Michael Shayan Brings Solo Show AVAAZ to Olney Theatre Center

Performances begin on March 6, 2024.

By: Feb. 08, 2024
Michael Shayan Brings Solo Show AVAAZ to Olney Theatre Center

Avaaz, a solo show about an Iranian mother's flight from Tehran and her new life as a single mom in “Tehran-geles,” California, written and performed by her son, Michael Shayan, begins its run in Olney Theatre Center's intimate 150-seat Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab on March 6, 2024.

The production is scheduled to run through Sunday, April 7. Tickets are $54 - $90 and are available online at olneytheatre.org/avaaz or at 301-924-3400. Venues for the national tour beginning in the fall will be announced soon.

Shayan is a Harvard-trained writer, performer, and illusionist who was recently named to the prestigious OUT100, Out Magazine's list of the year's most impactful and influential LGBTQ+ people. In 2023 he received an Emmy nomination for his writing on the Emmy-winning Max series The Book of Queer, where he also served as a Consulting Producer. He worked on the Emmy-winning We're Here as well. In addition to Avaaz and his TV work, his new play for Audible, about a group of addicts stuck on a gay cruise from hell called Cruising, will premiere this year. At 13, he was the youngest performer in the history of the Hollywood Magic Castle.

On debuting his solo show in the DC-area, Shayan said, “It feels powerful and surreal to be embodying my mother's story near our nation's capital, particularly at a time of overwhelming anti-immigrant sentiment. Avaaz offers a different narrative and grapples with complex truths in a fabulous, decadent, larger-than-life party on stage. I can't wait to share the magic of ‘Tehran-geles' with audiences everywhere.”

Avaaz is supported by an award-winning creative team, starting with Tony-nominated director Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God) and the Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Borritt (New York, New York and Flying Over Sunset).  Amith Chandrashaker (Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along and A Prayer for the French Republic) is the lighting designer, and UptownSound, a collaborative design team of Noel Nichols, Daniela Hart, and Bailey Trierweiler, creates the sound design. Joshua “Domino” Schwartz, who has received two Emmy Awards for his work on the Max series We're Here, is the costume designer.

Olney Theatre's Artistic Director, Jason Loewith, says, “Introducing Michael and his mother's story to this community - and then communities across the country next season - is the kind of producing I love to do. The heart, humor, and formal inventiveness you'll see in Avaaz celebrates not only Roya's journey from Tehran to “Tehran-geles” but the power of intimate theatrical experiences to inspire, engage, and delight.”

Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel says, “Michael's mother's story echoes the immigrant experience shared by so many, but the play's real urgency stems from her having grown up as a young woman in Iran -- a parallel to the tensions brought to light by the women-led protests we've seen in the last several years. And yet, the play is awash in comedy. Rarely have I ever met someone as feverishly funny as Michael, whose inventiveness for storytelling is matched only by his vulnerability"

About the Play

Avaaz invites you to meet Roya, our fabulous hostess, as she welcomes you into her home to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. She's preparing dinner, but the true feast is the story of her life: beginning in Iran as part of that country's small but ancient Jewish community, her epic journey out of Tehran after the revolution, and the challenges she faces as an immigrant and the single mother of a queer son in "Tehran-geles" (formerly known as Westwood). As a Jew in Iran and an Iranian in America, Roya relies on a heavy dose of humor, both in her storytelling and her survival. Most significantly, Roya is portrayed by her adult son and the author of Avaaz, Michael Shayan, in a solo performance that combines masterful storytelling with a loving tribute