Seven short plays. One unforgettable evening of theatre.

ReOrient 2017

by Melis Aker, E.H. Benedict, Sevan K. Greene, Hannah Khalil, Junichi P. Semitsu, Betty Shamieh, and Torange Yeghiazarian

Think you know the Middle East? Think again.

ReOrient 2017

ReOrient 2017 will turn San Francisco into a mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from or about the Middle East. Nowhere else will you find plays and artists from Armenia, India, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S. all on one stage.

Selected through a competitive, international submission process, this year’s playwrights include Bay Area writers: Betty Shamieh, E.H. Benedict, and Torange Yeghiazarian. Audience favorite of ReOrient 2015, Palestinian-Irish playwright Hannah Khalil returns this year. Turkish-American writer/performer Melis Aker andArmenian-American playwright Sevan K. Greene are the newcomers to the ReOrient family. Acclaimed Japanese-American poet Junichi P. Semitsu, whose poem Shelter will be adapted as a sound installation by Torange Yeghiazarian completes the line-up. The winning short plays are diverse in content and style, highlighting the multiplicity of Middle Eastern perspectives and identities.

November 18, 2017 - December 11, 2017

Potrero Stage

1695 18th Street, San Francisco

Written by Melis Aker, E.H. Benedict, Sevan K. Greene, Hannah Khalil, Junichi P. Semitsu, Betty Shamieh, and Torange Yeghiazarian

Directed by Erin Gilley, Susannah Martin, Evren Odcikin, Sara Razavi, and Torange Yeghiazarian

Featuring Atosa Babaoff*, Naseem Etemad*, Mohamed Chakmakchi, Stephen Kanaski, Lawrence Radecker*, Jessica Lea Risco, Bella Warda

Dramaturgy by Nakissa Etemad, Anna Woodruff, Emily DeDakis, Maddie Gaw, and Vidhu Singh

Design team: James Ard, Kenan Arun, Cassie Barnes, Kate Boyd, Beckett Finn, Erin Gilley, Brooke Jennings, Grisel Torres

Stage Management: Karen Runk*, Benjamin Shiu, Apollonia and Keith Arcuragi

CONTENT ADVISORY: Some plays contain strong language, sexual violence, and disturbing imagery.

RUNNING TIME: 2 hours including one 15-minute intermission

This year’s ReOrient Festival marks our first collaboration with the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). The partnership brings together two organizations that value challenging cultural preconceptions through provocative programming and dialogue. Curated by LMDA’s Regional VP of Metro Bay Area Nakissa Etemad, LMDA is providing a team of production dramaturgs to collaborate on the plays in script development and research, and publications dramaturgs to write feature articles that take you behind-the-scenes of ReOrient, which you will be able to read here.

Golden Thread Productions and LMDA Partnership

Are You Ready to ReOrient

Publications Dramaturg Vidhu Singh takes you behind-the scenes of ReOrient and highlights the importance of Golden Thread in the American theatre.

Being in the Room: Transatlantic Collaborations in ReOrient 2017

Publications Dramaturg Emily DeDakis interviews Sevan K. Greene and Hannah Khalil to discuss their plays, playwriting careers in the U.K., and past experiences with Golden Thread.

Playwright and Dramaturg Tackle Manar a Third Time

ReOrient Dramaturg Anna Woodruff speaks with her longtime collaborator and Playwright Melis Aker about their working relationship, the evolution of Manar, and their experience with Golden Thread.

Women’s Voices Naturally Rise to the Top at Golden Thread

Publications Dramaturg Maddie Gaw interviews playwrights Betty Shamieh, E.H. Benedict, and Torange Yeghiazarian to discuss their writing careers as women and in the Bay Area, and experiences with Golden Thread.

ReOrient Festival in the Press

Everyone is Welcome to ReOrient Themselves

Jeffrey Edelatpour of SF Weekly reviews ReOrient 2017: “An artful victory against casual prejudice, mistrust, and tragic headlines.”

→ Read More

ReOrienting One’s Thoughts on Immigration

George Heymont of The Huffington Post reviews ReOrient 2017: “A rare accomplishment. . . all seven [plays] were superbly written powerhouse dramas — the kind of work any audience would be thrilled to experience.”

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ReOrient fest in SF serves up varied view of Middle East

ReOrient 2017 is a critic’s pick for Sam Hurwitt of The Mercury News.

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Voices of the Middle East and North Africa

Festival Producer Evren Odcikin is interviewed by Malihe Razazan for KPFA program.

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Theater events for the holidays

ReOrient 2017 is a Holiday Pick for San Francisco Chronicle

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ReOrient 2017 Forum Panels

Centering the Margins: Immigrant Voices and Brown Bodies Claiming the Narrative

Sat, Nov 25, 4-6pm | Potrero Stage (1695 18th Street, San Francisco)
For years — some might say centuries — America’s narratives have focused on the experience of white bodies as told through the eyes of the colonizer, framing the place of brown bodies in the process. What happens when we reorient our perspective? How do we shift the reference point away from a white narrative? How do we negotiate differences of experience and perspective within marginalized communities? Whose stories are told on American stages and from what lens? (Presented in association with USF)
Chair and Moderator: Roberto Gutiérrez Varea
Panelists: Eugenie Chan, Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, Philip Kan Gotanda, Lauren Spencer, Eric Ting, and Torange Yeghiazarian
Free and open to the public

→ RSVP Now

Dramaturgs ReOrient: Contextualizing the Middle East for American Audiences

Sat, Dec 2, 4-6pm | Potrero Stage (1695 18th Street, San Francisco)
What is it like to stage a Middle Eastern story in today’s climate? How do dramaturgs provide truthful context, provoke meaningful conversation, help collaborators make choices with integrity, and ensure cultural competency? Can dramaturgy affect the way we perceive and communicate about the Middle East? Does dramaturgy change our perspectives?
Meet Bay Area dramaturgs, directors, and ReOrient artists who take us behind-the-scenes of their processes to share and discuss personal experiences with Middle Eastern playwrights and plays, both inside and beyond the first-time partnership between Golden Thread and LMDA. Master dramaturg and director Jayne Wenger will lead us in a roundtable discussion that helps us forge ahead toward the growth and prosperity of Middle Eastern American theatre. (Presented in association with LMDA)
Chair: Nakissa Etemad | Moderator: Jayne Wenger
Panelists: Maddie Gaw and Vidhu Singh
Free and open to the public

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War on Terror

by E.H. Benedict, directed by Sara Razavi

Air travel is no picnic, especially if your non-English speaking Arab mother is fed up and tired.

E.H. Benedict (Playwright, War on Terror) is honored to be included in the ReOrient Festival, where her play Orhan was produced in 2012. Her plays have been developed locally and at the Lark (NYC). American Royals and Rashomon in Kansas were semifinalists for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference. Her short play Gloria Steinem & Lotte Lenya & Scout Are Waiting won best in festival at the WCPA in Westcliffe, CO. She is a 2016 TBA TITAN Award recipient and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

A is for Ali

by Sevan K. Greene, directed by Sara Razavi

An Arab-American couple must choose a name for their unborn child. How tough can it be?

Sevan K. Greene (Playwright, A is for Ali) is an award-winning playwright and actor based in London and NYC. Sevan’s work has been seen at The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, The Flea Theater, The Sheen Center, The Bush Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Theatre503, Rich Mix, and The Old Red Lion. He is a member of The Bush Theatre inaugural 2015 Emerging Writers Group, The Public Theater 2011 Emerging Writers Group, NYTW Usual Suspects, and the Rising Circle Theatre Collective 2010 InkTANK Lab. sevangreene.com


by Melis Aker, directed by Erin Gilley, dramaturged by Anna Woodruff

An American mother is convinced she recognizes her missing son in an ISIS video.

Melis Aker (Playwright, Manar) is an actor, playwright, and musician from Turkey. Plays include Manar (LaMaMa, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Rough Draft Festival) and 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter (Part I) (Noor Theatre’s Highlight Series). Her Untitled Coup D’etat Play will receive a run at the Signature in 2018. She is writing the book for Tatiana Pandiani’s Ruben Dario Project as part of the NYTW 2050 Fellowship. M.F.A. in Playwriting, Columbia University. melisaker.com

Make No Mistake

by Betty Shamieh, directed by Susannah Martin, dramaturged by Nakissa Etemad

What do Osama Bin Ladin’s young wife and an American president’s mistress have in common?

Betty Shamieh (Playwright, Make No Mistake) is the author of fifteen plays. Credits include The Strangest (The Semitic Root), Fit for the Queen (Classical Theatre of Harlem), The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop, Magic Theatre), Territories (Magic Theatre), and Roar (The New Group). She was a Clifton Visiting Artist at Harvard College, a Playwriting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue, and a Guggenheim Fellow in Drama and Performance Art. M.F.A., Yale School of Drama. bettyshamieh.com.

The Rehearsal

by Hannah Khalil, directed by Evren Odcikin

Three actors must find a way to rehearse a political play under the watchful eye of the censors.

Hannah Khalil’s (Playwright, The Rehearsal) stage plays include The Scar Test (Soho Theatre, London; “Political Theatre at its best” —Exeunt); Scenes from 68* Years (Arcola Theatre, London; shortlisted for James Tait Black Award; “Confirms Khalil as a dramatist of compelling potential” —Daily Telegraph); Bitterenders (Golden Thread’s ReOrient 2015 Festival; winner of Sandpit Arts’ Bulbul 2013); Plan D (Tristan Bates Theatre; nominee, Meyer Whitworth Award); and Ring (winner, Soho Theatre London’s Westminster Prize). Radio plays include Last of the Pearl Fishers and The Deportation Room for BBC Radio 4.


poetry by Junichi P. Semitsu, stage soundscape adapted by Torange Yeghiazarian and James Ard

An audio love poem from Hiroshima to Beirut to one mixed-race couple’s intertwined destinies.

Thanksgiving at Khodabakhshian’s

by Torange Yeghiazarian, directed by Susannah Martin, dramaturged by Nakissa Etemad

A leftie Iranian-American and a Trump supporter find themselves together at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Torange Yeghiazarian (Founding Artistic Director; Playwright, Thanks- giving; Adapter, Shelter) founded Golden Thread in 1996, where she has directed Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat and 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. She is also a playwright, whose plays include Isfahan Blues (Gerbode-Hewlett Playwright Commission Award), 444 Days, The Fifth String: Ziryab’s Passage to Cordoba (ICCNC commission), and Call Me Mehdi (published in the TCG anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama”). Her articles have been published in The Drama Review, American Theatre Magazine, and

Theatre Bay Area Magazine. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, she holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from SFSU. She is one of the TCG Legacy Leaders of Color. She has received honors from the Cairo International Theatre Festival, the Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry, and Theatre Bay Area.


Hassan Abdulrazzak

Harut Akopyan

Mudar Alhaggi

Leila Buck

Shay Goldstein

Atar Hadari

Uday Jhunjhunwala

Mustafa Kaymak

Daria Polatin

Lilly Thomassian

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The selection committee for ReOrient 2017:

The selection committee for ReOrient 2017 included luminaries Catherine Coray (Theatre Program Head, NYU Abu Dhabi & Director, US-Middle East Playwright Exchange at the Lark Play Development Center), Philip Kan Gotanda (Award-winning playwright & Professor, UC Berkeley Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies), Roberta Levitow (Co-founder, Theatre Without Borders & Senior Program Associate, Middle East North Africa Sundance Institute Theatre Program), Roberto Gutierrez Varea (Professor, University of San Francisco, Performing Arts and Social Justice Program). Golden Thread Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian and Director of New Plays and Marketing Evren Odcikin were also part of the committee.

Watch video from the production:

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We are grateful for the support of the following institutions:

Thanks to San Francisco Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Fleischhacker Foundation, University of San Francisco, The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas for their generous support of ReOrient 2017.

Golden Thread Productions

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San Francisco, CA 94107
The ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone

Phone: 415.626.4061


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