The First Ten Years!

ReOrient 2009

by Yussef El Guindi, Motti Lerner, Betty Shamieh, Naomi Wallace, Torange Yeghiazarian, Caveh Zahedi

Festival of Short Plays Exploring the Middle East

ReOrient 2009

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

Thick House

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.

ReOrient 2009 In The Press

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.

→ Read the full article by Randy Gener

ReOrient Forum Special Events

Book Launch

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.

→ Purchase your copy today!

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.

Art Exhibit

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.

→ More about Zeina Barakeh

Music Concert

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.

→ More about Aswat Ensemble

Dance Performance

Ballet Afsaneh

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.

→ More about Ballet Afsaneh

ReOrient Forum 2009

December 5 & 6, 2009

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.


World Premiere

No Such Cold Thing

by Naomi Wallace

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.


by Betty Shamieh

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

Coming Home

by Motti Lerner

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.

Call Me Mehdi

by Torange Yeghiazarian

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.

I’m Not a Serial Killer

by Caveh Zahedi

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).


by Torange Yeghiazarian

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.

A Marriage Proposal

by Yussef El Guindi

Chekov’s classic comedy of class conflict and lemons adapted to an Egyptian family setting.

Compression of a Casualty

by Kevin Doyle

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.

The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue

by Yussef El Guindi

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?

Cast & Crew

Torange Yeghiazarian

Playwright & Director

→ Bio

Arlene Hood


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Hafiz Karmali


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Mark Routhier


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Bella Ramazan-Nia


→ Bio

M. Graham Smith


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Basel Al-Naffouri


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Suraya Susana Keating


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Dina Mousawi


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George Psarras


→ Bio

Sara Razavi


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Raffi Wartanina


→ Bio

Leah Herman


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Mary K. Gabrysiak

Production Stage Manager

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Afif Houssain


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Vida Ghahremani


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Nora El Samahy


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Micheal Sommers


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Ahou Tabibzadeh


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ReOrient Festival Production photos by Gohar Barseghyan

The Review by Yussef El Guindi premiered at ReOrient Forum

Watch video from the production:

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We are grateful for the support of the following institutions:

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.

Golden Thread Productions

1695 18th Street, #C101
San Francisco, CA 94107
The ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone

Phone: 415.626.4061


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