Showing posts with label Golden Thread Productions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Golden Thread Productions. Show all posts

Monday, April 8, 2019

Arabology Interviews Michael Malek Najjar, Director of "Scenes from 71* Years"

Listen at
Stanford Lecturer/Arabology Radio Host Dr. Ramzi Salti interviews Michael Malek Najjar, Director of Hannah Khalil's play "Scenes from 71* Years"--playing in San Francisco from April 5-May 5, 2018.  Interview was recorded by Skype on April 6, 2019.

For info, tickets, go to

MICHAEL MALEK NAJJAR (Ph.D., UCLA; M.F.A., York University; B.A., University of New Mexico) is an associate professor of Theatre Arts with the University of Oregon. He is the author of Arab American Drama, Film and Performance, 1908 to the Present: A Critical Study and the editor of Four Arab American Plays: Works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, and Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader (McFarland) and The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi (Bloomsbury). He founded Riverside Repertory Theatre (now Tricklock Company) in Albuquerque, NM and is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Directors Lab West, The Rawi Screenwriters Lab (Jordan), and British/American Drama Academy. He directed the world premiere of Precious Stones by Jamil Khoury, and has also directed many other Middle Eastern American plays including Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad, 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, Ecstasy: A Water Fable by Denmo Ibrahim, and When Farah Cries with Golden Thread Productions. He is currently serving on the editorial board of Arab Stages. He co-curated, and was lead director for, Semitic Commonwealth: A Staged Reading Series Comprised of Six Plays by Arab and Jewish Playwrights Exploring the Human Toll of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at Silk Road Rising, and he is currently co-editing a volume of the plays from that series for McFarland. He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and has been recognized for meritorious achievement for directing by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

ReOrient Festival Offers Numerous Productions in San Francisco (Sep 10-Oct 4)


ReOrient Festival presents eight fully-produced short plays in two repertory series, including award–winning Iraqi-British playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak’s U.S. debut, new works by Middle East America winners Yussef El Guindi and Mona Mansour, as well as world premieres by emerging voices like Nahal Navidar.

ReOrient Forum (Oct. 3 and 4) includes panels and presentations featuring artists, activists, and scholars from around the world.

Festival includes a Fairytale Players Double Bill:  Two family-friendly short plays inspired by Middle Eastern fables presented in one afternoon.  Music lovers can enjoy Syrian-American soprano Saousan Jarjour’s reminagining of Arabic folk songs.

“The annual cavalcade of short plays about the Middle East that has itself provided, in addition to a dependable variety of aesthetic pleasures, crucial space for public consideration and dialogue.” –Rob Avila, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“The evening offers two hours of the profound and the abstruse, the silly and the sublime. When you’re talking about the Middle East, you’re talking about a multiplicity of cultures and an infinite variety of voices, opinions and styles, and ReOrient offers a bold and broad sampling that give us a taste of that.” —Sam Hurwitt, The Idiolect

San Francisco, July 16, 2015—Featuring plays and artists from Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S., Golden Thread’sReOrient 2015 Festival and Forum will turn San Francisco into a mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from and about the Middle East. With plays, talkbacks, panels, roundtable conversations, a family show, and a recital for Arabic music lovers, ReOrient 2015 is an artistic celebration and political exploration of this transforming region for curious and engaged theatre lovers and those passionate about international themes.

The ReOrient Festival presents eight remarkably eclectic short plays in two series in repertory. The playwrights featured include Middle East America Award winner and recipient of 2012 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Circle Best New Play Award Yussef El Guindi; winner of Middle East America and Whiting Awards Mona Mansour; Iranian-American writer and recent USC graduate Nahal Navidar, and award–winning Israeli-American writer Ken Kaissar. For the first-time, the Festival also includes three British writers of Middle Eastern descent: winner of the William Saroyan Prize Silva Semerciyan returns to the ReOrient, and award-winning Iraqi-British playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak and Palestinian-Irish emerging writer Hannah Khalil make their U.S. debut.

The Festival culminates in a two-day ReOrient Forum featuring provocative conversations by artists, scholars, and activists from around the world. This year’s Forum features UC Davis Professor Sunaina Maira as Keynote Speaker, and presents panels on ideas of home and language for Palestinian artists around the world (organized by Theatre Without Borders), the intersection of sexual identity with Middle Eastern performance (organized by Shape-Shift Arts & Saboteur Productions), a multigenerational perspective of Iranian-American theatre (organized by Diaspora Arts Connection), and a panel on the future of Bay Area’s culturally-specific theatre companies (organized by Theatre Bay Area), amongst others. ReOrient Forum events are free and open to the public.

ReOrient 2015 also includes two special performances. Music lovers will get a chance to enjoy award-winning Syrian-American soprano Saousan Jarjour’s reimagining of Middle Eastern folk songs on Saturday, October 3, at 2pm. Golden Thread’s Fairytale Players present two of their most popular shows for families, inspired by Iranian and Armenian fables, as a double-bill on Sunday, October 4, at 2pm.

“Nowhere else in the US, and certainly not anywhere in the Middle East, will you be able to see such a diverse collection of plays from and about the Middle East on one stage,”Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian explains. “But at the end of the day, ReOrient is more about us here in the U.S. than a changing Middle East that is thousands of miles away. Bay Area audiences of all backgrounds will find themselves reflected in these intelligent and warm plays.”

Evren Odcikin, Director of Marketing and New Plays, adds: “You know and are passionate about the Middle East? Join us in celebrating and exploring this diverse region and its people. Is all you know about the Middle East from mainstream media? Join us and experience a more complex and layered Middle East, with stories, conversations, and art from the people who live its reality.”

ReOrient, now produced every two years, is Golden Thread’s signature program and is a hugely ambitious undertaking for this intrepid theatre company. Chosen from submissions from all around the world, the festival of eight plays, selected by a committee of artists from around the country, is the artistic centerpiece of ReOrient 2015. This year’s festival will employ and feature more than 75 artists and participants and engage a large team of volunteers. The ReOrient Forum presentations are co-sponsored by many like-minded partners around the world, including Diaspora Arts Connection, Shape-Shift Arts & Saboteur Productions, Theatre Without Borders, Theatre Bay Area, and the University of San Francisco. This impressive network of artists and activists is essential in creating a unique and much-needed space for conversation and exchange with the Middle East, which is a core element of Golden Thread’s mission.

The ReOrient Festival performs in two series in repertory on September 10–October 4, 2015 at Z Below (470 Florida Street, San Francisco). Series A performs Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm. Series B performs Fridays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. The opening nights for the festival are Saturday, September 19, at 8pm (Series A) and Sunday, September 20, at 3pm (Series B). ReOrient Forum features free panel discussions and presentations on October 3–4, 2015 (9am–6pm) at Z Space (450 Florida Street, San Francisco). The Fairytale Players Double Bill for families performs on Sunday, October 4, at 2pmat Z Space (470 Florida Street, San Francisco). The Arabic Folk Songs Recital by Saousan Jarjour performs on Saturday, October 3, at 2pm at Z Space (450 Florida Street, San Francisco).

Golden Thread offers two passes that allows audiences to immerse themselves in the ReOrient experience and save: The All-Access Pass ($60) includes admission to all Festival and Forum events and the Series Pass ($40) includes admission to Series A and B of the Festival. Single tickets for the Festival are $22-$30. Single tickets to the Fairytale Players Double-Bill are $20 and free for children 12 and under. Single tickets to The Arabic Folk Song Recital by Saousan Jarjour are $20. ReOrient Forum panels and presentations are free and open to the public. Registration for ReOrient Forum is recommended. All passes, tickets, and registration are available at

ReOrient Festival and Forum is made possible by generous grants from California Arts Council, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Grants for the Arts, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, and San Francisco Foundation. Golden Thread also wants to acknowledge sponsorsAdobe, BART, and La Méditerranée.

Golden Thread Productions, founded in 1996, is the first American theatre company focused on the Middle East. We produce passionate and provocative plays from and about the region that celebrate the multiplicity of its perspectives and identities. Every play serves as an invitation to discover unexpected connections and engage in deeply moving conversations that last well beyond the life of the play. In our work, we are a developmental catalyst and vibrant artistic home to artists at various stages of their careers, and bring the Middle East to the American stage, creating treasured cultural experiences for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

ReOrient 2015 will turn San Francisco into a mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from and about the Middle East. Featuring plays and artists from Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S., ReOrient 2015 is an artistic celebration and political exploration of this transforming region and its people.

WHAT: Short plays exploring the Middle East presented in two repertory series
WHEN: Sep. 10–Oct. 4, 2015
Series A: Thu & Sat at 8pm; Series B: Fri at 8pm & Sun at 3pm
Opening nights: Saturday, September 19, at 8pm (Series A); Sunday, September 20, at 3pm (Series B)
WHERE: Z Below (470 Florida St, San Francisco)
For info and tickets:

THE PLAYS: U.S. Premiere

Lost Kingdom by Hassan Abdulrazzak, directed by Michael French
When a Lebanese-American FBI agent is called in to interrogate a fallen dictator, a twisted tango ensues that complicates black and white notions of good and evil.

Picking Up the Scent by Yussef El Guindi, directed by Evren Odcikin
Hisham, an archeologist, discovers an ancient perfume bottle in a war zone. As he digs deeper, his poet wife Nisrin questions if it’s worth risking his life for history.

Counting in Sha’ab by Emma Goldman-Sherman, directed by Erin Gilley
Life goes on for Mr. Hattab and a colorful cast of characters from his bustling Baghdad neighborhood despite a bomb going off in front of his grocery store.

Bitterenders by Hannah Khalil, directed by Manijeh Mohamedi
Maha’s Palestinian family shares their East Jerusalem apartment with an Israeli family, until a surprising letter changes everything—or does it?

Ceasefire by Ken Kaissar, directed by Evren Odcikin
Can a ceasefire allow Israeli and Lebanese soldiers patrolling the border to see each other as something other than enemy?

The House by Tala Manassah and Mona Mansour, directed by Sara Razavi
Kamal, a Palestinian-American scientist, and his philosopher daughter Alia put on a play and take an imaginary trip to his childhood home.

Songs of Our Childhood by Nahal Navidar, directed by Sara Razavi
Childhood friends, Mira and Sanaz, work as triage nurses during the Iran-Iraq War. But it’s their ideological battles that threaten the peace inside the hospital.

Turning Tricks by Silva Semerciyan, directed by Erin Gilley
Even slavery has evolved in wealthy and genteel Europe. But the players are not who you would expect.


The Fairytale Players Double-Bill
WHAT: Princess Tamar Rescues Nazar the Brave and 21 Days That Change the Year: Two beloved family-friendly productions, inspired by Iranian and Armenian fairy tales will be presented in one afternoon.
WHEN: Sun, Oct 4, 2015, at 2pm
WHERE: Z Space (450 Florida St, San Francisco)

Arabic Folk Song Recital by Saousan Jarjour
WHAT: Acclaimed Syrian-American soprano presents a repertoire of Middle Eastern folk songs, reimagined with jazzy arrangements.
WHEN: Sat, Oct 3, 2015, at 2pm
WHERE: Z Space (450 Florida St, San Francisco)

WHAT: Join us for provocative conversations by artists, scholars, and activists from around the world. This year’s Forum features UC Davis Professor Sunaina Maira as Keynote Speakers and presents panels on ideas of home and language for Palestinian artists around the world (organized by Theatre Without Borders), the intersection of sexual identity with Middle Eastern performance (organized by Shape-Shift Arts & Saboteur Productions), a multigenerational perspective of Iranian-American theatre (organized by Diaspora Arts Connection), and a panel on the future of Bay Area’s culturally-specific theatre companies (organized by Theatre Bay Area), amongst others.
WHEN: Sat, Oct 3 & Sun, Oct 4
Panels and presentations will take place 9am–6pm each day.
WHERE: Z Space (450 Florida St, San Francisco)
TICKETS: FREE and open to the public

To register and for details, please visit

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'What Do the Women Say' Event Showcases Middle Eastern Women on Stage (March 8)

"What Do the Women Say?" is a wonderful event celebrating International Women's Day and hosted by Golden Thread Productions, America's only theater company dedicated to staging plays from and about the Middle East. The event will showcase the work of Middle Eastern women artists on Friday, March 8 at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, CA. Here is the line-up:

Layla Modirzadeh joins Minneapolis-based playwright, Kathryn Haddad and Bay Area hip hop artist, Tru Bloo in celebrating the poetry and performance of Middle Eastern women artists. Modirzadeh performs her solo-con-puppet comedy, "Lubbock or Leave It!: exploring themes of home and nationalism through satire. Haddad shares excerpts from her futuristic super hero play, "Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior." And commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Iraq Invasion, Tru Bloo performs poetry from the recently published anthology, "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here," a tribute to Baghdad’s famous Bookseller’s Street.

This event is sponsored by WomenArts/Swan Day.

"Lubbock or Leave It!" is the story of Iranian New Yorker Leyla when she accepts a job teaching college in the most conservative town in the US: Lubbock, Texas! Set against a backdrop of American fundamentalism, Leyla and her canine cohort Daisy (played by a hand puppet) learn some hard lessons about xenophobia, nationalism, and dislocation.

"Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior" tells the futuristic story of a homeless Arab American schoolteacher turned superhero. She relives her experiences in an internment camp for Arabs and Muslims as she imagines herself victorious and powerful despite an increasingly hostile and ultra-nationalistic environment that has cast Arabs as enemies of the state.

Edited by San Franciso poet, Beau Beausoleil and Palestinian writer, Deema Shehabi, "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts" Here is a collection of poetry and essays in response to the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. It features Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, Iraq’s preeminent modern poet, in addition to Mahmoud Darwish, Majid Naficy, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Natalie Handal. Local poets Julie Bruck, Dima Hilal, Elmaz Abinader and Deema Shehabi are also featured among others.

For tickets go to

Artists’ Biographies:

Kathryn Haddad is a Lebanese-American writer, teacher, and community organizer. She founded Mizna – one of the few Arab American Arts and literary organizations in the United States where she served as its Artistic and Executive Director for twelve years. Kathryn is a 2004 – 05 recipient of an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship for her work with the Arab American community. As a writer, she has received three Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowships, and has had several plays produced in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, including a staged reading of With Love from Gaza (1992), at Intermedia Arts, The Arab’s in my Head (1994) at Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival, With Love from Ramallah (co-written with Juliana Pegues, produced by Mizna, and staged at Mixed Blood Theater) (2004), and Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior (2011) at Pangea World Theater. Kathryn has worked full time as a public school teacher since 1991.

Leyla Modirzadeh* is an Iranian-American writer, performer, and educator. She has acted in theatres across the country including Wisdom Bridge Theatre, (Chicago), A Contemporary Theatre, The Group Theatre, (Seattle), The Kennedy Center, (DC), and New York Theatre Workshop. Most recently, Lubbock or Leave It! performed in New York City at the Plus One Solo Festival, Dixon Place, and The Here Space. Over the last 17 years, she toured and collaborated with Obie Award winning theatre artist Ping Chong. Her animated and experimental films have been screened at national and international festivals ( She received her BA from UC Berkeley, MFA in Acting from University of Washington, MFA in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, and trained at Second City in Chicago. Her most recent publication is a contributing chapter about documentary theatre in the book Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way published by Routledge Books. *Appears courtesy of Actors Equity

Tru Bloo is a Lebanese-Armenian hip hop-poetry fusion emcee, percussionist, composer, cultural and justice worker. A music prodigy, Tru studied classical guitar and music theory as a young adolescent and won her first poetry slam at age 15. As half of the hip hop duo, NaR (fire, in Arabic), Tru performed at national and international festivals. Experience Tru’s eclectic music and powerful poetry at her official website,

Started in 1909 in the U.S., International Women’s Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

Founded in 1996, Golden Thread Productions is dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities as expressed around the globe. We present alternative perspectives of the Middle East by developing and producing theatrical work that is aesthetically varied and politically and viscerally engaging, while supporting countless Middle Eastern artists in all phases of their careers. Our mission is to make the Middle East a potent presence on the American stage and also to make theatre a treasured cultural experience within Middle Eastern communities. We build cultural bridges by engaging the community in an active dialogue and facilitating collaborations among artists of diverse backgrounds with the aim of creating a world where the common human experience supersedes cultural and political differences.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nov 8 'Arabology' Podcast Ft Interview with Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of 'ReOrient Festival of Short Plays' in San Francisco

The sixth episode of the 3rd Season of 'Arabology' (aired Nov 8, 2012) includes an interview with Torange Yeghiazarian, Founding Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions which is currently staging the ReOrient Festival of Short Plays in San Francisco (in English) which explore the Middle East from November 1–18, 2012. Also includes alternative music from the Arab world accompanied by commentary, in English, by your host DJ Ramzi.

R. Salti (left) with Torange Yeghiazarian at Stanford

Playlist for Arabology Thursday, 8 November 2012 3pm - 5pm DJ: Ramzi S.
Artist/ Track/ Album/ Label
1. El Khalil, Omeima/ Ya Helou/ Ya/ Forward Music
2. Egyptian Project/ Anta Ana/ Paleo Festival Village Du Monde 2012/ Disques Office
3. Samsa/ Nsima (Breath Of Life)/ Alem Jdid (New World)/ Skander Guetari
4. Interview with Torange Yeghiazarian (25 min)/ Arabology/ KZSU
5. Maraka, Aziz/ Ibki (Live)/ Master Copy/ Cd Baby
6. Soultan, Ahmed/ Itim/ Arabic Beat/ Putumayo World Music
7. Ajram, Nancy/ Ya Banat / Super Nancy/ Emi
8. Slimani, Ali/ Lirah/ Arabic Beat/ Putumayo World Music
9. Pangia/ Turkish Delight- 9/8 Drum Solo/ West Of East Vol. 5/ Pangia Vol 5
10. El Mansoury, Hiba / Rima/ Sah El Nom/ Murr Television Lebanon
11. Abu Ghazaleh, Tamer/ 7ob/ Mir'ah/ eka3
12. Aburedwan, Ramzi/ Raja (Return)/ Reflections/ Riverboat Records
13. Broukar/ Mawal/ Paleo Festival Village Du Monde 2012/ Disques Office
14. El Khalil, Omeima/ Ouhibbouka Akthar/ Ya/ Forward Music
15. Khalife, Marcel And Mahmoud Darwish In Damascus/Suqut Al-Qamar/ Nagam Records, Inc.
16. Mashrou' Leila/ Imm El Jacket/ El Hal Romancy/ Mashrou' Leila
17. Zeid & The Wings/ Aasfeh/ Zeid & The Wings/Lebanese Underground

Ramzi Salti's Talk: Healing through Lebanese Music (EPIC Fellows, Stanford Global Studies, September 2020)

Watch full talk at This audio-visual talk by Stanford Lecturer + Arabology program host Dr. Ramzi Salti was pre...