ReOrient Forum 2009

ReOrient Forum Panel Schedule:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

9:00am - Registration

10:00am – Welcome & Keynote Address
Placing the Middle East Center Stage in America
Keynote speaker: Dr. Holly Hill, editor, “Salaam/Peace, An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Plays” TCG, 2009.

Dr. Hill will trace the evolution of the Middle Eastern-American voice on the American stage and elaborate on its significance.

Introducing Adriana Sevahn Nichols, Distinguished Playwright, Middle East America Initiative
Night Over Erzinga, an Armenian woman’s journey of discovery
Introduced by Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director, Silk Road Theatre Project

The Middle East America New Play Initiative is a national parternship between Golden Thread Productions, Chicago’s Silk Road Theatre Project and the Lark Play Development Center in New York. Adriana Sevahn Nichols is its first Distinguished Playwright award recipient and is developing Night Over Erzinga based on her grandparents' experience of surviving the Armenian Genocide.

11:15am - Book Launch
TCG’s “Salaam.Peace: an Anthology of Middle Eastern American Drama,” the first-ever collection of plays by Middle Eastern American artists.

Theatre Communications Group, the foremost publisher of theatre books in America, has selected the ReOrient Forum as the first public presentation of its “Salaam.Peace: an Anthology of Middle Eastern American Drama.” Golden Thread founder Torange Yeghiazarian and ReOrient playwrights Yussef el Guindi and Betty Shamieh are among the artists chosen for the anthology. Salaam editor Dr. Holly Hill will give the Forum’s keynote address on Middle Eastern American theatre’s history and growing importance. Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase

1:00pm - Internet Conferencing Session
Our Global Community: Reaching professional theatre artists in the Middle East

The Review
Internet Play Performance & Talkback with Yussef El Guindi in Cairo

For years, limited resources have hindered our ability to bring theatre artists from the Middle East to San Francisco. But now, thanks to the Internet and advances in video-conferencing technology, we are able to reach our colleagues in the Middle East on line. We will visit theatre artists in their work studio, perform an online play, and conduct Q&A with a playwright…over the Internet. Barring a global technological disaster, it should all work very smoothly!

2:30pm – Panel Discussion
Permission to Represent & Transform: New Play Development in the Age of Identity Politics
Participants: Motti Lerner (playwright), Denmo Ibrahim & Evren Odcikin (playwright & director), Adriana Sevahn Nichols (playwright)

Artists, particularly those from minority groups, often struggle with the responsibility of ‘representing’ their community. Driven by the urge to investigate their roots through developing a new play, three artists discuss their personal journey of reconnecting with their heritage, and redefining it in the process. Pioneering Asian-American playwright, Philip Gotanda, leads the conversation with Egyptian-American Denmo Ibrahim and Turkish-American Evren Odcikin, the creative team behind Ecstasy | a waterfable; and Armenian-Dominican-American Adriana Sevahn Nichols, Middle East America’s Distinguished Playwright, developing her new play Night Over Erzinga.

4:00pm - Concert *
ASWAT Bay Area Arab Music Ensemble

ASWAT’s large ensemble of singers and musicians will perform classical and folk songs including favorites by Fairuz, Abdel Halim Hafiz, Abdel Wahab, Um Kulthum, as well as Muwashshah hat, a seldom performed music from Andalucía. The program features soloists: Yasmeen Daifallah, Rana Mroue, and Husain Resan. The ensemble plays traditional musical instruments such as the qanun (trapezoidal zither), ‘ud (lute), nay (reed flute), Kaman (violin), riqq/daff (tambourine), tar and darbukkah/tablah (goblet drum).

Established in the year 2000, ASWAT is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting Arab American’s cultural heritage through music and art. ASWAT trains both Arab and American musicians and singers in folkloric, classical, and contemporary Arabic music

Sunday, December 6, 2009

10:00am – Panel Discussion
Theatre and Peace-building
Chair: Roberto Varea, USF Theatre & Social Justice Program
Participants: Catherine Filloux (Playwright, Theatre Without Borders), Motti Lerner (Playwright), Hafiz Karmali (Director)

Much has been made of the Arts, particularly theatre and cinema, in the service of the Empire. But what of theatre’s ability to build bridges and resolve conflicts? Argentinean director, Roberto Varea, Chair of University of San Francisco’s Performance & Social Justice Program, engages three international theatre artists who have devoted their careers to collaborating with marginalized communities and creating safe spaces for countering dominant narratives, as well as preserving histories that are at risk of extinction. Playwright, Catherine Filloux will discuss her work in Cambodia, playwright, Motti Lerner will share his experience in Israel and director, Hafiz Karmali will present his projects in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

11:30am - Internet Conferencing Session
Our Global Community: Reaching professional theatre artists in the Middle East

The Review
Internet Play Performance & Talkback with Yussef El Guindi in Cairo

For the first time in ReOrient history, a play will be performed live via the Internet with one character in San Francisco and the other in the Middle East. Written especially for this occasion, The Review, is a comedy of self-deprecation and painful co-dependency. Another gem from the writer of Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes!

1:30pm – Panel Discussion
Intercultural Artistic Exchange: Obstacles & Opportunities
Participants: Lisa Schlesinger (Playwright), Iman Aoun (Playwright), Hyesun Shin

How can we foster long-term creative relationships across borders and what are some examples of successful collaborations? This panel will offer some insight: American University M.A. Hyesun Shin will give an overview of funding trends in the U.S. for artistic exchange with the Middle East; American playwright Lisa Schlesinger and Palestinian playwright/director Iman Aoun, Artistic Director, Ashtar Theatre (from Ramallah via Internet) will share examples of their work jointly and individually; and Roberta Levitow will offer perspectives as co-founder of Theatre Without Borders. The conversation will be moderated by Emilya Cachapero, Director Artistic Programs and International Institute/US, Theatre Communications Group.

3:00pm - Performance*
Afsaneh Art & Culture Society

Live music will be performed by Pezhham Akhavass, Neema Hekmat, Kaveh Hedayati, Pourya Khademi, and Moses Sedler, and poetry recitation by Shadi Vaezzadeh. Featured dancers include Miriam Peretz and Mariam Gaibova.

Ballet Afsaneh has received critical acclaim for presenting the dance, music and poetry of the historic Silk Road. Their contemporary work melds ancient art forms with modern dance and theater, with a unique and richly imagistic approach. Sharlyn Sawyer, director.

7:30-11:00pm – Dance Party*
ReOrient Birthday Bash at the Artaud
DJ & Cash Bar

It wouldn’t be a Golden Thread event unless there was a great party!

DJ Jef Stott (Six Degrees Records) will bring his own special mix of Arabic Electro/ Bhangra Breaks/ Dervish Dub to your shaking hips and dancing feet. Jef has been at the forefront of the international Global Electronica movement as a producer, performer and composer, releasing several albums under his own moniker and with Stellamara, Lumin, MC RAI and Qadim. Jef has toured extensively sharing the stage with contemporaries Thievery Corporation, Bassnectar, Gaudi, Makyo, Cheb I Sabbah, Beats Antique, and David Starfire; and made an in depth study of the instruments of the Middle East with master teachers including Hamza el Din, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Yassir Chadley and Necati Celik among others. www.jefstott.com

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