20 Champions: Hafiz Karmali

Award-winning director Hafiz Karmali has directed numerous productions for Golden Thread, including Island of Animals, Rumi x 7 = Tales from the Masnavi, Night Over Erzinga, and plays for ReOrient Festivals. His visual and physical approach and his deep knowledge of Islamic styles and myths have made him an audience favorite with Golden Thread regulars.

What was your first experience with Golden Thread and when? My relationship with Golden Thread Productions and the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Torange Yeghiazarian, goes back ten years! In 2006, the Afghan Coalition and I were fortunate to receive a grant from the Christensen Fund to present Island of Animals—an Islamic fable. Just as I expressed the need to collaborate with a locally based theatre company, I came across a postcard advertising Golden Thread. I wasted no time in contacting Torange and we agreed to meet for coffee. Tory and I hit it off immediately and as they say, the rest is history.

Why do you need Golden Thread Productions? Aside from being a second home where I have presented a number of shows, I need Golden Thread to continue to show the way forward. There are only a handful of theatre companies across the States that focus on the Middle East: Markaz in Los Angeles; Silk Road Rising in Chicago; Noor in New York City. One can confidently declare that Golden Thread has been a pioneer among them. Golden Thread helps us navigate the socio-cultural/political landscape of our times with thought provoking and emotionally striking productions. Whether it’s the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the civil war in Syria, the Turkish government’s refusal to acknowledge its Armenian genocide, whatever the issue at hand, Golden Thread challenges our perceptions, informs our opinions and makes us more compassionate citizens of the world.

What was your strangest, oddest, funniest Golden Thread experience?
In the fall of 2009, I had the distinct pleasure of directing Yussef El Guindi’s Skype play The Review as well as his delightful adaptation of Chekhov’s Marriage Proposal. One of the strangest, oddest, funniest and most enjoyable experiences was to finally encounter the playwright over Skype as we participated in a ReOrient Forum. Yussef and I had been college classmates at the Carnegie-Mellon School of Drama in the early 1980s. Now, some 20 years later, he and I were re-united over Skype thanks to Golden Thread Productions.

Describe Golden Thread in 20 words (no cheating!) A ball of thread enables Theseus navigate the labyrinth after slaying Minotaur. Golden Thread maps the landscape of our times.

Read the rest of our “20 Champions for 20 Years” blog series!

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