cinderella, effectively building and stabilizing the organization over the past five years, and creating a new outdoor performance series in San Francisco called The Cultural Corridor, bringing together the arts community from Fillmore to Hayes Valley.
Z Space (Location) is a hub for artists and audiences to revel in the creation, development, and production of outstanding new work. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lisa Steindler, Z Space commissions, develops, and produces works from a variety of disciplines, including theatre, dance, music, performance art, and new media. Since 2009, we have managed and operated a 13,000 square feet, 229-seat performing arts venue and gallery in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, where artists of all stripes rehearse, perform, and exhibit their latest creations. In 2013, Z Space opened Z Below, a 2,100 square feet, 88-seat second stage, which is ideal for the development of new work, and allows the organization to provide more rehearsal and performance options for its companies in residence. Some of our signature programs are: Z Space New Work, a development program that supports artists and ensembles from conception to realization of unique works, Word for Word, an in-house theatre company that transforms works of literature verbatim to the stage, and Youth Arts, Word for Word’s outreach to schools, promoting literacy and engaging students’ creativity. zspace.org