a celebration of International Women's Day
In honor of International Women’s Day, Golden Thread’s What Do the Women Say? returns to the Brava Theater Center with Expressions of Joy, a celebration of the resilience and richness of Palestinian traditions and culture through the works of Palestinian women artists.
Pre-show lobby activities 6:30 pm/ Show 8:00 pm, Pacific Time. Run time 120 minutes without intermission.
What Do the Women Say? 2024: Expressions of Joy features:
Executive Artistic Director Sahar Assaf facilitates a conversation with participating artists and audience following the presentations.
Pre-show lobby activities include:
The program is presented in a hybrid format with artists appearing in-person and virtually. Audiences can join in person or online.
To learn more about this annual program and past events, click here.
Al-Juthoor company members are Zaynah Hindi, Yasmeen Odeh, Christina Harb, Leila Mire, Basma, Wassim Hage, Linda Zaro, Monica McCown. Al-Juthoor (“Roots” in Arabic) of the Arab Diaspora is a Dabkeh troupe that raises awareness about Arab and Palestinian struggle, culture, and art. We empower our community and youth to take pride in our heritage, our past, and our future by honoring our history and celebrating our resistance. Across the borders of our diaspora, we assert our community’s connection to our deep roots in the land and the people throughout the Arab world, from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. Our culture and very existence has become inseparable from resistance to colonialism and state violence. Dabkeh is more than just a celebratory event – its every movement is an ode to our Martyrs, a salute to our resistance fighters and political prisoners, and an expression of our will toward our collective liberation. Al-Juthoor is the soul of the dispossessed awaiting their return to their homes, olive groves, villages, and to their land. With each stomp that shakes the earth, we seek to send tremors to those that oppress us. The art of dabkeh celebrates our resistance, asserts our rage against occupation, and demonstrates our commitment to liberation while reminding the world that we are resilient and steadfast. Our people and our land will be free. WE SHALL RETURN!
Susan Abulhawa is a novelist, poet, essayist, scientist, mother, and activist. Her debut novel Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010), translated into 30 languages, was an international bestseller and is considered a classic in Palestinian literature. Its reach and sales have made Abulhawa the most widely read Palestinian author. Her second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury, 2015), was likewise an international bestseller. Against the Loveless World was published in August 2020 by Simon & Schuster to much acclaim. She is also the author of a poetry collection, My Voice Sought The Wind (Just World Books, 2013), contributor to several anthologies, political commentator, and frequent speaker. Abulhawa is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a children’s organization dedicated to uplifting Palestinian children. She is also the Executive Director of Palestine Writes, the first North American Palestinian literature festival.
Amal Bisharat (she/her) is a Palestinian American multidisciplinary artist: a theatre director, writer, producer, musician, and photographer. Bisharat is a grateful recipient of the Theater Bay Area Arts Leadership Residency Grant (2022-23), Theater Bay Area CA$H Creates Grant (2022), and San Francisco Arts Commission Artist Grant (2023). She 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. Currently Bisharat works with Golden Thread Productions, recently co-producing and directing for their signature program ReOrient Festival of Short Plays (2023), as well as directing an online reading of The Gaza Monologues by Ashtar Theatre-Palestine (2023). Bisharat is also the process of creating her first musical, a Palestinian refugee story adapted from the internationally best-selling novel Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. 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 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.
Amal Bisharat (she/her) is a Palestinian American multidisciplinary artist: a theatre director, theatre maker, producer, actor, musician, and photographer. Bisharat holds a BA in Music and Theater from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and for 12 years worked as a director and music director in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District. Currently she works with Golden Thread Productions, recently co-producing and directing for their signature program ReOrient Festival of Short Plays (2023), and directing an online reading of The Gaza Monologues by Ashtar Theater (2023). Bisharat is also in the process of creating her first musical, “Morning in Jenin Musical”, a Palestinian refugee story adapted from the internationally best-selling novel by the same name by Susan Abulhawa. After many years hiatus from acting, Bisharat is thrilled to be returning to her roots this year to play the role of Safiyya in Golden Thread’s upcoming production of Returning to Haifa by Ghassan Kanafani, adapted for the stage by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi. Bisharat is a grateful recipient of the Theater Bay Area Arts Leadership Residency Grant (2022-2023), Theater Bay Area CA$H Creates Grant (2022), and San Francisco Arts Commission Artist Grant (2023).
Bisharat is also a photographer with her own arts-focused photography company, capturing the magic of professional dance, theater, and music performances for 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.
Denmo Ibrahim is an American actor and playwright of Egyptian descent. Her work has been produced and developed by Marin Theatre Company, New York Theatre Workshop, The Civilians R&D Series, Amphibian Stage, Alter Theatre, Shotgun Players, Golden Thread and Crowded Fire. Regional acting credits include Berkeley Repertory, The Old Globe, Seattle Repertory, American Conservatory of Theatre and CalShakes. Denmo is a two-time winner of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Theatre Bay Area awards and a finalist for SPACE at Ryder Farm, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Rainin Fellowship and Sundance Theatre Lab. Her children’s book Zaynab’s Night of Destiny (Fons Vitae, 2021) toured 25 public schools in Kentucky and was supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts. Denmo holds an MFA in Lecoq-based Actor Created Physical Theater (Naropa University) and a BFA in Acting (Boston University).
Raeda Taha is a Palestinian actor, storyteller, writer, and political activist. She authored and performed several one-woman plays inspired by her life story and her experience as a Palestinian in the diaspora. Most notably, her play Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali? directed by Lina Abyad received international acclaim and was performed in over 20 countries. The play is featured in Brill’s Critical Anthology on Modern and Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant, edited by Robert Myers and Nada Saab. Her other one-woman plays include 36 Abbas Street/Haifa 2017, The Fig Tree, and The Gazelle of Akka. As an actor, Raeda has played significant roles in plays across the Arab World, including Returning to Haifa (2011) by Ghassan Kanafani, 80 Degree (2012) directed by Alia Al-Khaldi, Petra Rocks (2013-2014) directed by Lina Abyad, and Ghalia’s Miles (2017) by Zoukak Theatre Company. Raeda holds a BA in Media and Journalism from George Mason University. Her notable career includes serving as a media attaché for President Yasser Arafat (1987-1994) and later chairing the administrative committee at the Khalil al-Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah (2000-2008). Since 2010, Raeda has been a member of the Ghassan Kanafani Foundation in Beirut.
Bahar Royaee The acoustic and electro-acoustic music of Iranian composer/sound designer Bahar Royaee has been acclaimed as “succeed(ing) as a poetic incantation, brimming with ideas and colors” (Classical Voice North America) and “haunting” (Boston Arts Review). Working in NYC and Boston, Bahar has received the Fromm Music Foundation Commission (2022), as well as honors such as the Pnea, National Sawdust Hildegard, the Roger Session Memorial Composition and Korourian Electroacoustic Music Awards. Bahar writes music for various genres from opera, theater and film to chamber music. Her work has been performed by luminaries such as Claire Chase, Suzanne Farrin, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble der gelbe Klang, Jack Quartet, Loadbang, Contemporary Insights of Leipzig, Guerrilla Opera, Longleash. Kimia Hesabi, and Splice Ensemble. Significant chamber music performances include Ultraschall Berlin with Muriel Razavi (2023), ICE Festival Germany with ensemble Tempus Konnex (2022), Berlin Prize for Young Artists with Adam Woodward (2023), Tehran Electroacoustic Music Festival (2022) and Time:Spans Festival (2020) with International Contemporary Ensemble and Suzanne Farrin. Royaee is an adjunct lecturer at Baruch College and Artist-in-Residence at Longy School of Music. Her composition mentors have included Marti Epstein, Andrew List, Felipe Lara, Suzanne Farrin and Jason Eckardt.
curator, Threads of Belonging
Souad Faisal Amin is a Palestinian activist, artist, and fashion designer based in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1985, she earned her Master’s degree in Food Technology and Nutrition from the American University of Beirut but her passion for the arts led her to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Lebanese American University in 2000, followed by Fashion Design classes at Esmode between 2005 and 2007. Between 2002 and 2012, Souad dedicated her time and skills to volunteering in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon with different non-governmental organizations. She also served on the Board of Directors of LOYAC, a Kuwaiti NGO working in Lebanon to empower youth through various projects and initiatives. In 2012, Souad took a significant step in her advocacy journey by founding Threads of Belonging, an initiative aimed at celebrating Palestinian cultural identity and promoting women’s empowerment within the refugee communities. To date, Threads of Belonging has employed more than 80 women, who produce hundreds of handmade pieces reflecting the rich Palestinian cultural heritage through thousands of stitches that tell stories of resilience and tradition.
Threads of Belonging
Threads of Belonging
THREADS OF BELONGING originated in 2011 when it started as an order for traditionally embroidered tablecloths for a Palestinian wedding. Over time, it evolved into an empowerment initiative inspiring women in Southern Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps to express their talent and creativity through the timeless art of Palestinian embroidery. What initially served as a means to support refugee families with extra income transformed into a creative endeavor, bringing joy and pride to the participants in the project through a celebration of this ancient Palestinian art and heritage. Thus, Threads of Belonging was born. Threads of Belonging introduces innovative motifs, compositions, and novel color combinations in cutting-edge clothing designs. Each meticulously crafted piece bears the unique signature of its embroiderer, concealing within its every stitch a longing for a home that will never die.
Aswat Ensemble company members are Bisan Shehadeh (Executive Director), Basma Edrees (violin), Susu Pampanin (percussion), Amina Goodyear (rik), Rana Mroue (vocalist), Amira Kotb (vocalist), Yasmeen Daifallah (vocalist). Zawaya’s musical department, Aswat Ensemble, is the Bay Area’s premier Arab Music Ensemble. True to Zawaya’s commitment to pluralism and inclusion, Aswat is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural music ensemble and volunteer choir that reaches out to the diverse Bay Area community with folkloric, classical, and contemporary Arabic music. Zawaya’s vision is to achieve intercultural solidarity, respect, and understanding through the universal languages of music and the arts. We seek to educate, preserve, produce, and promote Arab Arts in the Bay Area and as broad as our efforts can reach.
Basma Edrees is an Egyptian violinist, performer, and educator based in the SF Bay Area. She is the founder of Music in-Takht, the Bay Area’s Egyptian heritage ensemble. Passionate about introducing the world to the rich musical heritage of the Arab world, Edrees has given Arabic music workshops at UC Berkeley and Stanford. She also taught Arabic music and European counterpoint at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is currently a violin instructor at Santa Clara University. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Mannes School of Music, Edrees also specializes in European classical music and Tango music.
Amina Goodyear is best known as an Egyptian dancer and dance teacher turned percussionist, active since the mid 1960’s. Since the 1980’s she founded many musical groups such as the Cairo Cats, a percussion ensemble led by her daughter Susu Pampanin. She also co-founded The Arabian Knights Band and Caravan Band, and was founding member of Pasha Band. Today she is a founding member of Aswat Arab Music Ensemble and AWE, Aswat Women’s Ensemble, Dulabina, Beit el Tarab and SF Sahra Band. She is also a member of and travels throughout the U.S with the Georges Lammam Ensemble.
Amira Kotb is an Egyptian American singer that specializes in Arab and spiritual music. She writes and performs sacred songs in Arabic, and sings in several other languages including Turkish, Persian, English, French and Greek. In addition to being a vocalist with Aswat and Huyam Ensembles, Amira is a student of the qanun instrument, a mother of two and a non-profit executive.
A scientist by training and profession, it took Rana Mroue a move to the Bay Area from her native Lebanon to finally indulge in her lifelong passion for Arabic music. Joining Aswat Ensemble in 2007, Rana found a way to connect her love of music with community service, and quickly started, under the tutelage of Nabila Mango, supporting Aswat with administrative tasks from programming to grant writing. Rana continues to be an active member in Aswat as a singer and vocal trainer, and is currently overseeing the execution of team-building activities that aim to expand DEI values in the organization.
Susu Pampanin is a world-renowned percussionist specializing in Middle-Eastern percussion. She has recorded and performed with women’s world music fusion group, Wild Mango, percussion ensemble, Keith Terri and Crosspulse, and Stella Mara. In 1990, Susu and the Cairo Cats, Dancing Drums was released, and 2000, released her solo album Susu Pampanin “Hands of Time”. In 2013 she recorded “Nostalgia” with Safaa Farid and his band in Cairo, and in 2020 with Reda Henkesh of the world-famed Henkesh family - artists from Mohamed Ali.
Nabila Mango co-founded Zawaya with Haya Shawa Ben-Halim in 2003 to preserve and promote the Arab arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Aswat, which predates Zawaya by three years, is Zawaya’s flagship Arabic music and performance program and the Bay Area’s premiere Arabic music ensemble. A member of school choirs in high school and college, Nabila never lost her passion for the performing arts. Nabila was known as someone who reads prolifically in politics, women’s affairs, languages, music history, and cultural issues and owned the largest library of Arabic music in the U.S.