ReOrient Forum 2015

ReOrient Forum Panel Schedule:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Welcome by Torange Yeghiazarian
Golden Thread Productions Founding Artistic Director

Youth, Activism, and Arts: Cultures of Protest/Protesting Culture
Keynote Address: Sunaina Maira

Art is an important medium of protest in the Middle East and across the world. How can artistic expression challenge the dominant assumptions about Muslim and Middle Eastern youth and communities in the US? What does it mean for protest culture to also protest cultural norms and hierarchies—of race, religion, class, gender, and sexuality? Maira will draw on her research on Palestinian, Afghan, and South Asian American youth culture and activism. The talk will be followed by a dialogue with the audience.

Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching focus on Asian and Arab American youth, citizenship, and popular culture. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and co-editor of books including Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award. Her recent publications include the book, Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire After 9/11, and Jil [Generation] Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and the Youth Movement, based on ethnographic research in Palestine. Her new book project is a study of South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American youth in the Bay Area and post-9/11 activism focused on civil and human rights and issues of sovereignty and surveillance in the War on Terror.

10:15am - 11:15am
Project Alo? An International Mobile Video Play

Sponsor: Theatre Communications Group
Chair: Fatima Zahra El Filali
Speakers: Select Project Alo? participants via Google Hangout

Our ability to engage in theatre collaborations across borders, particularly with artists living in the Middle East has been curtailed by lack of funding and politics. How can we create opportunities for collaboration among otherwise disconnected individuals that are cost-effective, manageable and have the potential to lead to long term relationships? Golden Thread’s Project Alo? teamed up 5 pairs of artists to engage in performative conversations using 1 minute video clips captured on their cell phones. The end result is video dialogues that are intimate, imaginative and reflect the need for connection.

11:30am - 12:45pm
Roots, Resistance & Reconciliation: Performance as Space for Social and Cultural Restoration

Sponsor: University of San Francisco, Performing Arts & Social Justice Program
Chair: Roberto Varea (Associate Professor, Performing Arts & Social Justice, University of San Francisco)
Panelists: Claudia Bernardi (Artist, wallsofhope.org), L.M. Bogad (Author, Artist, Activist), Amie Dowling (Artist, Scholar, well contested sites), Philip Kan Gotanda (Playwright, Performer, Director)

In the midst or aftermath of social conflict, or while enduring ongoing structural violence, the task of restoring the torn social fabric of affected communities and sustaining oppressed identities is formidable and relentless. Artists and cultural workers often play a central role in sustaining identity –and humanity, through their creative work. This panel asks: how does performance (or art) contribute to accessing cultural memory, sustaining resistance practices and, if possible, facilitating reconciliation processes? What can the creative imagination unlock that may make breakthroughs possible? Is it possible to engage “the other” through a performance work that may reveal a common humanity?

3:30pm - 4:45pm
Divided Stages: 50 Years of Performing Iran in the U.S.

Sponsor: Diaspora Arts Connection
Chair: Babak Rahimi (University of California, San Diego)
Panelists: Mahmood Karimi-Hakak (Professor, Creative Arts, Sienna College, Albany, NY), Aida Keikhaeii (Actor, Tehran and Toronto), Nahal Navidar (Playwright, Los Angeles), Bella Warda (Actor and Director, Darvag, Berkeley), Mohammad Yaghoubi (Playwright and Director, Tehran and Toronto), Torange Yeghiazarian (Playwright and Director, Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco)

Iranian theatre artists have been active outside Iran since the 1960s. Responding to revolutions, coups, and various forms of political pressure, they have created performances that reflect an evolving national identity outside Iran’s geographic borders. What is the impetus for creating “Iranian theatre” outside Iran and how has the process changed through the decades? Four generations of Iranian theatre directors and playwrights will discuss their hopes and challenges in producing plays from and about Iran on North American stages.

5:00pm - 6:15pm
Orientations: Queering the Intersections of Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Religion and “Middle Eastern” Diasporic Communities

Co-Chairs: Kamee Abrahamian and lee williams boudakian (Dear Armen, Vancouver)
Panelists: Cybling (Hye-Phen Magazine, Los Angeles), Rose Nemet (Hye-Phen Magazine, Los Angeles), Anoushka Ratnarajah (Vancouver and New York City), Maryam Farnaz Rostami (MFR Productions/Nicole Kidman Is Fucking Gorgeous, San Francisco), Manish V (Peacock Rebellion, San Francisco)

It can often feel like one has to choose between queerness or ethnicity. So called feminist, queer and trans* communities can feel whitewashed, and yet our ethnic communities and families can feel rigid, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, and conservative. Still, there are many of us who inhabit a multitude of intersecting identities—refusing to make a choice and standing firm in our understanding that “either/or” reduces the nuances and complexities of our ethnic communities and our struggles for survival in the face of ongoing imperialism, displacement, and trauma. And so, we must contend with the inevitable questions: In what ways do we (re)claim queerness as brown and ethnic? In what ways do we (re)claim our ethnicities and religions as queer? And, what role does art play in these acts of reclamation? This panel explores what living at the intersections looks like, along with the masks, cultural myths, false dichotomies, in-between states, and shape-shifting that makes movement between multiple worlds possible. This is also and ultimately a conversation about how art and performance can act as a bridge between inherently linked but seemingly opposing experiences and identities.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

9:30am - 12:30pm
Theatre Between Home and Exile: New Palestinian Voices

Sponsor: Theatre Without Borders
Co-Chairs: Dr. Mas’ud Hamdan (Professor, University of Haifa, and Playwright and Scholar, Haifa) and Professor Rebekah Maggor (Affiliate at the Warren Center, Harvard University, and Translator and Scholar, Boston)
Panelists: Yasser Abu Shaqra (Playwright, Damascus. Residing in Turkey, via Skype), Rama Haydar (Playwright, Damascus. Residing in Granada), Hannah Khalil (Playwright, London), Ismail Khalidi (Playwright, New York), Dalia Taha (Playwright, Ramallah)

This performance and discussion forum on new Palestinian drama will bring together six playwrights from Palestine and the Diaspora, including a writer living and working in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, two Palestinian refugees who grew up in Syria and are now living in Turkey and Spain, and two dramatists of Palestinian descent writing in English in the U.S. and U.K. While the theme of identity and belonging tends to dominate plays written in English for Western audiences, issues of oppression, poverty, and corruption often stand at the center of works created within Palestine and the Arab World. Despite stark differences between them, how might these plays and writers join in solidarity with one another politically or aesthetically? This forum will offer a glimpse into exciting new works and a provocative and candid conversation on contemporary Palestinian theatre.

This panel will conclude with the exclusive launch of Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora, a new anthology edited by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi, that brings together work by six dynamic Palestinian playwrights from both occupied Palestine and the Diaspora.

This panel was made possible by generous funding from the Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program.

3:30pm - 5:00pm
Is Hyphenated Theatre Dead? Supporting Culturally-Specific Voices in an Increasingly Multifarious America

Sponsor: Theatre Bay Area
Chair: Brad Erickson (Theatre Bay Area)
Panelists: Steven Anthony Jones (Lorraine Hansberry Theatre), Sherri Young (African-American Shakespeare Company), Pearl Wong (Asian-American Theatre Company), Mina Morita (Crowded Fire Theatre Company), Ed Decker (New Conservatory Theater Center), Thomas Simpson (AfroSolo), Lily Tung Crystal (Ferocious Lotus)

The landscape of culturally-specific theatre in the Bay Area has shifted dramatically. National models such as the Traveling Jewish Theatre have closed. Longstanding organizations such as the Asian-American Theater Company and the Lorraine Hansberry have been quiet. How will culturally-specific voices be represented? Are the days of hyphenated theatre over? As we move towards an ever more multifaceted population, are artists and audiences reluctant to align themselves with one cultural identity alone? This session will be conducted in a highly-interactive “fishbowl” format.

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San Francisco, CA 94107
The ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone

Phone: 415.626.4061


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