by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
We’re delighted to bring you the World Premiere of Adam Ashraf Elsayigh’s Drowning in Cairo, originally presented and partially developed as part of Golden Thread’s New Threads Reading Series in 2018.
It is May 2001 in Cairo. Moody, Khalid, and their servant Taha are on the Queen Boat, a gay nightclub docked on the Nile. When an unexpected police raid results in the arrest and public humiliation of the attendees, the lives of these young men are altered forever. Adam Ashraf Elsayigh’s debut production weaves budding romances, class differences, and familial expectations into a loving portrait of three men who all struggle to rebuild their lives against all odds.
Adam says: “Golden Thread was my first artistic home in the U.S.; my experience workshopping an early draft of Drowning in Cairo at Golden Thread showed me that there was a space for my voice and artistry in this country. That the same play gets to have its world premiere here, four years later, especially under the brilliant direction and artistry of Sahar Assaf, feels like a true blessing and homecoming.”
Check out this episode of our digital series NO SUMMARY: Conversations with Artists Who Don’t Fit in a Box, which featured Adam in conversation with Drowning in Cairo director and Golden Thread Executive Artistic Director Sahar Assaf on December 3, 2021, to learn more.
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April 8, 2022 - May 1, 2022
1695 18th Street, San Francisco
In-Person Performances April 8 - May 1, 2022
Written by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
Directed by Sahar Assaf
Featuring Amin El Gamal*, Wiley Naman Strasser*, Martin Yousif Zebari
Design Team: Kenan Arun (Make-up Design), Atusa Assadi (Assistant Stage Manager), Becky Bodurtha (Costume Design), Kate Boyd (Lighting Design), Peet Cocke (Props Design), Maya Herbsman (Intimacy Choreographer), Yang Li (Wardrobe Assistant), Crystal Liu (Board Op), Tyler Miller (Production Manager), Carla Pantoja (Fight Choreographer), George Psarras (Sound Design), Karen Runk* (Stage Manager), Chris Swartzell (Technical Director), Mikiko Uesugi (Set Design)
Dramaturgy by Salma Zohdi
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Per CDC guidance, we encourage the use of procedural masks (either alone or with a cloth mask on top) or a higher grade N95 or KN95 mask instead of cloth masks alone. Masks must be worn at all times in all areas of the theatre.
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Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh (he/him) is an Egyptian playwright, dramaturg, and theater maker living in New York. Through his writing and producing, Adam interrogates the intersections of queerness, immigration, and colonialism. Some of Adam’s plays include Memorial, Jamestown/Williamsburg, The Marginalia, and Drowning in Cairo. Adam is a fellow at Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and a Co-Founder and former Co-Producer of The Criminal Queerness Festival. Adam’s work has been seen at IRT Theater, Dixon Place, Golden Thread Productions, and The NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center. When he’s not frantically drafting a new play or producing a theater festival, you can probably find Adam running on the GWB, volunteering, or planning his next charcuterie brunch. Adam holds a BA in Theater with an emphasis in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from NYU Abu Dhabi and is currently pursuing his MFA in Playwriting at Brooklyn College.
Sahar Assaf (she/her) is Golden Thread’s Executive Artistic Director. She is a Lebanese stage actor, director, translator, and producer. Before joining Golden Thread, Sahar taught theatre at the American University of Beirut where she co-founded the AUB Theater Initiative with playwright and English Professor Robert Myers. Her work at the Theater Initiative includes translating and directing Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding in a site-specific promenade performance and co-translating, co-directing, and starring in Shakespeare’s King Lear at al-Madina Theater in Beirut, the first production of Shakespeare in Lebanese colloquial, The Rape and Rituals of Signs and Transformations by Sa’dallah Wannous, Watch Your Step: Beirut Heritage Walking Tour which was a site-specific devised work on the Lebanese civil war. Sahar is a strong advocate of documentary theatre and recently conceived and directed Meen El Felten, an immersive documentary play on sexual assault and No Demand No Supply, a hybrid documentary play about sex trafficking and prostitution. She is a member of Lincoln Center Director’s Lab (2014), co-founder and artistic director of Directors Lab Mediterranean (2019), and a Fulbright alumnus with an MA in Theater Studies from Central Washington University (2011). Drowning in Cairo is Sahar’s directorial debut at Golden Thread Productions.
Amin El Gamal is a first-generation Egyptian American actor originally from the Bay Area. He’s best known for playing Cyclops on Fox’s Prison Break revival—which made him the first openly queer Muslim actor to play a leading role on television.
Amin’s other TV work includes The Newsroom, Shameless, Transparent, The Librarians, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, and Good Trouble. His film work includes Message from the King (opposite Chadwick Boseman), Namour, First Love, the upcoming Spring Bloom, and the gay Muslim rom-com Breaking Fast (now on Hulu).
On stage, he has appeared in productions and workshops at the NY Public Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Musical Theatre West, A Noise Within, and the Pasadena Playhouse. He is a graduate of Stanford and USC’s MFA in Acting Program.
Wiley Naman Strasser is an Armenian-American performer native to the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently he appeared in the Broadway national tour of A Christmas Carol at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, a Tony Award-winning production originally conceived at the Old Vic in London. Other credits include work with Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Aurora Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep and world premieres with Detour Dance, Hope Mohr Dance, Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball, Crowded Fire, and the Los Angeles Theater Center. He has trained internationally with Teatr Zar and Teatro Yuyachkani, and received his degree from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Martin Zebari (he/they) is an Iraqi, Assyrian-American actor, playwright and recent Los Angeles transplant. As an actor, he has worked with Goodman Theatre (The Winter’s Tale, Yasmina’s Necklace), Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Guards at the Taj), Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Mary Stuart), Court Theatre (The Hard Problem), Atlantic Theatre Company (For the Right Reasons), National Queer Theatre (Mosque4Mosque), The Angle Project (Unpitied, Lost and Guided), Broken Nose Theatre Company (Human Terrain), Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (A Christmas Carol, Dreamgirls), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, Failure: A Love Story, The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare) and has appeared on NBC’s Chicago Med. Martin holds a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.