20 Champions: Yussef El Guindi

Award-winning Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi, whose Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat is coming up in the fall, holds the honor of being the most produced playwright at Golden Thread. His previous premieres with the company include Language RoomsJihad Jones and the Kalashnikov BabesBack of the ThroatScenic Routes, and many shorts in ReOrient Festivals. Golden Thread performed El Guindi’s Karima’s City at the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre in 2004. Given his history with the company, he was an easy pick for our 20 Champions series.

What was your first experience with Golden Thread and when? I believe my first contact was having a short play or two done at the ReOrient Festival back in the Paleolithic period of Golden Thread’s existence. Back then we would light torches to illuminate the stage, and dress the actors in clothes found in dumpsters. We would go out and hunt down audiences and drag them back into the theater. Those were rough days of survival and not everyone made it. But the clan as a whole did, and the genes of Golden Thread have been successfully passed down.

Why do you need Golden Thread? Because there’s only a handful of theater companies (three or four?) in the entire American cultural landscape that devotes itself to seeking out and introducing voices from that region referred to as the Middle East and the voices of its many children that have migrated to the West. There’s still very little room at the inn for certain voices in mainstream America, so it’s nice, and essential, and thank God for one organization that makes its focus the voices of a region that so often goes unnamed in the arts.

What was your strangest, oddest, funniest Golden Thread experience? After many years in the cultural wilderness, it was lovely to just find a theater that wanted to hear from me. In theater land, to be sought out and encouraged, that is a very strange and odd sensation.

**Describe Golden Thread in 20 words (no cheating). ** The Golden Thread banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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

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