by Katrin Arefy, Adam Ashraf Elsayigh, Yussef El Guindi, Arti Ishak, Hamed Sinno, Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau
ReOrient 2023 celebrates the return of our signature program, an innovative and spirited festival of short plays from or about the Middle East. The dizzying line-up is diverse in content and style, with 6 plays selected from 113 submissions, highlighting a multiplicity of Middle Eastern perspectives and identities. Think you know the Middle East? Think again!
“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 13, 2023 - November 4, 2023
1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Written by Katrin Arefy, Adam Ashraf Elsayigh, Yussef El Guindi, Arti Ishak, Hamed Sinno, Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau
Directed by Sahar Assaf, Amal Bisharat, Susannah Martin, Adin Walker, Becca Wolff
Featuring Sofia Ahmad, Hamzeh Daoud, John Fisher, Neamah Hussein, Emily M. Keyishian, Rose McAvoy, AeJay Marquis Mitchell, John Pasha, Arielle Tonkin
Design Team: Carlos Aceves (Scenic), Maxwell Bowman (Lighting), Bahar Royaee (Sound), Briana Lisette Cardenas (Costume), Vincent Chau (Props)
Dramaturgy by Nakissa Etemad, Marina Johnson, Vidhu Singh, Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh
Publicity Photography by Amal Bisharat; Production Photography by David Allen and by Amal Bisharat
Six short plays, presented as one evening of theatre. Run time: 2h 15m, plus intermission
For content advisories and additional information visit our content guide.
Ahmed is waiting in an immigration line as his thoughts race, skid, and trip him up as he anticipates the things that might be asked, the papers he’ll have to show, and the personal information he might have to share. It is not a pretty stream of consciousness.
Two former Arabic school rivals meet 20 years later when an unexpected reveal changes the nature of their reunion.
Lebanese Gen-Z Partyboi Sam is in trouble with his tamer, older, White boyfriend Joel. But it’s really not his fault Joel went snooping, finding Sam’s FUCK FORM, with all the raunchy descriptions of his recent hookups. So here they are at ODYSSEY, San Francisco’s hottest, new Couple Therapy practice. Will Sam and Joel manage to fix this hot mess with the assistance of their overwhelmed but well-meaning counselor, Sharon… or is this all doomed for failure?
Discovering a pile of dead bodies in the middle of their office, work colleagues seem nonchalant to the carnage and instead become embroiled in petty arguments. Their repetitive discussions and responses are predetermined and non-negotiable.
A young woman recounts sailing to America during the Armenian Genocide to marry a strange man on Ellis Island.
In a farce of a play within a play within a play, fractals of a writer’s identity battle over controlling the narrative. When they start eliminating each other, it becomes unclear who is writing whom.
This year’s ReOrient Festival marks our third 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, and is curated by LMDA’s Regional VP Metro Bay Area and Festival Lead Dramaturg Nakissa Etemad. The ReOrient Dramaturgy Team consists of a team of professional dramaturgs who bring their expertise in new play development, research, contextualization, and theatre writing. This year’s partnership augments the team to include a Publications Dramaturg to join the ReOrient Camp & Festival and write a feature article on ReOrient artists and the creative process that brings audiences behind-the-scenes (see link below, or read it at lmda.org). Be sure to check out the Dramaturgs’ program notes and playwright messages curated by the team in the Festival Program!
In addition to Golden Thread resident artist Nakissa Etemad, the ReOrient 2023 Dramaturgy Team includes Marina Johnson, Vidhu Singh, and Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh. We look forward to ongoing partnerships between our two organizations and collaborations between dramaturgs and Middle Eastern theatre artists for generations to come.
MIDDLE EASTERN NORTH AFRICAN THEATER MAKERS ALLIANCE 2023 FALL CONVENING
As part of our ReOrient Festival and Forum, Golden Thread hosts the 4th annual national convening of the Middle Eastern North African Theater Makers Alliance (MENATMA) co-produced with Art2Action, Inc.
MENATMA amplifies the voices of Middle Eastern and North African theater makers and expands how stories from and about our communities are told on U.S. stages. The 2023 Annual Convening brings together SWANA artists, activists, and scholars from around the country for panel and roundtable discussions, workshops, artistic presentations, networking opportunities, and more. This year’s convening is co-sponsored by Silk Road Rising, Noor Theatre, New Arab American Theatre Works, Diaspora Arts Connection, and Theatre Communications Group THRIVE! Program. The Convening is made possible in part by generous support from the Ford Foundation.
Registration is free; advanced registration is required.
For more information, click here.
playwright, A Massacre
Katrin Arefy (she/her) is an essayist and playwright who examines the many absurd realities that we experience in our daily lives in her writing. Her essays and playscripts have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including North Dakota Quarterly, Water~Stone Review, Fleas on the Dog, Free State Review, and Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, The Tusculum Review and Some Scripts Literary Magazine. Her plays have premiered in New York City, performed in California, reached the semi finalist round at Ivoryton Playhouse’s inaugural Women Playwright’s Initiative, selected for inclusion at the Iranian Drama Festival in Heidelberg, Germany, and Funny Shorts in Florida. Her latest theatre work, The Portrait of an Angel, a Lion, a Monster was premiered in Manhattan, NY in January 2022 The play was well received by the audience and NY critics in a review on The Theatre Times. You may see samples of Katrin Arfey’s plays at New Play Exchange or on her website. www.katrinarefy.com
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
playwright, Data Queen
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh (he/him) is an Egyptian writer, theatermaker, and dramaturg who writes and develops plays that interrogate the intersections of queerness, immigration, and colonialism. Adam’s plays (including Drowning in Cairo, Revelation, Memorial, and Jamestown/ Williamsburg) have been developed and seen at New York Theater Workshop, The Lark, The Tisch School of the Arts, The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and Golden Thread Productions. Adam is a fellow at Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and an Alliance/Kendeda Award Finalist. He holds a BA in Theater, Playwriting and Dramaturgy from NYU Abu Dhabi and an MFA in Playwriting at Brooklyn College.
Yussef El Guindi
playwright, Stamp Me
Yussef El Guindi
Born in Egypt, raised in London and now based in Seattle, Yussef El Guindi (he/his)’s work frequently examines the collision of ethnicities, cultures and politics that face Arab/ Middle Eastern Americans and Muslim Americans. His productions include Hotter Than Egypt at Marin Theatre Company and ACT in Seattle; People of the Book at ACT; The Talented Ones at ART in Portland; and Threesome at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (NY). Bloomsbury/ Methuen Drama recently published The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi, and Broadway Play Publishing Inc. published a collection of short pieces entitled In A Clear Concise Arabic Tongue. He is the recipient of several honors, including the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, American Blues Theater’s Blue Ink Playwriting Award, L.A. Weekly’s Excellence in Playwriting Award, and the Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award.
Arti Ishak (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist recently named a 3Arts Make A Wave Artist. Their selected play Closure originally premiered as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series in collaboration with Muslim Writer’s Collective Chicago. Acting credits include The Best Decision You Ever Made (The Second City); KISS (Haven); Venus in Fur (Circle); Witch (Writers); Buried Child (Writers); Men on Boats (American Theater Company); Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno (The Second City). TV credits: Dark Matter (Apple TV), Southside (HBO), Chicago Med (NBC). Directing credits include short films Shukran Bas (Means of Productions), Ba La (HF Productions), and theatrical debut with the Chicago premiere of Hatefuck (First Floor Theatre) in 2023. They are an instructor at Black Box Acting and on staff with The Chicago Inclusion Project. Arti is a founding organizer with SWANASA Central, a collective of artists and organizers dedicated to representing, amplifying, and advocating for the South West Asian, North African and South Asian artist communities. They are proudly represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.
playwright, The Suicide Bomber
Hamed Sinno (they/she/he) is a writer, composer, performer, and snowflake social justice warrior. Their current research uses performance to explore the vocal organ and digital vocality as sites of political negotiation. H writes and lectures about popular culture as engaged practice. They have been the lyricist and front-person for Mashrou’ Leila since 2008. H has a BFA from the Department of Architecture and Design at the American University of Beirut, and an MA in Digital Musics from Dartmouth College. Their debut opera Westerly Breath is in development at The Industry Los Angeles, and opens at the New York Met Museum in September 2023.
Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau
playwright, Picture Bride
Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau
Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau (she/her) is a New England based Armenian-American playwright. Her full-length plays include Women of Ararat (surviving the Armenian Genocide), produced at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Boston, American University in Armenia, and the Wellesley College new play series in 2015. Her play Rockabye (redefining family for the 21st century) was produced at the MCA in 2017. Both The Stringed Muse (an O’Neill Center finalist), and Olly Olly Oxen Free (focus on reclaiming one’s treasures and identity post Holocaust); and Metronome (navigating the life of an autistic child) are her more recent plays. Judith’s numerous short plays have premiered at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, Firehouse Center for the Arts, Femuscripts Florida, The Actors Studio of Newburyport, and Golden Thread Productions ReOrient 2023. Aside from her work as a playwright, Judith is a classical musician having sung professionally in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. She is a former marketing/fundraising specialist for Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the American Symphony Orchestra, Circle in the Square Theatre, Olympia Dukakis’ former Whole Theatre in New Jersey, and the New England Conservatory of Music. When not writing, Judith currently teaches piano and voice.
director, Stamp Me & A Massacre
Sahar Assaf (she/her) is Golden Thread’s Executive Artistic Director. She is a Lebanese stage actor, director, translator, and producer. Before joining Golden Thread, Sahar taught theatre at the American University of Beirut where she co-founded the AUB Theater Initiative with playwright and English Professor Robert Myers. Her work at the Theater Initiative includes translating and directing Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding in a site-specific promenade performance, co-translating co-directing, and starring in Shakespeare’s King Lear at al-Madina Theater in Beirut, the first production of Shakespeare in Lebanese colloquial, The Rape and Rituals of Signs and Transformations by Sa’dallah Wannous, and Watch Your Step: Beirut Heritage Walking Tour which was a site-specific devised work on the Lebanese civil war. Sahar is a strong advocate of documentary theatre and recently conceived and directed Meen El Felten, an immersive documentary play on sexual assault and No Demand No Supply, a hybrid documentary play about sex trafficking and prostitution. She is a member of Lincoln Center Director’s Lab (2014), co-founder and artistic director of Directors Lab Mediterranean (2019), and a Fulbright alumnus with an MA in Theater Studies from Central Washington University (2011).
director, Picture Bride & A Massacre
Amal Bisharat (she/her) is a Palestinian American multidisciplinary artist: a theatre director, theatremaker, musician, actor, photographer, and yoga teacher. Bisharat holds a BA in Music and Theater and for 12 years worked as a director and music director in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District. She is currently in residence at Golden Thread Productions as co-producer and director for the 2023 ReOrient Festival of Short Plays. She is also currently in the process of creating her first musical, a Palestinian refugee story adapted from the best-selling novel Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. Bisharat is a grateful recipient of the 2022-23 Theater Bay Area Arts Leadership Residency Grant, 2022 Theater Bay Area CA$H Creates Grant, and 2023 San Francisco Arts Commission Artist Grant.
Bisharat is also an award-winning photographer, with her own arts-focused photography company, capturing the magic of professional dance, theater, and music performances for Bay Area groups like Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, Sarah Bush Dance Project, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. Bisharat believes in the transformative power of art and storytelling whether on a stage, in a photograph, or in the stories we tell ourselves.
A director, teacher, and theatre maker of Tunisian heritage, and a Sephardic/Mizrahi Jewish feminist-activist-artist, Susannah Martin (she/her) has taught and directed for organizations throughout the Bay Area including: Shotgun Players (Company Member), American Conservatory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Cutting Ball Theater, Golden Thread Productions, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Mugwumpin (Company Member), Oakland Theater Project, the Playwright’s Foundation, San Francisco Playhouse, and TheatreFirst. Some recent directing credits include: Lisa Ramirez’ Book of Sand (a fairy tale) for Oakland Theater Project; Elaine Magree’s AC/DC for 3Girls Theatre Company; Denmo Ibrahim’s Arab Spring for the Bay Area Playwright’s Festival; Carol S. Lashof’s The Melting Pot for Those Women Productions; Betty Shamieh’s Make No Mistake for both All New People and Golden Thread; Magic Fruit as part of TheatreFirst’s serial season; Sheila Callaghan’s Women Laughing Alone With Salad, David Greig’s The Events, and Christopher Chen’s Caught at Shotgun Players; and the world-premiere of Dipika Guha’s In Braunau for the San Francisco Playhouse. She believes strongly in fostering new voices and developing young storytellers to build and transform our communities.
director, Data Queen
Adin Walker† (he/they) is movement director + associate director for the internationally-touring dance, puppetry, and climate-justice focused Phantom Limb Company, whose production Falling Out about the 2011 tsunami and radiation disaster in Fukushima premiered in BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 2018. Adin recently directed the world premieres of Yilong Liu’s PrEP Play, or Blue Parachute in San Francisco (New Conservatory Theatre Center) and Roger Q. Mason’s The White Dress in New York City, and has choreographed productions of Paula Vogel’s Indecent with Chautauqua Theater Company (dir. Lisa Rothe) and Artists Repertory Theater + Profile Theater (dir. Josh Hecht.) Adin danced principal roles in works by Karole Armitage, Christopher K. Morgan, Alex Neoral, and Maleek Washington and collaborates frequently with writers + composers Esperanza Rosales Balcárcel, Ava Geyer, Lisa Gutkin, Julian Hornik, Khiyon Hursey, Anya Pearson, Mark Sonnenblick, among others. Adin has been a guest artist and lecturer at Yale School of Drama, Princeton, NYU Tisch, and Saint Mary’s College of California, and is currently a PhD Candidate at Stanford in Performance Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. BA: Princeton.
†member, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
director, The Suicide Bomber
Becca Wolff† (she/they) is a California-based director. She explores the intersection of the theatrical and the confessional, collaborating with virtuosic performer/creators to explore deeply personal material in bold new ways. She is very excited for this first collaboration with Golden Thread. She has directed at Long Wharf Theatre, ACT, the Broad Stage, San Francisco Playhouse and Z Space among others. Festivals and residencies include Under the Radar @ the Public Theater, Brown University Arts Institute, Sibiu Festival, Theateworks’ New Works, Summerhall @ Edinburgh International Fringe, New York Stage & Film’s Powerhouse series, and the Getty Villa. She is currently developing a project based on her personal and family histories exploring queer love, Jewish identity and assimilation.
†member, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
Lead Dramaturg, and dramaturg, Stamp Me & The Suicide Bomber
Nakissa Etemad (she/her), Lead Dramaturg, is an Iranian American dramaturg, producer, director, and French translator, specializing in new BIPOC plays and musicals for 30 years. A Resident Artist of Golden Thread, Regional VP Metro Bay Area for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), and the recent Associate Artistic Director of Marin Theatre Company, she is grateful to return for her third ReOrient Festival! Recent credits include Dramaturg & Producer for the world premieres of Justice: A New Musical by Gunderson, Lowdermilk, and Kerrigan (Marin Theatre Co.) and Hotter Than Egypt by Yussef El Guindi (world premiere co-production at Marin Theatre Co. & ACT in Seattle; Dramaturg for second production at Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Previous Golden Thread credits: Lead Dramaturg for ReOrient 2019 & Asst. Director for Lameece Issaq’s Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwart’s and Naomi Wallace’s The Book of Mima; Dramaturg for Zahra Noorbakhsh’s On Behalf of All Muslims: A Comedy Special; Lead Dramaturg for ReOrient 2017 & Dramaturg for Betty Shamieh’s Make No Mistake and Torange Yeghiazarian’s Thanksgiving at Khodabakhshian’s; and Dramaturg and Creative Collaborator for Isfahan Blues by Torange Yeghiazarian, music by Marcus Shelby. Winner of the 2015 Elliott Hayes Award for The Lark’s four-city premieres of the road weeps, the well runs dry by Marcus Gardley.
Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh, Ph.D.
dramaturg, Closure & Picture Bride
Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh, Ph.D.
Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh, Ph.D. (she/her) is a scholar, artist, and educator with two decades of experience as a dancer-choreographer, artistic director, curator, and dramaturg among diasporic MENA/SWANA communities. Since 1997, she has performed in activist street performances, MENA/SWANA cultural events, and full evening dance works on concert stages. Heather earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from UC Berkeley with a Minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, where she completed a dissertation on diasporic Iranian dancers and performance artists. She was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University (2016 – 2018) and a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies at UC Davis (2018 – 2020). Her first book manuscript (in-process), Choreographing the Iranian Diaspora: Dance, Spectatorship, and the Politics of Belonging, was selected for the Dance Studies Association’s 2019 First-time Author Mentorship Program. Heather’s publications include chapters in Futures of Dance Studies (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020) and Performing Iran: Cultural Identity and Theatrical Performance (I.B. Tauris Press, 2021). Since 2021, Heather has been the program manager for Golden Thread’s theatre-for-young-audiences program, Fairytale Players. Previous Golden Thread credits include: dramaturg, The Language of Wild Berries; Forum coordinator, ReOrient 2012. She will begin as an assistant professor of dance at UC Riverside in January 2024.
dramaturg, A Massacre & Data Queen
Marina Johnson (she/they) is a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University, also pursuing Ph.D. minors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She was a 2021-2022 Graduate Public Service Fellow with the Stanford Haas Center and the 2022-2023 co-artistic director of the Nitery Experimental Theatre on Stanford’s Campus. Marina received her MFA in Directing from the University of Iowa. She is the co-host of Kunafa and Shay, a podcast produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons. Johnson is a member of Silk Road Rising’s Polycultural Institute. Prior to beginning her Ph.D., she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Beloit College for three years. Select recent directing credits include: The Shroud Maker (International Voices Project), Shakespeare’s Sisters (Stanford), The Palestinian Youth Monologues (Stanford), Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Beloit College), and In the Next Room (Beloit College). Additionally, she was the dramaturg for Julius Caesar (Stanford, 2022), assistant director and dramaturg on As Soon As Impossible (Stanford, 2021), dramaturg for Two Rooms (Penn State, 2021), and dramaturg and assistant director for Twice, Thrice, Frice (Silk Road Rising, 2019). Her work has been published in MATC’s Theatre/Practice, Eumenica, and in Arab Stages. www.marina-johnson.com
Vidhu Singh, Ph.D.
Publications Dramaturg, & research dramaturg, The Suicide Bomber
Vidhu Singh, Ph.D.
Vidhu Singh, Ph.D. (she/her) is an Expressive Arts Facilitator trained at Northwest Creative & Expressive Arts Institute, Seattle and a Social Emotional Arts Facilitator trained through UCLA’s Arts & Healing Initiative. As a theater artist, Vidhu’s dramaturgy, scholarship and advocacy for South Asian theater have made her contribution to the American theater truly unique. Cal Shakes recognized this uniqueness by honoring Vidhu with the 2020 Luminary Award in dramaturgy. Dramaturgy highlights include ReOrient 2023 with Golden Thread Productions (in-progress), Burning Wild with Aviva Arts at 3GT Innovators Residency 2022 and Berkeley Rep’s 2021 Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab, Third Eye Moonwalk by Jon Bernson with Playwrights Foundation in 2021, and House of Joy by Madhuri Shekar with Cal Shakes in 2019 and Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2018. Vidhu holds a Masters degree in Dramatic Art from UC Santa Barbara and a doctorate in Asian Theatre from UH Manoa. A graduate of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors’ Lab, Vidhu is a core member of Theatre without Borders; a founding member of World Wide Lab; the founder of RasaNova Theater; a wellness facilitator with Bauman Wellness; an ensemble member at Aviva Arts, and a resident artist at Brava Theater.
Sofia Ahmad* (she/her) is a Resident Artist with Golden Thread. Previous Golden Thread productions include: On The Periphery (a Crowded Fire co-production), ReOrient 2019, The Most Dangerous Highway in the World, Isfahan Blues (an African-American Shakespeare Company co-production), and Love Missile. Other local acting credits include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, PlayGround, Word for Word, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Magic Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Those Women Productions, Pacific Repertory Theater, and Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Sofia is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Hamzeh Daoud (they/she) is a Palestinian baddie from Amman, Jordan. They are a transfem and queer creative who arrived in the US by way of education and asylum. Hamzeh’s personal journey has deeply influenced their artistic endeavors, driving their desire to create meaningful and thought-provoking performances that challenge societal norms and foster empathy. With a BA and MA from Stanford University, her educational background has nurtured her understanding of the human condition, and ultimately her artistic craft. Hamzeh has participated in a range of productions, including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest, as well as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Through their performances, they explore diverse characters and narratives, aiming to breathe new life into these timeless stories. They are a singer/songwriter (check out their EP “25” on Spotify), and a pole dancer (which you can enjoy watching on their creative journal instagram @yallahamzeh). In addition to their artistic pursuits, Hamzeh is actively involved in organizing work. They contribute to research and support resource mobilization at Queer Crescent, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to combating anti-Muslim racism and promoting the safety and self-determination of queer and trans Muslims (follow the work they’re involved in @queercrescent). They also (tragically) work in tech. She loves ASMR, dancing, and sipping on some homemade iced lavender latte while listening to fairuzyat on her balcony.
John Fisher* (he/his)’s solo-show A History of World War II enjoyed an eight-month run at The Marsh, after playing two successful runs in Manhattan (United Solo Festival/Theatre Row – Best Actor Award) and another in Los Angeles (The Broadwater.) Awards: Two-time winner of the Will Glickman Playwright Award, GLAAD Media Award, Theatre Bay Area Award, two Cable Car Awards, The Bay Guardian Goldie Award, the BackStage West Garland Award, seven Critics’ Circle Awards. John’s plays include the award-winning Action Hero, Shakespeare Goes to War, To Sleep and Dream, Combat!, and Medea, the Musical. They have been performed in NYC, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Berkeley. As an actor John appeared as Russ/Dan in the Character Physics production of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (nominated Best Performer, Broadway World 2021), Dysart in Equus, Macbeth in Macbeth, Turing in Breaking the Code, Lear in King Lear, among others. He created sixty-two original, live, on-line solo-shows, one for each week of Shelter-in-Place. John won a citation from the 2021 Bay Area Critics’ Circle Awards Committee for this project. In 2021, John took up residency in NYC where he has enjoyed extended runs at Pangea, The Tank, ArtsonSite, the LGBTQ Center, and Theatre Row.
Neamah Hussein (she/her) is a Yemeni-Desi actress, writer and filmmaker based in California. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Computer Science, and studied filmmaking at the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking, as well as TV writing at The Writing Pad in Los Angeles. Her first short, Brown Girls and Hair, screened at the South Asian Film Festival of America 2021. Aside from the art of performing, Neamah is passionate about learning languages (she speaks five!), dance, and her day job on VR tech.
Emily M. Keyishian
Emily M. Keyishian
Emily M. Keyishian (she/her) is a Bay Area actor and artist originally from the NJ/NYC area. She has performed on both coasts in theater and film. In the Bay Area scene she has performed with Town Hall Theater, Custom Made Theater, Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Dragon Theater, Perspective Theatre, Role Players Ensemble, Marin Theater Co and Left Coast Theater. She is thrilled to return to Golden Thread in her second ReOrient with these inspiring people. Check out her film work at emilykeyishian.com and painting/art at devildoll.com ~ Thanks to Ed, Harry & Shane for all of their support.
Rose McAvoy (she/her) premiers in the role of Ani in A Picture Bride. Following camera experience, she is thrilled to expand into theater. Rose studied at Berkeley Repertory School of Theater, as well as at ACT where she’s an alum of the Summer Training Congress program. She feels very grateful to have studied with teachers such as Laura Wayth, Patrick Russell, Chris Herold and Dylan Russell. Bay Area born and raised, Rose grew up dancing, having amazing experience in roles such as Clara in The Nutcracker. She discovered her love of acting in her late teens. Rose enjoys working with children and her long term goal is to bring Psychodrama Therapy healing to young people in need. Rose enjoys meditation, watching cinema and cuddling with her sweet chihuahua Hazel T. Nut. She feels blessed to have found such a loving and inspirational environment of fellow actors and creatives here in the Bay Area.
AeJay Marquis Mitchell*
AeJay Marquis Mitchell*
AeJay Mitchell (they/them) is a multi-hyphenate performance artist, educator, and activist whose work centers the decolonization of the theatrical canon, the black avant-garde, and queer political performance practice. They were most recently witnessed in the critically acclaimed Ni¿¿er Lovers at The Magic Theatre and served as the co-director, choreographer, and vocal arranger for the world premiere of Ryan M. Luevano’s Dance Plague. They are a member of the Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience collective, Literary Manager and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and Actor’s Equity Association.
John Pasha* (he/him) is thrilled to make his San Francisco debut with Golden Thread! NYC: Napoli, Brooklyn (Roundabout), A Wilder Christmas (Peccadillo), The Constant Couple (The Pearl), Horatio (FringeNYC). Regionally: Amir in Disgraced (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis & St. Louis Theatre Circle, Best Actor Nom.), Henry in The Real Thing at Capital Stage, Barrington Stage, Kansas City Repertory, Sacramento Theater Company, Asolo Repertory, Hangar Theater, Clarence Brown, Pioneer Theater. Full seasons at Santa Cruz Shakespeare (2010), American Shakespeare Center (2008), Alabama Shakespeare (2005), Pennsylvania Shakespeare (2004), New Mexico Shakespeare (2000), Utah Shakespeare (1999; Tony Award Season), Colorado Shakespeare (1997/98) and The Shakespeare Theatre (1995-96). TV/ Film: NYC Soaps, Sound, Heartless, The Order and Pop Rocks. Training: M.F.A. University of Delaware (PTTP), B.F.A. Boston University, RADA
Arielle Tonkin (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, ritualist, graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 2017), and based in Berkeley, CA. ReOrient 2023 marks Arielle’s debut in a “traditional” acting role on stage! Arielle’s artwork, rooted in painting and social practice, centers relationships, ritual and healing. Recent exhibition highlights include: Morocco to the Bay: A Diasporic Prayerformance (2023) at Albany Bulb, CA; A Fence Around the Torah: Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life (2021-2022) at the Jewish Museum of Maryland; Queering Jewish Diasporas (2019) at the Omni Commons, Oakland, CA; Orienting Action (2018) at the Rubin Frankel Gallery, Boston, MA. Arielle’s arts and culture organizing, through interfaith cross-textual exchange and Mizrahi cultural flourishing began in post- 9/11 New York at age fifteen. Arielle weaves relationships and materializes conversations: the Muslim-Jewish Arts Fellowship, the Arts Jam for Social Change, Tzedek Lab, Mitsui Collective, and Inside Out Wisdom in Action are among their networks of accountability, collective power, and care.
Mehrnaz Tiv, Mr. Perfect Isn’t Persian
Rita Akroush, 65 Joules