by Amir Nizar Zuabi
Called “extraordinary” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Oh My Sweet Land returns to Bay Area home and community kitchens after a sold-out pilot run in October 2017. The tour-de-force solo show, based on interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan, takes an unflinching and personal look at the Syrian refugee crisis, and the brutal war that led up to it. In the play, a woman of mixed Syrian-German parentage recalls her encounter with Ashraf, a Syrian man in Paris, all the while preparing kibbeh, a Syrian delicacy. When he disappears, she goes on an arduous journey in search of him that leads to stirring conversations with some of the two-million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. One part detective story, one part a woman’s reckoning with her heritage, Oh My Sweet Land offers an intimate and nuanced perspective on the conflict in Syria and highlights the resilience of the Syrian people.
March 1, 2018 - March 30, 2018
Written by Amir Nizar Zuabi
Directed by Torange Yeghiazarian
Featuring Nora el Samahy
In addition to the performances open to the public, Oh My Sweet Land was also presented at organizations such as Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Google exclusively for those served by the institutions.
Zuabi says of his experience of working on the play: “We met people in the harshest moments of their life, yet still they were generous, full of grace, hope, and even humor. This piece is inspired by their stories but more than anything it is inspired by their spirit — that elastic rubber-like ability man has to adapt and to weather the storm.”
Oh My Sweet Land runs one hour followed by a 30-minute food sharing and community conversation. Instead of a traditional theater space, Oh My Sweet Land will be performed in kitchens around the Bay Area with performances followed by food sharing and community conversations. The performance includes the cooking of meat, onions, wheat, and spices. Some locations may not be accessible for those with disabilities or allergens may be present. Please see individual performance dates for pricing and more details.
Old Damascus Fare
Syrian refugee and kibbeh expert Rawaa Kasedah taught actress Nora el Samahy how to make the traditional Syrian dish. Her catering company, Old Damascus Fare, which launched during the 2017 run of the show, also has provided the delicious Syrian food at most performances. If you’d like to use them for your catering needs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415.702.0177.
Our production gets the highest rating from the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Oh My Sweet Land harks back to a primal joy: that of sitting at the counter of an experienced cook, to watch, listen and smell as she works and tells stories.”
Jean Schiffman from SF/ARTS interviews the artists of Oh My Sweet Land.
“Suffused with rich sensorial detail, a dollop of mordant humor and an ineffable yearning for home, Oh My Sweet Land is about characters, says Yeghiazarian, who are driven by urgency, a need for protection and the need to protect.”
The KQED Public Radio feature by Rachael Myrow includes excerpts from a performance of Oh My Sweet Land.
“When you’re feeding people, they trust you — implicitly, because they’re going to eat your food! There’s a give and take that’s unspoken."
American Theatre Magazine features the bi-coastal productions of the play.
“The deep connection with the food is what ties [the character] in to her lineage, her heritage. In the Arab world, hospitality and nourishing your children and family and friends are paramount.”
Sam Hurwitt speaks to Nora el Samahy and Torange Yeghiazarian for The Mercury News
“I love that there’s this deep generosity in the piece about sharing these stories. And these characters you meet are not monolithic. They’re not tragic. The situation has been tragic, but these are full people.”
Leslie Katz from SF Examiner reviews the show.
““Oh My Sweet Land” is a sensitive, savory one-woman show about the plight of Syrians.”
Golden Thread has partnered with the International Rescue Committee Oakland to raise awareness about their resettlement services in the Bay Area. The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. In Oakland and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives. Please donate to support their work.
Amir Nizar Zuabi
Amir Nizar Zuabi
Amir Nizar Zuabi is an award-winning theatre writer and director, the artistic director of ShiberHur theater company in Haifa, Israel, an associate director of Young Vic London, and an associate partner of the United Theaters Europe. Writing and directing credits include I am Yusuf and This is My Brother, In the Penal Colony, Alive From Palestine, Oh My Sweet Land, The Beloved (co-produced by ShiberHur/Young Vic), Three Days of Mourning, West of Us the Sea, Dry Mud, Against A Hard Surface (ShiberHur). Directing credits include Samson and Delilah (Flanders Opera, Antwerp), Jidarriya by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (Edinburgh International Festival, Bouffes du Nord, and world tour), The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company as part of World Shakespeare Festival). Currently, Zuabi is writing a play for the National Theatre, London.
Torange Yeghiazarian (Executive Artistic Director) founded Golden Thread in 1996 where she launched such visionary programs as ReOrient Festival & Forum, Middle East America (in partnership with the Lark and Silkroad Rising), Islam 101 (with Hafiz Karmali), New Threads, and the Fairytale Players. Torange’s plays include ISFAHAN BLUES, 444 DAYS, THE FIFTH STRING: ZIRYAB’S PASSAGE TO CORDOBA, and CALL ME MEHDI. Awards include the Gerbode-Hewlett Playwright Commission Award (ISFAHAN BLUES) and a commission by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (THE FIFTH STRING). Her short play CALL ME MEHDI is published in the anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009. She adapted the poem, I SELL SOULS by Simin Behbehani to the stage, and directed the premieres of 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. Her articles on contemporary theatre in Iran have been published in The Drama Review (2012), American Theatre Magazine (2010), and Theatre Bay Area Magazine (2010), and HowlRound. Torange has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and Cambridge World Encyclopedia of Stage Actors. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University. Torange has been recognized by Theatre Bay Area and is one of Theatre Communication Group’s Legacy Leaders of Color. She was honored by the Cairo International Theatre Festival (2016) and the Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry (2017).
Nora el Samahy
Nora el Samahy
Nora el Samahy’s professional acting career began in 1998 as a Fairy in San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. She then went on to work with Campo Santo, Golden Thread Productions, Alter Theater, Aurora Theatre, Magic Theatre, foolsFURY, Traveling Jewish Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Exit Theater, Theatre Rhinoceros, Woman’s Will, Shotgun Players, African American Shakespeare Company, among others. In 2013, Nora founded a performance company called Affinity Project with Atosa Babaoff, Beatrice Basso, and Emily Hoffman. Nora is a Pilates teacher and co-owner of studio 74 pilates with business partner Jennifer Moulton. She received her BA in psychology from Wellesley College. Love and thanks to Patrick and Ziyad.
Technical Consultant: Kate Boyd, Chef Consultant: Brian Espinoza, Props Master: Grisel Torres, Kibbeh Expert: Rawaa Kasedah, Costume Consultant: Michelle Mulholland, Graphic Design: Navid G. Maghami, Stage Manager: Celeste Jacobson-Ingram, Assistant Stage Manager: Benjamin Shiu, Box Office Assistant: Niku Sharei