West Coast Premiere
by Mona Mansour
Jamila, a studious 17-year-old Palestinian girl growing up in a refugee camp in Lebanon, feverishly prepares for the university exam that is her only way out of the impoverished world she calls home. Winner of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Prize and Middle East America honorable mention, Mansour offers a feast of personalities and juicy dialogue in this searing and funny family story.
November 15, 2013 - December 9, 2013
470 Florida St., San Francisco, 94110
Written by Mona Mansour
Directed by Evren Odcikin
Featuring Munaf Alsafi, Camila Betancourt Ascencio, Tara Blau*, Terry Lamb*, Julian Lopez-Mirrilas*, Wiley Naman Strasser
Deasign & Production Team: Brendan Aanes (sound design), Kate Boyd (scenic & lighting design), Michelle Mulholland (costume design), Devon Labelle (props master)
Fresh out of a residency at Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, Playwright Mona Mansour says: “I’m excited to look again at this piece that really is fairly autobiographical and very close to my heart…I don’t think stories about the Middle East are being told enough, and they surely aren’t being told truthfully.”
Director Evren Odcikin adds: “Mona mixes the personal with the political, the funny with the tragic with such craft. Mona is an actor’s writer through and through. I cannot wait to dive into the world she’s created with the amazing cast of actors we’ve assembled.”
Mona Mansour’s play The Way West will get its world premiere in spring of 2014 at Steppenwolf, directed by Amy Morton. The play received a BareBones workshop at the Lark Play Development Center (directed by Linsay Firman) where Mona was a Fellow in 2012. The Hour of Feeling (directed by Mark Wing-Davey) received its world premiere in the 2012 Humana Festival in Louisville. Following that, it was part of the High Tide Festival in the U.K. as part of the Rifle Hall plays. Urge for Going (directed by Hal Brooks) received a LAB production in the 2011 season at the Public Theater, and will have its West Coast premiere in fall 2013 at Golden Thread in San Francisco (directed by Evren Odcikin). The Vagrant, the third play in the trilogy, was selected to be workshopped at the 2013 Sundance Theater Institute. Mark Wing-Davey will direct. Mona was a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Core Writer at Minneapolis’ Playwrights’ Center, and has just been selected for membership in New Dramatists. Other plays include Across the Water, Girl Scouts of America and Broadcast Yourself (part of Headlong Theater’s Decade). With Tala Manassah she has written The House, for Noor Theatre, After, and The Letter, which premiered in November 2012 at Golden Thread’s ReOrient Festival; Mona and Tala were in residence this summer at Berkeley Rep as part of Ground Floor, where they worked on a musical play called The Wife. Television credits: Dead Like Me and Queens Supreme. Honorable mention, 2010 Middle East America Playwright Award; 2012 Whiting Award.
Evren Odcikin is the literary artistic associate for Golden Thread Productions, where he has been producing the reading series New Threads for the last three years and led the selection process for and helped produce the ReOrient 2012 Festival and Forum. In 2013, he will also produce the world premiere of Torange Yeghiazarian’s 444 Days. For Golden Thread, he directed the West Coast premiere of Yussef El Guindi’s Language Rooms(coproduced by Asian American Theater Company), which moved to the Los Angeles Theater Center and was a critic’s pick forLos Angeles Times. His other directing credits include the world premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s 410[GONE]and the West Coast premiere of Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Invasion!for Crowded Fire Theater; The Oldest Profession(two Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Award nominations) and Machinal (three BATCC Award nominations including best director and best production) for Brava Theater Center; West Coast premiere of The Play About the Naked Guy(“Honorable Mention” fromBay Area Reporter) for Impact Theatre; and Rhino for Boxcar Theatre (“Most Inventive Staging of 2010” fromSF Weekly, “Best Play of 2010” fromSF Bay Times). He has directed readings and workshops at American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Cutting Ball, PlayGround, and Bay Area Playwrights Festival amongst others. Upcoming productions include the West Coast premiere of Mona Mansour’s Urge For Going for Golden Thread and the world premiere of Christopher Chen’s Muttfor Impact Theatre and Ferocious Lotus. Born and raised in Turkey and a graduate of Princeton University, Evren was awarded Theatre Bay Area’s 2013 TITAN Award for Directors and selected as an Emerging Theatre Leader by Theatre Communications Group for their American Express Leadership Bootcamp.
Munaf Alsafi is an Iraqi-born SF Bay Area actor and musician. Munaf was raised in the deep south where delta blues influenced his music and his love of folklore. He moved to the bay area in 1992 and has spent the past few years living and traveling abroad in South America, North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East learning the sounds and instruments of those regions. Munaf has performed in several bay area plays including Series B in the ReOerient Festival 2012, Burqavaganza, 10 Acrobats, and Aftermath.
Camila Betancourt Ascencio
Camila Betancourt Ascencio
Camila Betancourt Ascencio has just returned from training at Stella Adler Studio in New York and is thrilled to be in her first Golden Thread main stage production. She is so excited and grateful to be a part of this wonderful show, as she fell in love with the play after participating in the staged reading. Some past roles include Sister Helen (Dead Man Walking), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Rosie (Really Rosie) and Florence (Female Odd Couple). Camila speaks four languages and in her spare time she enjoys playing guitar, singing, dancing and learning as much as she can. She is so grateful for the wonderful family and friends in her life.
Tara Blau has performed in Bay Area productions at: TheatreWorks, Aurora Theatre Company, Sacramento Theater Company, Cinnabar Theatre Company, Porchlight Theatre Company, Pacific Alliance and Berkeley Rep to name a few. Favorite Roles include: Amanda in Private Lives, Meurtuil in Les Liasons Dangerouses, Masha in Three Sisters, Anna Petrova in Wild Honey, and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Tara is the proud recipient of 3 Dean Goodman Awards and has been nominated for two BATCC awards for lead actress in a drama. She holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver. Tara would like to thank her parents, and Craig for all their support.
Terry Lamb performed previously with Golden Thread in Language Rooms (including the Los Angeles run), Night Over Erzinga, and Deep Cut. With Central Works Theater Ensemble he acted in Penelope’s Odyssey and Bird in the Hand. His TheatreFirst performances were in Nathan the Wise, A Map of the World, and The Colour of Justice. He was in the Shotgun Players’ Bulrusher and the New Conservatory’s Men from the Boys His Magic Theatre credits include Angel City, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Breaking the Code, and The Film Socitey. At the Aurora Theatre he acted in Candida, The Panel, Ghosts, Transcendental Wild Oats, Widowers’ Houses, and Mrs. Warren’sProfession. He has also worked with these other Bay Area theaters: Marin, Stage Left, Pirandello Project, Berkeley Jewish, San Jose Stage, Geoffrey Chaucer, Black Repertory, TheaterWorks, San Francisco Mime Troupe, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. In addition, Terry produces the YouTube film series “Encounters on Earth,” which features short dramatic pieces showcasing Bay Area actors and writers.
Julian Lopez-Morillas previously appeared with Golden Thread in Naomi Wallace’s Between This Breath and You. He has recently celebrated 40 years in Bay Area theatre, having appeared with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, ACT, the California Shakespeare Theatre, San Jose Repertory and many others. Last year he took his solo show, Sleep to Wake: Robert Browning Remembers Elizabeth to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Julian has appeared professionally in all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays and was a two-day winner on Jeopardy!
Wiley Naman Strasser
Wiley Naman Strasser
Wiley Naman Strasser returns to Golden Thread after Weeping Willow (FuryFactory) and Rumix7. Other recent productions include: The Great Big Also with Mugwumpin and Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Nightwith Cutting Ball, where he is an Associate Artist*.*Other credits include productions with Crowded Fire, Playwrights Foundation, Cabrillo Stage, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Buffalo Nights, LA Opera, and the Los Angeles Theater Center. Mr. Strasser holds a BA in Theater from UCLA.
Watch a short video clip from the production: