Four Arab Playwrights Respond to the Now!

We are thrilled to commission four playwrights of Arab heritage to write new plays responding to the pandemic and the call for social justice. Join us in congratulating  Hassan AbdulrazzakTariq HamamiHannah Khalil, and Mona Mansour! Each playwright is sponsored by an individual community member and will share updates about the development of the work with their sponsor. This is yet another example of Golden Thread’s commitment to our artists and to engaging the community in the creative process.

We are grateful to the following sponsors for supporting new adventurous theatre: Youssri Helmy and Fatma Abdelhalim for Hassan Abdulrazzak; Yoriko Kishimoto and Lee Collins for Tariq Hamami; May Allam for Hannah Khalil; Nora El Samahy and Patrick Kaliski for Mona Mansour.

The Projects:
The Black Panthers in Algeria Project - Inspired by the Black Panthers’ residency in Algiers in the 1960s, Tariq Hamami will explore the intersection of Black American and Algerian battle against colonialism and white supremacy. Drawing from his own family history, Hamami will develop a new play that will center the Algerian experience while highlighting the global interconnection in our ongoing struggle for freedom and human dignity.

The Arab Tryptic Project - Award winning playwrights and Golden Thread Resident Artists Hassan Abdulrazzak, Hannah Khalil and Mona Mansour will collaborate on a new play triptych. The trio will be working closely to create an innovative framework in which to develop the piece. Connecting online and taking each other’s ideas as inspiration this will be a truly unique coming together of three exciting writers of Arab heritage. 

We asked our commissioned playwrights a few questions about their projects!

What do you enjoy about working with Golden Thread?

Hannah Khalil - I love working with Golden Thread because it’s an opportunity to collaborate with like minded people who understand where I’m coming from and the kind of work I want to make. Golden Thread has a prestigious reputation not just in the US but in Europe too so I’m very proud to be a Resident Artist and embarking on a new piece for the company.

Hassan Abdulrazzak - Golden thread is an awesome force. A company that inspires me with their dedication to stories by Middle Eastern heritage artists. When my play Love, Bombs and Apples was co produced by GT, I was made to feel so welcome by the entire team. I felt like I was part of a family and that’s rare in the world of theatre. GT has taught me about the value of advocacy, about how we as Middle Eastern theatre makers can organise so that our voices can be heard better. It is a company that fills me with hope and energy and optimism. It’s an honour to be working with them again. 

Tariq Hamami - Golden Thread is not just a place that produces MENA-artist work but also nurtures the MENA artist. Starting with the people who work for Golden Thread and going through the community of artists they have cultivated, the entire experience is inspiring and invigorating. For me personally, when I’m working with Golden Thread or even when I’m just in attendance, I feel at home. As an artist, that feeling is vital.

Mona Mansour - I love working with Golden Thread because I never have to explain why stories about the Middle East are relevant. I love working with Golden Thread because I am always free to be adventurous with form, as I work on ideas that are important to all of us as we collaborate. I love working with Golden Thread because they have good taste. I love working with Goden Thread because the opening night food is incredible. #MiddleEasternFood

What about your commission project most excites you?

Hannah Khalil - This commission is incredibly exciting. To have the chance to make a new piece for GT working with two of my favourite writers and collaborators is absolutely thrilling. I’ve long admired Mona’s work so to get closer to her process will be really stimulating. Hassan and I are good friends and I think he’s one of the most imaginative and irreverent writers around. Though we’ve worked together in the past in different ways we have never co- written a piece. Writing can be such an isolated pastime, but this project will allow for dialogue and support between us three writers. I’m so grateful to Golden Thread for this opportunity to make a unique new play with these two brilliant minds.

Hassan Abdulrazzak - I’m excited to be co-writing the play with such amazing and highly talented writers. I wonder what common ground we will have, particularly at this tumultuous time that we are going through. The very nature of life and how we relate to one another has changed dramatically over the past few months. To be given the opportunity to capture some of that at this time is precious and I look forward to starting inspiring conversations with my fellow co-writers.

Tariq Hamami - The Black Panthers’ residency in Algiers was a coming together of two cultures with the common goal of fighting colonialism. Too often our society tries to divide us. They try to tell us our fight is our own and no one else cares. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to chip away at that narrative. This is a story of cultures coming together. As an Algerian, I’m proud of this and excited to share it.

Mona Mansour - I’m most excited to work on this commission because I’ll be creating something with two writers I admire a great deal – Hannah Khalil and Hassan Abdulrazzak. I look forward to seeing how our different sensibilities come to play in a joint creation.

Click here to watch our No Summary conversation with the commissioned playwrights, and see below for bios!

HASSAN ABDULRAZZAK’s Love, Bombs, and Apples US premiere was presented by Golden Thread Productions in partnership with Turtle Key Arts.  Hassan is of Iraqi origin, born in Prague and living in London. His plays include Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, 2007; Belvoir St Theatre, 2009; Akvarious Productions, 2010), The Prophet (Gate Theatre, 2012), Love, Bombs, and Apples (Arcola Theatre, 2016; and UK tour), and And Here I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017; and UK tour). His short plays include Lost Kingdom, which was selected out of 75 scripts to be part of San Francisco’s ReOrient 2015 Festival at Golden Thread, and Trump in Palestine, part of a multi-author show called Top Trumps performed at Theatre 503 (January, 2017). He has contributed to several anthologies including Iraq+100: Stories From a Century After the Invasion (Conemma Press, 2016) anrd Don’t Panic I’m Islamic (Saqi books, 2017). He is the recipient of George Devine, Meyer-Whitworth and Pearson theatre awards, as well as the Arab British Centre Award for Culture. abdulrazzak.weebly.com

TARIQ HAMAMI is an Algerian-American playwright whose full length plays include White Picket Fences (Access Theatre ’13), Spite (Cherry Lane Theatre, NY Fringe ’08), Everything Will Be Alright (Horace Mann Theatre ’09, BMCC ’09 & ’18), The Town of No One (NY Fringe ’11),and The One, Percy Ent (New Threads Reading Series, Golden Thread Productions ’16). His most recent projects include Smail, based on the true-story of his uncle’s imprisonment and persecution during the Algerian Civil War, and The Life of Mary Rogers, a musical based on the mysterious death of Mary Rogers in 1840’s NYC. His short plays include Queen Elizabeth of Factory Fifteen (Samuel French OOB Festival ‘11), Don’t Eat Almonds Off a Dead Guy (Tiny Rhino ’11 & ’13), Final Request (Nylon Fusion ‘17), and The First Line of Defense (Life As We Know It Festival ‘07). He holds a BA in Theatre from Kean University and an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University.

HANNAH KHALIL’s Scenes from 71 Yearspremiered at Golden Thread Productions in 2019. Her other stage plays include The Scar Test opened at Soho Theatre, London (“Political Theatre at its best” —Exeunt), Scenes from 68 Years at Arcola Theatre, London (2017 James Tait Black Award nomination; “confirms Khalil as a dramatist of compelling potential” —Daily Telegraph), The Worst Cook in the West Bank at Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, Bitterenders at Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco (winner Sandpit Arts’ Bulbul 2013), Plan D at Tristan Bates Theatre, London (nominated for the Meyer Whitworth Award), and Ring at (Soho Theatre’s Westminster Prize). Hannah’s work for radio includes The Deportation Room and Last of the Pearl Fishers, both for BBC Radio 4. She is currently working on Channel 4 drama Hollyoaks. Her first short film The Record took the Tommy Vine Award at the Underwire Festival 2015 and is in post-production. She is under commission for Shakespeare’s Globe, The RSC and the National Theatre of Scotland. She was the Bush Theatre’s writer on attachment as part of Project 2036 in 2017. hannahkhalil.com

MONA MANSOUR’s We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War, directed by Evren Odcikin premiered at Golden Thread in 2018. The Vagrant Trilogy premiered at Mosaic Theater in D.C. in June 2018, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. It was presented at New Dramatists in fall 2016 after a workshop at the Vineyard Arts Project with the Public Theater. Of the trilogy: The Hour of Feeling (directed by Wing-Davey) premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and a new Arabic translation was presented at NYU Abu Dhabi as part of its Arab Voices Festival in 2016; Urge For Going had productions at Public LAB (directed by Hal Brooks) and Golden Thread (directed by Odcikin); The Vagrant was workshopped at the 2013 Sundance Theater Institute. Other plays: *The Way West (*Labyrinth Theater, directed by Mimi O’Donnell; Steppenwolf, directed by Amy Morton; and Marin Theatre Company, directed by Hayley Finn), Unseen (Gift Theater Chicago, directed by Maureen Payne-Hahner), and In the Open (Waterwell, directed by James Dean Palmer). Mona is a member of New Dramatists. Commissions include Playwrights Horizons, Old Globe Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “American Revolutions.” 2012 Whiting Award. 2014 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award. monamansour.com

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