A livestream conversation series with live audience Q&A.
These curated digital discussions invite artists of Middle Eastern and North African heritage to discuss the many layers of their identity and how it impacts their work and artistic choices.
We were thrilled with the launch NO SUMMARY, our new Live-Stream Series of MENA artists in conversation, and continue this interactive live-streaming series monthly with exciting new topics and guests! We invite you to take pause with us and immerse yourself in these compelling topics and histories that defy a snappy summation. See below for a preview schedule of our upcoming episodes, and to watch any of our past archived episodes!
NO SUMMARY launches with a conversation with Naghmeh Samini, playwright of The Language of Wild Berries, which will be released as a radio play on October 6th. One of Iran’s leading playwrights, Samini’s work has been presented across Europe and Asia but she has never been produced in the US in English. At a time when US-Iran relations are at an all-time low, hearing directly from artists that create in both countries has never been more vital. The cast and creative team from the radio play will join the conversation.
The series continues with a conversation with four playwrights of Arab heritage based in the US and the UK: Hassan Abdulrazzak, Tariq Hamami, Hannah Khalil, and Mona Mansour. We recently commissioned this extraordinary group to write new plays exploring vital themes and unique collaborations inspired by our current reality. Abdulrazzak, Khalil, and Mansour will develop a remote collaboration model to co-write a new play, and Hamami will write a play exploring the Black Panthers’ residency in Algeria in the 1960s and 70s.
At Golden Thread we know that representation matters, especially for youth. Join Simon Bloch, Maya Nazzal, and Sarah Al-Kassab as they discuss their experience of creating and performing in Golden Thread’s Fairytale Players Production of Leila’s Quest for Flight which will be released as a radio play on November 10th. Drawn from Palestinian folktales, Leila’s Quest for Flight is written and directed by Torange Yeghiazarian.
Join us for a chat with Golden Thread Board President and beloved actor Nora el Samahy and longtime resident artist Evren Odcikin, now serving as the Associate Artistic Director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They will discuss championing Middle Eastern stories and voices in mainstream American theater, how artists can be centered in this moment of transition for the field, and art-making during a pandemic! Nora and Evren will dive into their current collaboration with Mona Mansour, a Golden Thread resident artist and 2020 commissioned playwright who was featured in our second NO SUMMARY episode. Additionally, Evren will discuss his production of This is Who I Am by Amir Nizar Zuabi, known to Golden Thread audiences as the playwright of Oh My Sweet Land in which Nora performed, staged at home and community kitchens. This is Who I Am is a play written for Zoom and created with an international group of collaborators during the lockdown, performed December 5, 2020-January 3, 2021.
NO SUMMARY series returns with a conversation with John Eisner, Jamil Khoury, and Torange Yeghiazarian, the founders of Middle East America: A National New Plays Initiative (MEA). They will discuss the program’s lasting impact and the future of Middle Eastern American theatre. Launched in 2008 by The Lark, Silk Road Rising, and Golden Thread, the program supported the development and production of new work such as Night Over Erzinga by Adriana Sevahn Nichols, and We Swim We Talk We Got to War by Mona Mansour. Golden Thread’s Nora El Samahy will facilitate.
In an already complicated landscape of Middle Eastern identities, holding up our queerness can prove a challenge. Three artists and one mother discuss how they have navigated these terrains, integrating them in their life and work. Kenan Arun is a Turkish makeup designer and Golden Thread resident artist, as well as the Director of Operations at The LGBT Asylum Project. Amin El Gamal is an Egyptian American actor active in theatre, film, and television. Humaira Ghilzai is an Afghan American writer, activist, and cultural advisor for theatre, film, and television. Iranian American Sara Razavi, CEO of non-profit lending entity Working Solutions and Golden Thread resident artist, will facilitate.
Meet Sahar Assaf, Golden Thread’s new Executive Artistic Director in conversation with our Founder, Torange Yeghiazarian where they discuss the company’s legacy and vision for the future. In April, Golden Thread announced its leadership transition after 25 years under the helm of its founder. What is it like for a pioneering organization to change leadership? How does it feel to step in the shoes of a trailblazer? And what is the new leader’s vision for the organization’s future? Tune in to find out! Author, director, theatre professor at University of Oregon, and leading specialist on Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern American theatre, Michael Malek Najjar will facilitate.
Just in time for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, a few of our community artivists will be having a kiki to discuss deviant theatrics. They’ll be talking about working as SWANA Queers in various American theater scenes, and sharing what it takes to keep their artivists' bodies and minds in tune. It’s all about juggling the entertainment industry of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres, with an LGBTQ+ spin!
NO SUMMARY is back featuring a brand new digital platform celebrating MENA Playwrights! We are honored to host the launch of the first and only searchable database in the field of MENA Theatre: The Digital Guide to Theatre of the Middle East: 21st Century Volume (DGTOME) created by dramaturg and researcher Marjan Moosavi. Marjan will present the DGTOME and speak about this transnational collaboration of experts and artists that led to the emergence of this pioneering archival project. The presentation is followed by a roundtable discussion with Arts Professor Catherine Coray, playwright Adam El Sayegh, and stage director Pirronne Yousefzadeh, moderated by our Executive Artistic Director Sahar Assaf and Samer Al Saber, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University, about the intersection of digital humanities research and MENA theatre and how DGTOME debunks the scarcity narrative of MENA playwrights and MENA stories.
In this episode we put the spotlight on three of the emerging SWANA theatre companies in the United States: Dunya Productions in Seattle, Peydah Theatre Company in New York City, and Medina Theater Collective in Chicago, whose work is bravely making space for diverse SWANA stories in the U.S. theatre scene. Andrea Assaf (writer, performer, director and the founding Artistic/Executive Director of Art2Action, Inc.) will facilitate this conversation with Nabra Nelson (theatre creator and founding company member of Dunya Productions), Shadi Ghaheri (director, choreographer, writer and founding member of Peydah Theatre Company), and Rohina Malik (playwright and solo performer and Founding Artistic Director of Medina Theater collective) as they tell us about their companies’ missions and visions, the projects they’re working on and what it means to be amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in today’s USA.
On August 1st, 2021, ‘Theatre from the Streets’ was launched as an international pilot program aiming to bring forth truthful stories and realities of the people of Palestine, India and Venezuela to contrast biased political and mainstream narratives. The program continues on every Sunday through October 17, 2021 hosting readings of short theatre works from the streets to create conversations across borders with global audiences. No Summary invites writer and theatre critic Mona Merhi to moderate a conversation with two of the project partners: Iman Aoun, the co-founder and Artistic Director of Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah, Palestine and Melody Brooks, the founder and Artistic Director of New Perspectives Theatre Company in New York to tell us about this international collaboration, what prompted them to start the project, what are some of their major discoveries and how they are envisioning the future of the program.
No Summary returns with ‘Shahrazad Squad,’ a project created and directed by producer Raeshma Razvi in collaboration with theater company Cal Shakes and Squad members. Golden Thread invites Zeina Salame (Artist-Scholar-Educator) to moderate a conversation with Raeshma Razvi and Leila Buck (Playwright, performer, facilitator, educator) about this project which gathers MENASA women/non-binary creatives, cultural producers and change-makers in person and online to share stories and diasporic experiences, showcase creative work and leadership, and nurture joy, belonging and healing in our communities and beyond.
In this last No Summary episode for 2021, our Executive Artistic Director Sahar Assaf will be in conversation with playwright Adam Ashraf Elsayigh, author of Drowning in Cairo, which will have its world premiere at Golden Thread in the spring of 2022. Growing up in Lebanon and Egypt respectively, Sahar and Adam, both advocates of documentary theatre, will engage in an intimate and open conversation about what made them interested in making theatre. The artists will talk about their theatrical journeys, their processes, and why Drowning in Cairo, a play centered on the lives of 3 Arab gay men, is particularly important now.