The First Ten Years!
by Yussef El Guindi, Motti Lerner, Betty Shamieh, Naomi Wallace, Torange Yeghiazarian, Caveh Zahedi
Golden Thread Productions celebrates the tenth anniversary of its one-of-a-kind festival of short plays exploring the Middle East featuring a world premiere by MacArthur Genius award-winner, Naomi Wallace, as well as a retrospective of plays from the festival’s past ten years including works by Yussef El Guindi, Motti Lerner, Betty Shamieh, Torange Yeghiazarian and Caveh Zahedi.
For four weeks, this one of a kind festival turns San Francisco into a Mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from around the world. Providing a rare opportunity for artists and audiences alike to engage deeply and directly with the Middle East in a creative and supportive setting that displaces misinformation and encourages understanding.
November 20, 2009 - December 14, 2009
1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA
Written by Yussef El Guindi, Motti Lerner, Betty Shamieh, Naomi Wallace, Torange Yeghiazarian, Caveh Zahedi
Directed by Arlene Hood, Hafiz Karmali, Mark Routhier, Bella Ramazan-Nia, Torange Yeghiazarian, M. Graham Smith
Featuring Vida Ghahremani, Leah Herman, Afif Houssain, Charles Isen*, Suraya Keating, Dina Mousawi, Basel Al-Naffouri, George Psarras, Sara Razavi, Maryam Rostami, Nora el Samahy*, Micheal Sommers, Ahou Tabibzadeh, Raffi Wartanian
Design Team: Kate Boyd (scenic), Blake Manship (lighting), Bradford Chapin (sound), Victoria Livingston-Hall (costumes), Mia Baxter (props)
The ReOrient Festival was conceived in 1999 to meet the urgent and ongoing need for Middle Eastern voices in American theatre and to create a home where Middle Eastern artists are nurtured and supported. The festival aims to showcase the vast variety of voices and styles emerging from and inspired by the Middle East and to bring together diverse communities to engage with the region. At the same time, the ReOrient Festival helps to demystify the region by encouraging writing about the Middle East by playwrights from all cultural, ethnic, and national backgrounds. Today, celebrating the festival’s tenth anniversary, ReOrient continues to be guided by these principles, serving as a forum for addressing current events and personal experiences.
In association with the festival, Golden Thread will present ReOrient Forum a two-day gathering of theatre artists and field specialists engaging in discussions about Middle Eastern-American Theatre, Internet conferencing with theatre artists in the Middle East, and an original play interactively performed in San Francisco and Cairo via the Internet. In addition, Golden Thread is proud to showcase the best of Bay Area Middle Eastern Arts by featuring performances by Ballet Afsaneh and ASWAT Bay Area Arabic.
American Theatre Magazine
Reorientalism: A festival of Middle Eastern drama witnesses the emergence of a new immigrant community—and a new category of U.S. theatre.
Salam.Peace: an Anthology of Middle Eastern American Drama
First ever collection of plays by American Middle Eastern playwrights. Published and presented by Theatre Communications Group. Copies available for sale in the lobby.
Internet Play Performance
The Review by Yussef El Guindi
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.
PASSAGES: Featuring May Hariri Aboutaam and Zeina Barakeh
Featuring May Hariri Aboutaam and Zeina Barakeh, this interactive exhibit provides an opportunity for the audience to participate in creating an alternative view of the Middle East. - Nov. 19th through Dec. 6th - (Opening Reception Sunday 11/22, 2-4:30pm) Open to public weekdays 1-3pm except Thanksgiving weekend.
ASWAT Bay Area Arabic 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.
Ballet Afsaneh has received critical acclaim for presenting the dance, music and poetry of the historic Silk Road. 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.
A two-day gathering of theatre artists and field specialists engaging in discussions about Middle Eastern-American Theatre, Internet conferencing with theatre artists in the Middle East, and an original play interactively performed in San Francisco and Cairo via the Internet. In addition, Golden Thread is proud to showcase the best of Bay Area Middle Eastern Performing Arts by featuring performances by Ballet Afsaneh and Aswat Bay Area Arabic Music Ensemble.
For more information and a full schedule, click here.
An American soldier has an unexpected encounter with two afghan sisters who are ready to embark on a new life. Their fate – and his – get more complicated as the line between their different realities becomes dangerously blurred.
Naomi Wallace’s plays include One Flea Spare, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours, The Fever Chart: Three Vision of the Middle East, And I and Silence, and Returning to Haifa (adapted with Ismail Khalidi). In 2009, One Flea Spare was incorporated in the permanent repertoire of the French National Theater, the Comédie- Francaise. Awards: An Obie Award, Kesselring Prize, the Horton Foote Award. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama, and an Arts and Letters Award in Literature.
From one of the most highly praised Arab-American playwrights comes this story of a young Palestinian woman: Her name is Tamam; it means enough!
Betty Shamieh is the author of fifteen plays. Productions include The Strangest (The Semitic Root), Fit For the Queen (Classical Theatre of Harlem), The Machine (Naked Angels) The Black Eyed (NYTW and Magic Theatre), Territories (Magic Theatre), and Roar (The New Group). Her works have been translated into seven languages, and her international productions include Again and Against (Playhouse Theater, Stockholm), The Black Eyed (Fournos Theatre, Athens), and Territories (Landes Theatre, Austria). 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship in Drama and Performance Art; Clifton Visiting Artist at Harvard College; Playwriting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies; 2011 UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue in 2011. B.A., Harvard College; M.F.A., Yale School of Drama. bettyshamieh.com
A compassionate inquiry into the fragility of the human spirit by one of Israel’s most vocal voices against the occupation.
Motti Lerner is a playwright and screenwriter, born in Israel in 1949. Motti teaches playwriting at the Kibbutz College in Tel Aviv and has been active in the peace movement in Israel since He frequently lectures at European and American Universities on playwriting, on the Israeli theatre, and especially on the Israeli theatre and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of his plays and films deal with political issues. He is a recipient of the Meskin Award for the best play (1985), and the Israeli Motion Picture Academy award for the best TV drama in 1995 and in 2004. In 1994 he won the Prime Minister’s of Israel Award for his creative work. His plays have been produced in the US, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Australia. His American productions include: The murder of Isaac at Centerstage Theatre, Baltimore, and also as part of the New York Now festival at the Public Theatre in NY), Exile in Jerusalem (Williamstown Festival – with Julie Harris in the title role, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Detroit, La Mama Theatre, NY, Theatre J Washington DC) Hard Love – Theatre Or, Durham NC, Victory Gardens, Chicago, and JTS in Atlanta, Passing The Love of Women– Theatre J, Washington DC, Coming Home– Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco, Pangs of the Messiah - Theatre J in Washington DC, Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago and Cleveland Playhouse in Cleveland. Benedictus for Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco, in LATC in Los Angeles, and in Theatre J in Washington DC. His play Pangs of the Messiah was nominated for the Helen Hayes award for the best play of 2008.
A cultural divide erupts in this bedroom comedy between an Iranian woman and her American husband.
Torange Yeghiazarian writes, directs and acts for the theatre. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University. Her plays (444 Days, Call Me Mehdi, Waves, Dawn at Midnight, Behind Glass Windows, Abaga) reflect the perspective of the culturally displaced in tackling today’s world of contradictory realities and values. As a teaching artist, Torange has taught playwriting to at-risk youth as part of the Each One Reach One program, incorporated theatre into social studies in Richmond’s Washington Elementary School as part of East Bay Center for Performing Arts’ Learning Without Borders program, and led acting and play development workshops for Golden Thread Productions. Torange would like to dedicate this production to the memory of Laura Stevens. She is greatly missed.
From the independent filmmaker responsible for I Am a Sex Addict and I don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore, comes a kooky comedy about a lovable loser’s futile attempts at picking up the woman of his dreams.
Caveh Zahedi is an autobiographical writer/actor/director who combines both dramatic and documentary elements in his work. His films have won awards at major international film festivals, and have been distributed theatrically, released on DVD, and broadcast on television. He is a Guggenheim recipient, a Rome Prize Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the 2005 Gotham Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Film Institute, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Creative Capital, and The San Francisco Arts Commission. His films include A Little Stiff (1991), I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore (1994), In The Bathtub of the World (2001), and I Am A Sex Addict (2005). He has also appeared as an actor in Waking Life (2001), A Sign From God (2000), Money Buys Happiness (1999), and Citizen Ruth (1996).
A lyrical tale of forbidden love between an Armenian man and a Turkish woman in Istanbul of 1915 repeats itself in Jerusalem of 1935 when their offspring falls for a Jewish immigrant.
Chekov’s classic comedy of class conflict and lemons adapted to an Egyptian family setting.
Two CNN anchors find themselves stuck in the news report of an American soldier’s death in Iraq. They can neither tell the deeper tale, nor move on.
Kevin Doyle (Playwright) is a writer and director of theatre and film from Brooklyn. Since 2005, he has served as the founding Artistic Director of the Brooklyn-based theatre company, Sponsored By Nobody. A college dropout, he worked for several years at odd jobs throughout New York State while studying art, literature and theatre on his own. Returning to college in 1999, he graduated with honors from the Drama Studies Program at Purchase College (SUNY) and studied theatre at the graduate level at Brooklyn College (CUNY). In 2004, his plays Styrofoam (Feed The Herd) and Compression of a Casualty (Golden Thread) premiered in New York City and San Francisco to critical acclaim. Since then, Doyle has written and/or directed seven original plays, while working as a music video director in France, Sweden and New York City. In 2010, Doyle will be an Artist In Residence at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center (NY) and the Monty Arts Centre (Belgium) in support of his play ATM or this is [not] new york. He was recently accepted as a 2010 Resident Artist at the Mabou Mines/Suite Program in New York City.
A Palestinian-American explores her identity in this poignant and comedic monologue. In the dialogue of nations, do you ever get the feeling that Palestine is just a monologue?
Playwright & Director
Torange Yeghiazarian writes, directs and acts for the theatre. She is the Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, where she has devoted her professional life to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities through theatre arts. In this capacity, Torange launched, ReOrient, an annual festival of short plays showcasing alternative perspectives of the Middle East. Most recently, Torange directed the West Coast premiere of A Girl’s War by Joyce Van Dyke, adapted the poetry of Simin Behbehani to the stage in I Sell Souls, collaborated with Iranian, Israeli and American artists on creating Benedictus, and produced the world premiere of Ecstasy | a waterfable by Denmo Ibrahim inspired by a 9th Century Sufi tale. Torange’s play *Call Me Mehdi is included in “Salaam/Peace: An Anthology of Middle-Eastern American Playwrights” published by TCG in 2009. Other plays include Waves, Dawn at Midnight, Behind Glass Windows, Abaga.*As a teaching artist, Torange has taught playwriting to at-risk youth as part of the Each One Reach One program, incorporated theatre into social studies in Richmond’s Washington Elementary School as part of the Learning Without Borders program, and led acting and play development workshops for youth and adults for Golden Thread. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.
Bella Ramazan-Nia: No Such Cold Thing.Bella,**an Iranian-born East Bay resident since 1980 is a founding member of the Darvag Theater group launched in 1985. She has had a long-running collaboration with Golden Thread Productions and when Naomi Wallace’s play was offered, Bella was eager to come on board as director. Her first encounter with Wallace was acting inThe State of Innocence, yet another play about human tragedy – in that case Palestinians and Israelis. Bella would like to express her gratitude to Torange Yeghiazarian and Naomi Wallace for this opportunity. And this too will melt away like snow in May.
M. Graham Smith
M. Graham Smith
M. Graham Smith: I’m Not a Serial Killer. Smith is the founder and Artistic Director of Precarious Theatre, San Francisco’s critically acclaimed ensemble theatre company. He is a core member of the Dell’arte company, a group focusing on classical and emerging physical theater forms. He has directed at the Walnut Theater in Philadelphia and the HERE American Living Room series in New York City. In San Francisco he has directed at the Yerba Buena Garden’s Festival, Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, the A.C.T.’s Masters program, Aurora Theatre, The EXIT Theatre, Playground, and New Conservatory Theatre, where his Kiss of the Spiderwoman was nominated for Best Overall Drama 2006 by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. This season he directed the world premiere of Philip Kan Gotanda’s #5 Angry Red Drum, as well as On The Rocks, part of the Me, Myself and I series at BRAVA, where he is also directing 4 staged readings paired with food and wine for Precarious Theatre’s Kitchen Series.
Basel Al-Naffouri has been acting and improvising for over 6 years. Basel started his career at MIT’s Theater department, where he appeared in the plays The Elephant your Majesty and Seven Menus. Combining his interest in the Middle East and his passion for improv, he most recently produced, directed and acted in An Improvised Arabian Nights at the Magic Theater. Basel has appeared in numerous films including Tamer Tate, Muslims at Work and Inheritance. He regularly performs with improv troupes such as Double Entendre and Audible Clique, and has studied with Studio ACT, Stanford Continued Studies, and the BATS School of Improv. Basel is excited to be performing for the first time with the ReOrient festival on its 10th anniversary.
Suraya Susana Keating
Suraya Susana Keating
Suraya Susana Keating is a Bay Area actress, director, Registered Drama Therapist and yoga instructor. She was most recently seen inZen Boyfriends, Tony-n-Tina’s Wedding, Marin Shakespeare’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in prison, and with the Golden Thread’s school and library touring group, The Fairytale Players. Suraya is currently working on another solo show, and will be directing Romeo and Juliet with inmates at San Quentin in spring 2010. In her spare time, Suraya likes to wander the globe studying people, languages, and fine dark chocolate. www.suraya.org
Dina Mousawi grew up in Baghdad and moved to England at the age of eight – at ten she began her professional acting career taking the lead in ‘The Prime Ministers Brain’ on ITV. Since then she has worked extensively in TV, theatre and film.
Theatre credits include: Jesus Christ & Chocolate Pudding; How the Rapist Was Born (Tristan Bates Theatre, London); Ali to Karim (US tour); The Marriage of Figaro (New Players Theatre, London); The Tempest; Mandragora King of India; Journey to the West; (Tara Arts UK tours); When Amar Met Jay (Lyric Hammersmith, London); Shakespeare and Tragedy (European tour); West Side Story (Alhambra Theatre, Bradford). Television: Coronation Street; Cold Feet (Granada); Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC); Gold; Wilderness Edge (Granada); King Girl (BBC); Just Us (ITV). Film: King of Bollywood (I Dream Productions); Asylum (Maximize Productions). Presenting: T4 (At It Productions for Channel 4); Freedom Fighting: Capoeira (Satellite Productions); Shakespeare Works! (KJ Films Ltd).
George Psarras is excited to make his debut with Golden Thread Productions. George was last seen as Aramis in The Three Musketeers at City Lights Theatre Company. Other City Lights credits include Tommy in First Person Shooter, Mercutio in Shakespod and Clyde/Chris in the world premiere of Voluntary Amnesia. With TheatreWorks, George has been involved in productions of The Elephant Man (understudy) and Anna In The Tropics (ensemble) where he also went on as Cheche for two performances. He has also appeared in Red Lantern Theatre Company’s Desire: An Evening of Plays on Love (Gil –All About Al) as well as Foothill Theatre Conservatory’s The Emperor’s New Clothes(Emperor). George is a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory at Foothill College.
Sara Razavi is reappearing as Hoda in The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue from ReOrient Festival 2007. One of the founding members of elastic future theatre company she has also been involved with several other local theatre companies including mugwumpin, No Nude Men, TheatreFIRST, Golden Thread Productions, and Darvag. Sara is the Executive Director of Honoring Emancipated Youth, a San Francisco based non-profit advocating for the needs of youth aging out of the foster care system (heysf.org).
Raffi Wartanian is a writer, multi-instrumentalist, and activist pleased to make his debut in the San Francisco theater community with Golden Thread. He recently moved from Baltimore where he studied acting with John Astin and Krista Smith at the Johns Hopkins University, and long-form improvisational comedy at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade theater. Raffi is the grandchild of Armenian genocide survivors and recently spent two months in Lebanon writing his first book during the Gaza War. Favorite productions include lead guitar in Bat Boy The Musical, percussion for Into The Woods, Anton in Three Sisters, Cohen inThe Underpants, and Mr. Scott inMenk Hayeren Chenk Keeder performed in Armenian aboard the Armenian Heritage Cruise*.* Raffi also does voice over work for Link TV’s program,Mosaic: World News from the Middle East.
Leah Hermanis thrilled to be working with Golden Thread and this group of good people. She has performed, trained, taught, been cast, rejected and waited in LONG cattle calls in (mostly) NY and the Bay Area. Credits include classical and contemporary theater, lots of original works, improv, film, developmental readings, voice-over and a little television. Swell local work includes productions and readings at Magic, Aurora, City Lights and Playwrights Foundation. Leah spent the winter gloriously working with Richard Foreman and teaching a couple of master classes in NY. Thank you to Greg, Mum, Sasha, Pie and Matthew, and to you, the audience, for spending time with us today.
Mary K. Gabrysiak
Production Stage Manager
Mary K. Gabrysiak
Mary K. Gabrysiak (Production Stage Manager) is proud to be apart of Golden Thread’s ReOrient Festival 2009. Mary has worked in theater for over 20 years in Wisconsin, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Some of her favorite productions include Harvey, My Fair Lady, Antigone, Grease, Punch and Judy, Burn This, House of Blue Leaves, and Machinal. Mary would like to thank the cast and crew for their dedication and hard work in putting together a great work of art. She dedicates this festival to her family and friend who support all of her crazy ideas! Samia Abou-Samra.
Afif Houssain (Actor) is a Palestinian, born in 1954. Afif was a high school teacher in Shefa-Amer, his home town in the Galilee, where he taught history of the Middle East for six years until the late- 1980’s, when he moved to the United States. He has been attracted to theater since the early stages of his life, and was cast for rolls in a few local plays during his youth. In the U.S., he took several drama classes. These classes include a story-telling class and a playwriting class. Besides his passion for theater, he also enjoys writing.
Vida Ghahremani began acting in film as a teenager in Iran where she established the standards of stardom. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Vida continued her career in the US appearing in plays by Pari Saberi and Masoud Assadolahi, and films such as Guests of Hotel Astoria and most recently, One Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Wayne Wang. Vida has been an Artistic Associate of Golden Thread Productions since its founding. She performed in Abaga in 2001 and Nine Armenians in 2002. Vida is an active member of Golden Thread’s Fairytale Players and currently leads Creative Drama classes at Golestan School in Berkeley as part of Golden Thread’s Education Program.
Nora El Samahy
Nora El Samahy
Nora el Samahy* (Actor) This is Nora’s second production with Golden Thread after Ecstasy | a waterfable last summer. Since living in the Bay Area she has worked with: Aurora Theatre, Magic Theatre, foolsFURY, Traveling Jewish Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Exit Theater, Theatre Rhinoceros, Woman’s Will, Shotgun Players, African American Shakespeare Company, and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Nora is a certified Pilates instructor and co-owner of Studio 74 Pilates with business partner Jennifer Moulton. Love and respect to family, friends, and Patrick.
Micheal Sommers Mike is excited to be a Golden Thread first timer! He has recently appeared as Uncle Buzzy in his creation Uncle Buzzy’s Hometown Theater Show!!, Tell It Slant at The Pear, For All the Babies Father’s at the Brava! And in over forty films and TV shows like Stitch In Time, The Evidence, Haiku Tunnel, Revenge of the Wee, Bandits and Nash Bridges! Come see Community Supported AgriComedy- Uncle Buzzy at the Velo Rouge Café this December! It’s sort of a local cross between Mad TV and Flight of the Conchords with live music and comedy! (www.unclebuzzy. com) (www.michaelsommers.com)
Ahou Tabibzadeh (Actor) has a B.F.A in Theater (Acting) from the University of Utah. She is very excited to be returning to Golden Thread in ReOrient 2009 as Soledad in Compression of a Casualty and in reprising the role of Ziba in Call Me Mehdi. Ahou would like to dedicate her performances to the current human rights and democracy movement inside of Iran to those who have fallen and to those who continue to stand relentlessly, defiantly and heroically against tremendous oppression and censorship for their inalienable personal and political freedoms.
Watch video from the production:
San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The Puffin Foundation.
Community Partners: UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of San Francisco Performance and Social Justice Program, Jewish Community Foundation, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Theatre Bay Area, Theatre Communications Group, Omid Foundation, KPFA Radio, The San Francisco Bay Guardian.