Seven short plays. One unforgettable evening.

ReOrient 2019

by Yussef El Guindi, Rendah Heywood, Lameece Issaq, Mustafa Kaymak, Betty Shamieh, Niku Sharei, and Naomi Wallace

Think you know the Middle East? Think again!

ReOrient 2019

ReOrient 2019 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of this innovative and spirited festival of short plays from or about the Middle East. The line-up includes playwrights with longtime association with Golden Thread: Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi, Bay Area-based Palestinian-American playwright Betty Shamieh, and MacArthur Fellow and celebrated playwright Naomi Wallace. Joining these writers are four newcomers to the festival: Iraqi-British writer and actor Rendah Heywood, Noor Theatre Founding Artistic Director Lameece Issaq, Turkish-Kurdish writer and filmmaker Mustafa Kaymak, and local Iranian-American writer Niku Sharei. Selected from 108 submissions from 13 countries, the seven short plays are diverse in content and style, highlighting the multiplicity of Middle Eastern perspectives and identities.

“Humanity is at the core of ReOrient. If theatre is community, it starts here. If the goal of theatre is to expand our viewpoint, to enrich our knowledge, and to embrace empathy, then ReOrient hugely succeeds.” —Stark Insider

October 18, 2019 - November 17, 2019

Potrero Stage

1695 18th Street, San Francisco

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Written by Yussef El Guindi, Rendah Heywood, Lameece Issaq, Mustafa Kaymak, Betty Shamieh, Niku Sharei, and Naomi Wallace

Directed by Michael French, Rebecca Novick, Lisa Marie Rollins, and Torange Yeghiazarian

Featuring Sofia Ahmad*, Atosa Babaoff*, Ali-Moosa Mirza, Lawrence Radecker*, Amitis Rossoukh

Design Team: Kate Boyd (scenic), Dylan Feldman (lighting), James Ard (sound), Brooke Jennings (costumes), Grisel Torres (props)

Dramaturgy by Nakissa Etemad (lead dramaturg), Emily DeDakis, Laura Espino, Scott Horstein, Michael Malek Najjar

Production Team: Grisel Torres, Tyler Miller, Karen Runk*, Caitlin McFann

30% off General Admission tickets for groups of 10 or more!
Contact boxoffice@goldenthread.org to place your order.

This year’s ReOrient Festival marks our second 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 Metro Bay Area and Festival Lead Dramaturg Nakissa Etemad, LMDA is providing a team of Dramaturgs to aid the playwrights in script development, provide contextual information, and write feature articles that peek behind-the-scenes of ReOrient. In addition to Golden Thread resident artist Nakissa Etemad, this year’s Dramaturgy Team includes Emily DeDakis, Laura Espino, Scott Horstein, and Michael Malek Najjar.

Dramaturgs Dive Deep in ReOrient 2019

A Homecoming for Golden Thread Alumni

This year’s festival cements Golden Thread Productions’ longtime working relationships with Yussef El Guindi, Betty Shamieh, and Naomi Wallace.

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Brave New Voices in ReOrient 2019

Meet four writers who are brand-new to the festival, all clearly at home in ReOrient, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

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Weaving the Golden Thread at ReOrient 2019 Camp

The twentieth anniversary of the ReOrient Festival of Short Plays began with an incubation weekend that Golden Thread calls “ReOrient Camp.”

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Middle Eastern and North African American Theatre Artists Convening

November 9 & 10, 2019

MENA & Muslim Artists Affinity Work Sessions

Golden Thread Productions is thrilled to host a gathering of Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim theatre artists during the ReOrient Festival. Building on years of community organizing, our partnership with Silk Road Rising (Chicago) and The Lark (New York), and new alliances with Art2Action (Tampa), Noor Theater (New York), and Boom Arts (Portland), we will show up to meet each other, network, and strategize on how to increase our community’s visibility, amplify our voices, and deepen the impact of our work.

Registration is free, but advanced registration is strongly encouraged to secure your space. Walk-up registration will be available on site, space permitting. Also, Golden Thread has secured a limited number of discounted hotel rooms during the Convening. Click here for more info and reservation links. This offer expires October 13.

For more information and a full schedule, click here.

For hotel discounts during the convening, click here.

→ Registration Info


Brass Knuckles

by Yussef El Guindi, directed by Torange Yeghiazarian

A Muslim woman must give herself a pep talk before leaving the house wearing her weapon. Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi paints a surprising portrait of the strength it takes to be yourself every day.

Yussef El Guindi’s recent productions include Hostages at Radial Theater Project; The Talented Ones at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland (Santa Barbara Independent Indy Award); Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat at Golden Thread Productions (American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award); and Threesome at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (Portland Drammy for Best Original Script). Bloomsbury will publish Selected Works by Yussef El Guindi in January 2019. He is a 2018 Core Company playwright member at ACT in Seattle and a Resident Artist at Golden Thread Productions.

The Grievance Club

by Rendah Heywood, directed by Lisa Marie Rollins

A successful banker joins a secret society to feed her most unconventional desires. Will the enterprise be more than she bargained for? Iraqi-British actor/playwright Rendah Heywood proposes a vision of female rage in our current times.

Rendah Heywood is an actor and a new playwright. In the U.S., she has performed in Refugia at The Guthrie Theater, King Lear at BAM, This Time at The Sheen Center, and in Cuddles for Brits Off-Broadway at 59E59. She has recently participated in workshops for The Atlantic Theater, Noor Theatre, and The Lark. On TV, Rendah has appeared in Doctors, EastEnders, and Holby City for the BBC. The Grievance Club is her first playwriting endeavor, and was selected to be part of last year’s Samuel French OOB Festival of Short Plays in New York City.

Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts

by Lameece Issaq, directed by Rebecca Novick

Two Syrian children are alone in the rubble of a war zone. Can Harry Potter save them? Noor Theatre Artistic Director Lameece Issaq’s touching new play finds unexpected hope in the darkest of situations.

Lameece Issaq is an actor and writer, and the Founding Artistic Director of the Obie Award-winning company Noor Theatre, dedicated to the work of theater artists of Middle Eastern descent. Writing credits include Noor & Hadi Go to Hogwarts (Theater Breaking Through Barriers); Nooha’s List (Hartford Stage, The Geffen, and Primary Stages); and Food and Fadwa (Noor Theatre and NYTW co-production, Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award); and the film Abe, co-written with Jacob Kader and starring Stranger Things actor Noah Schnapp (post-production). Acting credits include Food and Fadwa and The Black Eyed (NYTW); The Fever Chart and Stuff Happens (Public Theater). Lameece is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. 2016 NYFA Finalist in Playwriting/Screenwriting.

The Basement

by Mustafa Kaymak, directed by Michael French

In a police station in southeastern Turkey, Kurdish journalist Ayca is interviewing a lieutenant about the disappearance of activists. Very quickly, tables turn and the interviewer becomes the interviewee. Turkish-Kurdish writer and filmmaker Mustafa Kaymak’s new film Green won the 2019 Sundance Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction.

Mustafa Kaymak was born in Ankara, Turkey. He is a producer, playwright, and screenwriter who received his B.A. in Journalism from Ankara University, Turkey. He holds two M.F.A. degrees from Columbia University — one in Playwriting and another in Creative Film Producing. His short movie Green has appeared in San Diego International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Galway International Film Festival, and NBC Universal Short Film Festival. Recently, he was awarded a Caucus Foundation Award and an Annenberg Foundation Award.

An Echo of Laughter

by Betty Shamieh, directed by Michael French

A Palestinian teacher is in trouble for teaching The Diary of Anne Frank to her pupils. You would never believe who’s laughing at her from the shadows. Bay Area-based Palestinian-American writer Betty Shamieh returns for her third ReOrient.

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

In Spenglic

by Niku Sharei, directed by Lisa Marie Rollins

In the not-so-distant future, new immigrant Meetoo must assimilate in her new home nation of Spenglia. What is she willing to give up to hold on to her healthcare? Bay Area’s own Iranian-American writer Niku Sharei’s absurd sci-fi fantasy hits very close to home.

Niku Sharei has intermittently interned and worked for Golden Thread since 2011. She is delighted to collaborate with Golden Thread as a playwright. She attended writing classes at College of Marin and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Niku was the script supervisor for Go On Then, second place winner of 48 Hour Film Project. She wrote and directed In Spenglic and Fury of Teuton for Short+Sweet Festival. She also performed as a stand-up comic in the UAE. Her poem Boxes Into Circles was published in Dubai Poetics. Niku is a UC Berkeley alumna and is pursuing her MSc in Sociology at The University of Manchester.

The Book of Mima

by Naomi Wallace, directed by Rebecca Novick

The view is exceptionally breathtaking up in the Yemeni sky as a “bird” approaches Mima reading her storybook. MacArthur Fellow Naomi Wallace returns to ReOrient with this poetic and incisive play.

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.


Hassan Abdulrazzak

The Tune is Always Better on the Other Side

Hannah Khalil

The Yellow Coat

William Mohammad Razavi

Wenceslaus Square

Adam Ashraf El-Sayigh

The Bug

Nabra Nelson

Induced Labor

Edessa Tailo


National Convening of MENA Theatre Artists

Audience Engagement

Watch video from the production:

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Thanks to our generous sponsors of ReOrient 2019

California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley, University of San Francisco Performance & Social Justice Program, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, May Allam, and Artin Der Minassians.

The selection committee for ReOrient 2019 included Nora el Samahy  (Actor), Rebecca Novick (Director), Handan Ozbilgin (Associate Artistic Director, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center), and Roberto Gutierrez Varea (Professor, University of San Francisco, Performing Arts and Social Justice Program). Golden Thread Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, Director of New Plays Evren Odcikin, and Literary Associate Hala Baki were also part of the committee.

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Phone: 415.626.4061


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