The first event in our 25th Anniversary Season is our first digital rendition of What Do the Women Say? Celebrating 25 Years of Centering Women Artists! Golden Thread began producing a Women’s Day event in 1999 titled, From the Inside. The event was a multi-media performance involving eight women artists including performers and visual artists.
This year, we are speaking about Golden Thread’s legacy and impact with artists whose experience with Golden Thread ranges from one year to more than twenty years. What has Golden Thread’s impact been on these artists’ career? What is their hope for Golden Thread’s next 25 years?
March 8, 2021
Featuring Torange Yeghiazarian and Nora El Samahy; confirmed guest artists include Sofia Ahmad, Lana Nasser, Sara Razavi, Naima Shalhoub, Sedef Ecer, among others.
This year’s program features Board president and resident artist, Nora El Samahy in conversation with founding artistic director, Torange Yeghiazarian on a journey highlighting Golden Thread’s 25-year history of placing Middle Eastern women artists center stage. Guest artists join Nora and Torange to reflect on the role Golden Thread has played in their artistic trajectory and their hopes for the future, including Sofia Ahmad, Lana Nasser, Sara Razavi, Naima Shalhoub, Sedef Ecer, among others. This year’s program also highlighted the International Women’s Day organization’s theme of #ChoosetoChallenge and asked each of our featured artists what they planned to challenge this year!
A highly anticipate annual offering, Golden Thread Productions celebrates International Women’s Day with What Do the Women Say?, which showcases the work of leading Middle Eastern women artists. Previous programs have focused on dismantling patriarchy, the resilience of Syrian women who build community through their art, and artists who explore sex and sexuality.
Past featured artists include Elmaz Abinader (This House, My Bones), Majeda Al Saqqa (Culture and Free Thought Association, Gaza Strip), Anita Amirrezvani (The Blood of Flowers, Equal to the Sun), Nawal el Saadawi (Memoirs from the Women’s Prison), Denmo Ibrahim (Baba, ECSTASY | a waterfable), Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance), Rohiha Malek (Unveiled), Nabila Mango (executive director, Zawaya), Ayesha Mattau (Love Inshallah), Zahra Noorbakhsh (All Atheists are Muslim, #GoodMuslimBadMuslim), Shahrnush Parsipur (The Prison Memoirs, Women Without Men), Betty Shamieh (The Black Eyed, Territories), Deema Shehabi (Thirteen Departures From the Moon), Seema Sueko (Remains), and Rosemary Toohey (The Body Washer), and Dina Zarif.
Iranian American Sara Razavi first approached Golden Thread with a proposal to build an Education program. Since then, she has performed in several ReOrient Festivals, directed a few short plays, and served on Golden Thread’s Board of Trustees when she contributed to developing the company’s five-year strategic plan.
Yemeni American Yasmine Diaz is a visual artist based in LA and was a featured artist in WDWS 2018. She is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice weaves between culture, class, gender, religion, and family. She uses mixed media collage, immersive installation, fiber etching, and video to juxtapose discordant cultural references and to explore the connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures.
Jordanian American and currently living in Holland, award-winning playwright Lana Nasser was among the first women to perform in WDWS consistently. Long-time Golden Thread audiences may recall Lana’s mystical dream-infused belly dancing! A multi-disciplinary artist, Lana has creative and academic publications in three different languages! She holds degrees in Psychology (BA) and Consciousness Studies (MA), with a focus on dreams.
Lebanese American Naima Shalhoub first collaborated with Golden Thread on The Fifth String, an original play with live music about the life of 9th-century trailblazer, Ziryab. She next performed selections from Isfahn Blues at our 20th anniversary gala concert and was a featured artist in WDWS 2018. A vocalist, composer, performing artist, and educator based in the Bay Area, her multidimensional work explores the borderlands of belonging, remembrance, liberation, and the expansive quality of the voice - its power for healing and energizing social justice movements.
Pakistani American Sofia Ahmad first collaborated with Golden Thread on the anti-war musical, Love Missile in 2005. She returned ten years later to perform in Isfahan Blues, followed by The Most Dangerous Highway in the World and On the Periphery.
Turkish French Sedef Ecer worked with Golden Thread on the US premiere of a new English translation of her play On the Periphery in 2020. Born in Istanbul, she is a novelist, playwright and screenwriter in both Turkish and French. Her plays are performed in numerous theaters and festivals in different countries, published, awarded and translated into Polish, Turkish, Armenian, German, Greek, English, Persian, Italian etc.
Executive Artistic Director
(she/her) 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
Board President/Resident Artist
Nora el Samahy
Nora el Samahy’s (she/her) 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.