San Francisco Bay Area – As media pundits ask what role the women of the Middle East play after the Arab Spring, Golden Thread invites a dramatically diverse group of women performers to dive deep in conversation about their recent work. From Jennifer Jajeh navigating the thorny terrain of Palestinian identity in I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid To Tell You, to Denmo Ibrahim’s highly physical Baba spanning an epic journey of an Egyptian father and daughter –both shows have toured nationally – the Bay Area has witnessed a surge of solo performances by women of Middle Eastern background. Just last year, Iranian American drag queen Maryam Rostami debuted her transgressive Persepolis, Texas: FOBspring to Drag Queen, and Rohina Malik performed five different Muslim women in UnVeiled. Profound, rambunctious and illuminating, this new generation of solo women performers tackles themes of displacement, dual loyalties and entitlement to expand definitions of citizenship, activism and womanhood.
Each year Golden Thread Productions celebrates International Women’s Day by highlighting the work of Middle Eastern women artists. In 2011, the program featured a ‘call and response’ dramatic reading of selections from prison memoirs of Iranian novelist, Shahrnush Parsipur and Egyptian writer and physician, Nawal el Saadawi. The 2009 program was dedicated to the women of Gaza, featuring a dramatic reading of blog postings by Majeda Al Saqqa, the poetry of Deema Shehabi and Dina Omar, and performance by Al Juthoor Dance Company. Other highlights included staged reading of The Body Washer by Rosemary Toohey, poetry of Haleh Hatami and Elmaz Abinader, and original dance performances by Lana Nasser. Golden Thread is dedicated to presenting the rich diversity of Middle Eastern perspective and experience while supporting countless artists in various stages of their career.
The evening’s program includes guest artists performing a brief excerpt of their work followed by a conversation about the creative process, joys and perils of self-producing, and the impact of the work. The conversation will be facilitated by Golden Thread artistic associate and published author Haleh Hatami.
Denmo Ibrahim is an Egyptian-American actor, playwright, entrepreneur, healer, and theatre maker based in San Francisco. Her recent work BABA was selected as the winner of the 2011 HIGHLIGHT series by Noor Theatre and performed at New York Theatre Workshop. Original commissions include new work for Golden Thread Productions, Theatre of Yugen, foolsFURY, Shotgun Players, Root Division, 111 Minna, EXIT Theatre, Bebersee Classical Music Festival and Loire Valley Festival. She is a co-founder of the award winning performance company Mugwumpin and the CEO of Earthbody, an organic day spa for healing. Denmo holds an MFA in Lecoq-Based: Actor Created Physical Theatre from Naropa University and a BFA from Boston University. She has spent years in the studio collaborating, devising, demolishing, and breathing life into new playthings. www.adenmoproject.com
About the work…Baba is a funny, highly physical solo show spanning an epic journey of an Egyptian father and daughter facing the tribulations of getting from New York to Cairo. Inspired by a true story, this intimate family tragedy reveals a humorous, calculating man who defies all odds to get his child's U.S. passport minutes before departure. Along side his story, we meet his daughter three decades later in search of her origin to discover the man she never knew.
Jennifer Jajeh is a San Francisco based artist. Her one-woman show, I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid To Tell You debuted in 2008 at New York's International Fringe Festival. The show, a smash-hit in San Francisco where it ran for 12 weeks in Fall 2009, continued onto theatrical runs in Minneapolis Chicago, and Los Angeles in 2010-11. Jajeh has also produced and directed award winning independent film and video projects that have screened nationally and internationally in film festivals, museums, and universities. Her work has been profiled by the KRON 4 News, WBAI NYC, Link TV, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NOX Magazine Jordan. Named one of Fen Magazine's 2011 Artists to Watch, she is currently at work on a new web series, In Bed with Jen Jajeh. Jennifer is honored to be presenting alongside this group of talented women.
About the work…With the current ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the threat of global terrorism, and the never-ending negotiations and hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed by all of the bad international news. That's exactly how Jennifer Jajeh feels. And to make matters worse, Jennifer is Palestinian. Well, Palestinian American. Or more precisely: a single, Christian, first generation, Palestinian American woman who chooses to return to her parents' hometown of Ramallah at the start of the Second Intifada. Join her on American and Palestinian soil on auditions, bad dates, and across military checkpoints as she navigates the thorny terrain around Palestinian identity. Weaving together humor, slides, pop culture references and live theatre, Jajeh explores how she becomes Palestinian-ized, then politicized and eventually radicalized in a fresh, often funny, searingly honest way.
Rohina Malik is a Chicago-based playwright, actress and solo performance artist. She was born and raised in London, England, of South Asian heritage. Rohina is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, an artistic associate at the 16th Street Theater, and she was one of the four writers in the inaugural group of The Goodman Theater's Playwrights Unit. Her one woman play Unveiled had its World Premiere in May 2009 at the 16th Street Theater, where it received critical acclaim, and the entire run and extension was sold out. Unveiled received a second production at Victory Gardens Theater, a third production at Next Theater, and a fourth production at Brava Theater, San Francisco. Her plays Yasmina's Necklace and The Mecca Tales (a Goodman commission) were both developed and had staged readings at The Goodman Theater.
About the work… Unveiled is the story of Noor and Moroccan Mint tea. Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life. Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil in this compelling one-woman show.
Maryam Rostami is a San Francisco based drag queen and contemporary performance artist from Texas. Her work deals with the complexities of the modern condition through the lens of an overachieving child of model minorities. She involves audiences on a visual, intellectual and emotional level, and is dedicated to artistic engagement as an invitation for thinking about, looking at and talking to one another differently. Her drag/nightlife persona, Mona G. Hawd, uses lipsync, movement, narrative, dance and an exaggerated high femme medium to question ownership of images in our culture.
…Persepolis, Texas: FOBspring to Drag Queen is Maryam's debut solo show and played to packed audiences in at CounterPULSE in the summer of 2011. It is a compilation of many characters that respond to her experience growing up as a child of Iranian immigrants in Texas, reflected by the drag queen that she has become here in San Francisco.
Started in 1909 in the U.S., International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
Founded in 1996, Golden Thread Productions is dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities as expressed around the globe. We present alternative perspectives of the Middle East by developing and producing theatrical work that is aesthetically varied and politically and viscerally engaging, while supporting countless Middle Eastern artists in all phases of their careers. Our mission is to make the Middle East a potent presence on the American stage and also to make theatre a treasured cultural experience within Middle Eastern communities. We build cultural bridges by engaging the community in an active dialogue and facilitating collaborations among artists of diverse backgrounds with the aim of creating a world where the common human experience supersedes cultural and political differences.
Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director / Serge Bakalian, Managing Director
450 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 / 415.626.4061 / firstname.lastname@example.org