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Artists Biographies
ReOrient 2009 - The First Ten Years

Playwrights | Directors | Performers

Design Team | Production Team


Playwrights

Yussef El Guindi’s most recent productions: Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes, produced at Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco, at InterAct Theater in Philadelphia, and at Kitchen Dog theater in Dallas, as part of the National New Play Network . Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat, produced by Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago, where it was Jeff Nominated, and was among the six finalists for the 2009 American Theater Critics Associations Steinberg/ New Play Award. The American Theater Critics Association has also given it the 2009 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. Other productions: Back of the Throat was winner of the 2004 Northwest Playwrights’ Competition held by Theater Schmeater. It won L.A. Weekly’s Excellence in Playwriting Award for 2006. It was also nominated for the 2006 American Theater Critics Associations Steinberg/ New Play Award, and was voted Best New Play of 2005 by the Seattle Times.  It was first staged by San Francisco’s Thick Description and Golden Thread Productions; then later presented in various theaters around the country including The Flea Theater in New York. Another play of his, Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith, staged by Silk Road Theatre Project, won the After Dark Award for Best New Play in Chicago in 2006.  His two-related one-acts, Acts of Desire, were staged by the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. Back of the Throat, and the two related one-acts, now titled, Such a Beautiful Voice is Sayeeda’s and Karima’s City, have been published by Dramatists Play Service. The latter one-acts have also been included in The Best American Short Plays: 2004-2005, published by Applause Books.  His play, Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith, is to be included in Salaam/Peace: An Anthology of Middle-Eastern-American Playwrights, to be published by TCG in 2009. Yussef holds an MFA from Carnegie-Mellon University and was playwright-in-residence at Duke University.

Naomi Wallace's work has been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.   Her major plays include One Flea Spare, In the Heart of America, Slaughter City, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours and The Fever Chart: Three Short Visions of the Middle East. Her work has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Kesselring Prize, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, and an Obie. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.  Her award-winning film Lawn Dogs is available on DVD.  Her new film, The War Boys,  co-written with Bruce Mcleod, will be released in 2009. Wallace is writing new plays for the Public Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Clean Break of London.

Torange Yeghiazarian writes, directs and acts for the theatre. She is the Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, where she has devoted her professional life to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities through theatre arts. In this capacity, Torange launched, ReOrient, an annual festival of short plays showcasing alternative perspectives of the Middle East. Most recently, Torange directed the West Coast premiere of A Girl’s War by Joyce Van Dyke, adapted the poetry of Simin Behbehani to the stage in I Sell Souls, collaborated with Iranian, Israeli and American artists on creating Benedictus, and produced the world premiere of Ecstasy | a waterfable by Denmo Ibrahim inspired by a 9th Century Sufi tale. Torange’s play Call Me Mehdi is included in “Salaam/Peace: An Anthology of Middle-Eastern American Playwrights” published by TCG in 2009. Other plays include Waves, Dawn at Midnight, Behind Glass Windows, Abaga. As a teaching artist, Torange has taught playwriting to at-risk youth as part of the Each One Reach One program, incorporated theatre into social studies in Richmond’s Washington Elementary School as part of the Learning Without Borders program, and led acting and play development workshops for youth and adults for Golden Thread. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.

Caveh Zahedi is an autobiographical writer/actor/director who combines both dramatic and documentary elements in his work. His films have won awards at major international film festivals, and have been distributed theatrically, released on DVD, and broadcast on television. He is a Guggenheim recipient, a Rome Prize Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the 2005 Gotham Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Film Institute, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Creative Capital, and The San Francisco Arts Commission. His films include A Little Stiff (1991), I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore(1994), In The Bathtub of the World (2001), and I Am A Sex Addict (2005). He has also appeared as an actor in Waking Life (2001), A Sign From God (2000), Money Buys Happiness (1999), and Citizen Ruth (1996).

 

Directors

Arlene Hood: The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue, Call Me Mehdi

Hafiz Karmali: Abaga (The Future), A Marriage Proposal

Mark Routhier: Coming Home, Compression of a Casualty

Bella Ramazan-Nia: No Such Cold Thing. Bella, an Iranian-born East Bay resident since 1980 is a founding member of the Darvag Theater group launched in 1985. She has had a long-running collaboration with Golden Thread Productions and when Naomi Wallace’s play was offered, Bella was eager to come on board as director. Her first encounter with Wallace was acting in The State of Innocence, yet another play about human tragedy – in that case Palestinians and Israelis. Bella would like to express her gratitude to Torange Yeghiazarian and Naomi Wallace for this opportunity. And this too will melt away like snow in May. 

Torange Yeghiazarian: Tamam. A native of Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University. Her plays (Call Me Mehdi, Waves, Dawn at Midnight, Behind Glass Windows, Abaga) reflect the perspective of the culturally displaced in tackling today’s world of contradictory realities and values. As a teaching artist, Torange has taught playwriting to at-risk youth as part of the Each One Reach One program, incorporated theatre into social studies in Richmond’s Washington Elementary School as part of East Bay Center for Performing Arts’ Learning Without Borders program, and lead acting and play development workshops for Golden Thread Productions. She is the Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, where she has devoted her professional life to exploring Middle Eastern culture and identity through theatre arts.

M. Graham Smith: I'm Not a Serial Killer. Smith is the founder and Artistic Director of Precarious Theatre, San Francisco’s critically acclaimed ensemble theatre company. He is a core member of the Dell’arte company, a group focusing on classical and emerging physical theater forms. He has directed at the Walnut Theater in Philadelphia and the HERE American Living Room series in New York City. In San Francisco he has directed at the Yerba Buena Garden’s Festival, Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, the A.C.T.’s Masters program, Aurora Theatre, The EXIT Theatre, Playground, and New Conservatory Theatre, where his Kiss of the Spiderwoman was nominated for Best Overall Drama 2006 by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. This season he directed the world premiere of Philip Kan Gotanda's #5 Angry Red Drum, as well as On The Rocks, part of the Me, Myself and I series at BRAVA, where he is also directing 4 staged readings paired with food and wine for Precarious Theatre's Kitchen Series.

 

Performers

BaselBasel Al-Naffouri has been acting and improvising for over 6 years. Basel started his career at MIT's Theater department, where he appeared in the plays The Elephant your Majesty and Seven Menus. Combining his interest in the Middle East and his passion for improv, he most recently produced, directed and acted in An Improvised Arabian Nights at the Magic Theater.  Basel has appeared in numerous films including Tamer Tate, Muslims at Work and Inheritance.  He regularly performs with improv troupes such as Double Entendre and Audible Clique, and has studied with Studio ACT, Stanford Continued Studies, and the BATS School of Improv.  Basel is excited to be performing for the first time with the ReOrient festival on its 10th anniversary.

 

Suraya Susana Keating is a Bay Area actress, director, Registered Drama Therapist and yoga instructor.  She was most recently seen in Zen Boyfriends,Tony-n-Tina's Wedding, Marin Shakespeare's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in prison, and with the Golden Thread's school and library touring group, The Fairytale Players. Suraya is currently working on another solo show, and will be directing Romeo and Juliet with inmates at San Quentin in spring 2010.  In her spare time, Suraya likes to wander the globe studying people, languages, and fine dark chocolate. www.suraya.org

 

 

DinaDina Mousawi grew up in Baghdad and moved to England at the age of eight – at ten she began her professional acting career taking the lead in ‘The Prime Ministers Brain’ on ITV.  Since then she has worked extensively in TV, theatre and film.
Theatre credits include: Jesus Christ & Chocolate Pudding; How the Rapist Was Born (Tristan Bates Theatre, London); Ali to Karim (US tour); The Marriage of Figaro (New Players Theatre, London); The Tempest; Mandragora King of India; Journey to the West; (Tara Arts UK tours); When Amar Met Jay (Lyric Hammersmith, London);  Shakespeare and Tragedy (European tour); West Side Story (Alhambra Theatre, Bradford).Television: Coronation Street; Cold Feet (Granada); Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC); Gold; Wilderness Edge (Granada); King Girl (BBC); Just Us (ITV). Film: King of Bollywood (I Dream Productions); Asylum (Maximize Productions). Presenting: T4 (At It Productions for Channel 4); Freedom Fighting: Capoeira (Satellite Productions); Shakespeare Works! (KJ Films Ltd).

 

George Psarras is excited to make his debut with Golden Thread Productions.  George was last seen as Aramis in The Three Musketeers at City Lights Theatre Company.  Other City Lights credits include Tommy in First Person Shooter, Mercutio in Shakespod and Clyde/Chris in the world premiere of Voluntary Amnesia.With TheatreWorks, George has been involved in productions of The Elephant Man (understudy) and Anna In The Tropics (ensemble) where he also went on as Cheche for two performances.  He has also appeared in Red Lantern Theatre Company’s Desire: An Evening of Plays on Love (Gil – All About Al) as well as Foothill Theatre Conservatory’s The Emperor’s New Clothes (Emperor).  George is a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory at Foothill College.

 

Sara Razavi is reappearing as Hoda in The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue from ReOrient Festival 2007.  One of the founding members of elastic future theatre company she has also been involved with several other local theatre companies including mugwumpin, No Nude Men, TheatreFIRST, Golden Thread Productions, and Darvag.  Sara is the Executive Director of Honoring Emancipated Youth, a San Francisco based non-profit advocating for the needs of youth aging out of the foster care system (heysf.org).

 

 

Raffi Wartanian  is a writer, multi-instrumentalist, and activist pleased to make his debut in the San Francisco theater community with Golden Thread.  He recently moved from Baltimore where he studied acting with John Astin and Krista Smith at the Johns Hopkins University, and long-form improvisational comedy at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade theater.  Raffi is the grandchild of Armenian genocide survivors and recently spent two months in Lebanon writing his first book during the Gaza War.  Favorite productions include lead guitar in Bat Boy The Musical, percussion for Into The Woods, Anton in Three Sisters, Cohen in The Underpants, and Mr. Scott in Menk Hayeren Chenk Keeder performed in Armenian aboard the Armenian Heritage CruiseRaffi also does voice over work for Link TV’s program, Mosaic: World News from the Middle East.

Maryam Farnaz Rostami was born to Iranian parents in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. She has a BArch and a BA Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Maryam has designed affordable multi-family housing at Pyatok Architects for the past 3.5 years, and is currently teaching Architectural Design at University of California at Berkeley.  She was last seen in the role of the Mother in Jesse Hewit’s TOTAL FACTS KNOWN at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, and is a resident DJ at Radio Bar in Oakland. Maryam aspires to contribute to sublime beauty in human experience.

Leah Herman is thrilled to be working with Golden Thread and this group of good people. She has performed, trained, taught, been cast, rejected and waited in LONG cattle calls in (mostly) NY and the Bay Area. Credits include classical and contemporary theater, lots of original works, improv, film, developmental readings, voice-over and a little television. Swell local work includes productions and readings at Magic, Aurora, City Lights and Playwrights Foundation. Leah spent the winter gloriously working with Richard Foreman and teaching a couple of master classes in NY. Thank you to Greg, Mum, Sasha, Pie and Matthew, and to you, the audience, for spending time with us today.

 

Vida Ghahremani

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afif HoussainAfif Houssain

 

 

 

 

 

 

ChuckCharles Isen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nora el Samahy

Michael X. Sommers

Ahou Tabibzadeh

 

Design Team

Mia Baxter (Props)

Kate Boyd (Set Designer)

Bradford Chapin (Sound Designer) is excited to be involved with the 10th year of ReOrientation. Bay area credits include She Stoops to Comedy (SF Playhouse), Happy Days (Cal Shakes), Basha Rubenchek from Minsk (Brookside Repertory Theatre), and assistant designer for The Creature (Blackbox Theatre). Chicago credits: John and Jen (Apple Tree), Arrangements (Pavement Group), and Seven Doors (Premiere Theatre and Performance). Bradford holds a degree in Music from University of Wisconsin-Parkside and serves as a sound engineer for Cal Shakes and TheatreWorks.

Victoria Livingston-Hall (Costume Designer)

Navid G. Maghami

Blake Manship (Lighting Designer)

 

Production Team

Samia Abouu-Samra (Production Intern)

Serge Bakalian (Managing Director) joined Golden Thread in October bringing with him years of experience in nonprofit management, as well as a spirit of entrepreneurship. Trained as a chemist, Serge has worked and consulted for several major NGO’s including Greenpeace International and the F.A.O. of the United Nations. He’s been a founding member of organizations such as the Cedre Foundation, the Glendale Greens and the Green Alliance. A native of Lebanon and of Greek-Armenian heritage, Serge holds a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S and M.S in International Relations from the London School of Economics. A writer and filmmaker, his works have spanned both fiction and nonfiction, currently producing the feature-length film, Default: the Student Loan Documentary. His work and activism have led him to many parts of the world, most extensively throughout the Middle East and Latin America.

Alycia Dymond (Production Manager) is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she earned a degree in Technical Theatre. This is her first production with Golden Thread and as a Production Manger.  Her stage management credits include let the northern lights erase your name for Campo Santo and Alice in Wonderland for Ragged Wing Ensemble, and several shows with Crowded Fire Theater Company where she is an ensemble member.  Alycia has also worked with San Francisco SketchFest, C Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, TheatreWorks, and California Shakespeare Theater. Thanks to friends and family for their continued support on this crazy theatrical ride.

Mary K. Gabrysiak (Production Stage Manager) is proud to be apart of Golden Thread’s ReOrient Festiaval 2009.  Mary has worked in theater for over 20 years in Wisconsin, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Some of her favorite productions include Harvey, My Fair Lady, Antigone, Grease, Punch and Judy, Burn This, House of Blue Leaves, and MachinalMary would like to thank the cast and crew for their dedication and hard work in putting together a great work of art.  She dedicates this festival to her family and friend who support all of her crazy ideas!Samia Abou-Samra

Lauren Boone (Assistant Stage Manager)

Joe Mizzi (Technical Director)

Junelle-Johannah Taguas (Assistant Stage Manager) is a recent graduate of the University of Portland, OR where she obtained a BA in Drama with triple emphases in: production management, performance and lighting design. She is now living back in her hometown of San Francisco working to become an Equity stage manager. Other companies she has worked with are: the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Climate Theatre, The Z Space Studio, and the Nomadic Theatre Company in Portland.

Torange Yeghiazarian (Founding Artistic Director, Playwright) writes, directs and acts for the theatre. A native of Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University. Her plays (Call Me Mehdi, Waves, Dawn at Midnight, Behind Glass Windows, Abaga) reflect the perspective of the culturally displaced in tackling today’s world of contradictory realities and values. As a teaching artist, Torange has taught playwriting to at-risk youth as part of the Each One Reach One program, incorporated theatre into social studies in Richmond’s Washington Elementary School as part of East Bay Center for Performing Arts’ Learning Without Borders program, and lead acting and play development workshops for Golden Thread Productions. She is the Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, where she has devoted her professional life to exploring Middle Eastern culture and identity through theatre arts.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director / Serge Bakalian, Managing Director
450 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 / 415.626.4061 / information@goldenthread.org