by Torange Yeghiazarian in collaboration with Vida Ghahremani, L. Peter Callender, Nakissa Etemad, Laura Hope, and Marcus Shelby
Inspired by Duke Ellington Orchestra’s 1963 tour to Iran, Isfahan Blues imagines an unlikely friendship between an American jazz musician and an Iranian actress. As they travel together to Isfahan, “the most beautiful city in the world,” Jazz inspires them to test the limits of freedom, creativity, and experimentation. Contrary to today’s political stalemate between the US and Iran, this production aims to shed light on a little-known historical moment when a uniquely American art form inspired generations of young Iranian musicians.
May 2, 2015 - May 25, 2015
Buriel Clay Theatre
762 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Written by Torange Yeghiazarian in collaboration with Vida Ghahremani, L. Peter Callender, Nakissa Etemad, Laura Hope, and Marcus Shelby
Directed by Laura Hope
Featuring Sofia Ahmad*, L. Peter Callender, Vida Ghahremani, Behzad Golemohammadi, Alexander M Lydon, Lawrence Radecker, Mohammad Talani
Musical Director Marcus Shelby
Dramaturgy by Nakissa Etemad
A Co-Production with African-American Shakespeare Company
Everyone is raving about Isfahan Blues!
“As Ray, L. Peter Callender does vibrant but nuanced work. Sofia Ahmad brings a vivacious personality to the young Vida. Ghahremani lends authentic gravitas to the older Vida.” - Richard Dodds from Bay Area Reporter
Isfahan Blues featured on BBC Persian
Torange Yeghiazarian is the Executive Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East, where she launched such visionary programs as ReOrient Festival & Forum, Middle East America (in partnership with the Lark and Silkroad Rising), Islam 101 (with Hafiz Karmali), New Threads, and the Fairytale Players. Torange’s plays include ISFAHAN BLUES, 444 DAYS, THE FIFTH STRING: ZIRYAB’S PASSAGE TO CORDOBA, and CALL ME MEHDI. She is currently under commission by Philip Kan Gotanda to adapt his seminal play, THE WASH to an Armenian setting. Awards include the Gerbode-Hewlett Playwright Commission Award (ISFAHAN BLUES) and a commission by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (THE FIFTH STRING). Her short play CALL ME MEHDI is published in the anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009. Torange adapted the poem, I SELL SOULS by Simin Behbehani to the stage, and directed the premieres of SCENIC ROUTES by Yussef El Guindi, THE MYTH OF CREATION by Sadegh Hedayat, TAMAM by Betty Shamieh, STUCK by Amir Al-Azraki and VOICE ROOM by Reza Soroor, amongst others. Her articles on contemporary theatre in Iran have been published in The Drama Review (2012), American Theatre Magazine (2010), and Theatre Bay Area Magazine (2010), and HowlRound. Torange has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and Cambridge World Encyclopedia of Stage Actors. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.
Laura Hope is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Loyola University New Orleans, where she also the co-chair of the interdisciplinary minor in Women’s Studies, and serves as faculty for the interdisciplinary minors in African and African American Studies and Middle East Peace Studies. She has worked from coast to coast as director, dramaturg, and actor, and is a contributing dramaturg at the California Shakespeare Theatre. Favorite directing projects include El Nogalar by Tanya Saracho, In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at Loyola University, Blackbird by Adam Rapp at The Elm Theatre in New Orleans (four Big Easy Theatre Award nominations), and Show and Tell by Anthony Clarvoe at San Francisco’s Symmetry Theatre Company. Before relocating to New Orleans, she served as the Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, and the Literary Manager and Festival Director for Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Since 2002, she has been an Artistic Associate with Golden Thread Productions, a San Francisco company dedicated to theatre about the Middle East. Ashgate Press will publish Dr. Hope’s book on dramaturgy entitled Feminism and Dramaturgy: The Road Less Traveled, co-written with Dr. Philippa Kelly, next year. In October 2013, she directs her edit of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, set in 1935.
Sofia Ahmad first worked with Golden Thread – and Torange and Vida – in the original musical THE LOVE MISSILE; she’s thrilled to continue the collaboration with them and this amazing cast/crew on this trip to Isfahan. Other Bay Area credits include: ALECTO IN JUST DESERTS (Those Women Productions); Bianca/Lodovico in OTHELLO (Arabian Shakespeare Festival); Julia in TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, Luciana in COMEDY OF ERRORS, Hero in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival); Poppaea/Octavia in NERO, Delilah in THE BLACK EYED (Magic Theatre); Regan in KING LEAR, Phebe in AS YOU LIKE IT(Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival); Cressida in TROILUS & CRESSIDA (Pacific Repertory Theater); San Jose Stage; Shotgun Players; Bay Area Playwrights Festival; New Conservatory Theater. She is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
L. Peter Callender
L. Peter Callender
L. Peter Callender is the Artistic Director of the African-American Shakespeare Company and an award-winning actor of classics and new plays: Craig Lucas’ PRELUDE TO A KISS, George C Wolfe’s SPUNK, Eric Overmeyer’s THE HELIOTROPE BOUQUET, Robert ‘Hara’s INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY and Leslie Lee’s BLACK EAGLES. A alumni of Juilliard School in New York and the Tadashi Suzuki Company, Peter was named the Best Actor by the East Bay Express and has received several Dean Goodman Awards as Outstanding Lead Actor, as well as the Goldie Award and two Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor Bay Area Critics Award as Best Actor.
Nakissa Etemad is a professional dramaturg, producer, director, and French translator based in San Francisco. Executive VP Freelance and Regional VP Metro Bay Area for LMDA, she has worked in the field of dramaturgy for over twenty years, including full-time posts as Dramaturg and Literary Manager for Philadelphia’s The Wilma Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and San Diego Rep. Nakissa has fostered 23 professional world premieres of plays and musicals and has dramaturged over 80 productions, workshops, and staged readings with such writers as Tom Stoppard, Arthur Miller, Lynn Nottage, Polly Pen, Marcus Gardley, Charles L. Mee, Luis Valdez, Julie Hébert, Katori Hall, Lauren Yee, Marisela Treviño Orta, and Culture Clash. Recent projects include: Dramaturg for four multi-city world premieres of Marcus Gardley’s the road weeps, the well runs dry; Dramaturg & Writer in Collaboration with Margo Hall & composer Marcus Shelby on the world premiere Be Bop Baby: A Musical Memoir at Z Space. She has also provided dramaturgy for Arena Stage, Alliance Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, O’Neill Music Theater Conference, The Lark, Cutting Ball (as Resident Dramaturg for Marcus Gardley’s …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, and two Ionesco plays), Bay Area Playwrights Festivals, Crowded Fire, Alter Theater, French Consulate SF, and the inaugural season of Berkeley Rep’s The Ground Floor, among others.
Vida Ghahremani began acting in films as a teenager in Iran, where she established the standards of stardom. Some of her Iranian film classics include, CHAHAR RAH HAVADES, TOOFAN DAR SHAHR MA, FARYAD NIMEH-SHAB, FARDA ROWSHAN AST, ATASH VA KHAKESTAR, ESHGH VA ENTEGHAM. In the US, she appeared in the award-winning film by Wayne Wang, ONE THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS, and THE STONING OF SORAYA M by Cyrus Nowrasteh. Vida has been an artistic associate with Golden Thread since its first production, OPERATION NO PENETRATION, LYSISTRATA 97! Other performances include THE LOVE MISSILE (with Sofia Ahmad as her daughter), ABAGA and NINE ARMENIANS. Ms. Ghahremani is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Behzad Golemohammadi is delighted to be back at Golden Thread Productions after his last appearance in NINE ARMENIANS (2002). Recent credits include Bahram Beyzaei’s ARDAVIROF REPORT at Stanford University, and Darvag Theater Company productions of THE ROAD, THE BEAR, and RED AND OTHERS. He has been in numerous Darvag productions such as EIGHTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, BUTTERFLY, DOLLS and INTERVIEW. He started his theatrical career with Theater Telos’s THE LOWER DEPTHS (Gorky) and De Ghelderode’s PANTAGLEIZE.
US Security Officer, Ensemble
Alex Lydon is thrilled to be a part of this Golden Thread Productions and African-American Shakespeare Company co-production. This will mark Alex’s debut with both Golden Thread and African-American Shakes. Previous credits include Chamber Macbeth (Rapid Descent), Daffodil (Bricka Brack), This Lingering Life (Theatre of Yugen), Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Bay Area Children’s Theatre), 410[GONE] (Crowded Fire Theatre). Alex is a 2014 Theatre Bay Area TITAN Award recipient.
Loan Shark, Ensemble
Lawrence Radecker* has appeared in numerous Golden Thread productions, readings and workshops including LEARN TO BE LATINA, WORM, SECURITY and NIGHT OVER ERZINGA. He is a resident artist with Crowded Fire Theater Company where he has developed and debuted roles in many world premieres. He has also worked with Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Brava! For Women in the Arts, Cutting Ball, Impact Theatre and Uncle Buzzy’s Hometown Theatre Show. He can also be seen and heard in a variety of industrials and voiceovers, as well as a few films and television series.
Named one of the “Top Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area,” Marcus Anthony Shelby (composer & music director) is an award-winning composer, band leader and bass player. He has collaborated extensively with multidisciplinary artists and arts organizations composing original scores and commissions for the stage, dance and film. The Marcus Shelby Orchestra tours nationally and internationally and performs locally at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Intersection for the Arts.
Born in Iran, Mohammad Talani (Farid) is a Berkeley based musician, actor and videographer. He is founding member of BandBand and joined the indie Iranian band, Kiosk in 2012. He has been living in U.S since 2010 and collaborated with different artists such as Bahram Beyzaei, Mohsen Namjoo, Babak Jalali, Shahrzad Sepanlou and Circo cafe.