We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War

by Mona Mansour

Dive into the murky waters of family, identity, and politics

We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War

While trying to navigate the currents of the Pacific, an Arab-American woman and her nephew, who has enlisted in the military, dive into the murky waters of family, identity, and politics. Adventurous and playful, We Swim takes the form of a literal conversation on stage, and expands into a nuanced dialogue about what it means to be American, Arab, and Arab-American at our current moment in time. Lebanese-American writer Mona Mansour returns to Golden Thread for her fourth production — her most ambitious and personal to date.

The play offers its audience an opportunity to examine America’s relationship with its military, as well as its growing Middle Eastern immigrant population. It blurs the lines between ‘us’ and ’them,’’ and presents a provocative exploration of the tragic and indelible ripples of war.

November 17, 2018 - December 16, 2018

Potrero Stage

1695 18th Street, San Francisco

Written by Mona Mansour

Directed by Evren Odcikin

Featuring Tre'Vonne Bell, Joshua Chessin-Yudin, Adam El-Sharkawi, Sarah Nina Hayon

Design Team: Cassie Barnes (lighting), Kate Boyd (scenic), Sara Huddleston (sound), Mona Kasra (projections), Michelle Mulholland (costumes)

Dramaturgy by Sonia Fernandez

Hala Baki (assisstant director)

This production runs 75 minutes with no intermission.

This play was commissioned by Middle East America: A National New Plays Initiative, created by Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco), The Lark (New York City), and Silk Road Rising (Chicago). Mona Mansour is the third winner of the Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award, which was previously awarded to Adriana Sevahn Nichols and Yussef El Guindi.


HIGHEST RATING! “A unifying cleanse… Mansour’s disarmingly naturalistic dialogue helps make these seismic structural shifts work. Over and over again, you might find yourself thinking, ‘Wow, this is how people actually talk’ — not to stoke drama for some playwright’s convenience, but to hedge, to test boundaries, to pursue what they want, and then to placate, to retreat, to regret.” —Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle (read full review)

We Swim has an off-handed beauty… Its pleasures are engaging in ways that political theatre rarely is.” —John Wilkins, The Free Audience

“A poetic visual approach… Feels refreshing from the get-go.” —Jim Gladstone, Bay Area Reporter

“Imaginative… There’s humor and an engaging earnestness.” —Jean Schiffman, San Francisco Examiner

“Excellently choreographed… Odcikin’s direction is to be commended.” —Carol Benet, For All Events

“Working on a bare-bones unit set designed by Kate Boyd and enhanced by Mona Kasra’s projections, Odcikin has done an impressive job of shaping the conversations.” —George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape

“Compelling… Director Evren Odcikin handles changes of pace and place handily.” —Sam Hurwitt, Mercury News

Behind-the-Scenes Blog

Dive into Stage Magic

Have you ever tried swimming on stage? We have. Assistant director Hala Baki takes you behind the scenes as the We Swim creative team tackles this fun theatrical challenge.

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Fairuz: The Voice of Home

The beloved Lebanese singer Fairuz’s music plays an important part in We Swim. ASWAT Ensemble soloist Rana Mroue explains the historical importance of this artist in the Arab world.

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Backstage Musings: We Swim Actors Reflect on the Play

The cast of the world premiere discuss the play and their development and production experience.

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In the Press

A gulf between a family in Golden Thread’s We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War

San Francisco Chronicle’s Lily Janiak recommends We Swim

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SF/ARTS Theatre Pick

Jean Schiffman names We Swim one of her November picks for theatre.

Commissions with a Mission: To Create a Middle Eastern American Plays

American Theatre Magazine’s Lizzie Simon writes about our Middle East America commissioning initiative after attending the 2016 Middle East America Convening.

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Mona Mansour Interview

Director Evren Odcikin interviewed playwright Mona Mansour in advance of an earlier workhop of this play at the Lark in New York City.

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Cast & Crew

Mona Mansour


→ Bio

Evren Odcikin


→ Bio

Cast: Tre’Vonne Bell, Joshua Chessin-Yudin, Adam El-Sharkawi, and Sarah Nina Hayon.
Creative Team: Hala Baki (assistant director), Cassie Barnes^ (lighting designer), Kate Boyd^ (scenic designer), Sara Huddleston (sound designer), Mona Kasra (projection designer), Michelle Mulholland (costume designer), Carla Pantoja (fight choreographer), Slater Penney (movement consultant), Karen Runk^ (stage manager), Benjamin Shiu^ (assistant stage manager), Chris Swartzel (technical director), and Grisel Torres^ (production manager)

• • •

We are grateful for the support of the following institutions:

Golden Thread thanks Sam Mazza Foundation, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, The Fleishhacker Foundation, and The Tournesol Project for their support. We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War was developed at the 2017 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, a program of the Playwrights Foundation (Amy L. Mueller, Artistic Director). Golden Thread is a resident company of Potrero Stage, operated by PlayGround. This production is made possible in part through the Potrero Stage Presenting Program.

Golden Thread Productions

1695 18th Street, #C101
San Francisco, CA 94107
The ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone

Phone: 415.626.4061


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