Atlantic Theater Company's announces Middle Eastern MixFest

Atlantic Theater Company's announces Middle Eastern MixFest

Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) will present Middle Eastern MixFest, a series of free readings co-curated by playwrights Mona Mansour and Heather Raffothat will run Wednesday, August 8th through Thursday, August 16th at Atlantic Stage 2 (330 West 16th Street).

This summer, Atlantic will be hosting readings of full-length plays by Abdullah Alkafri translated by Hassan Abdulrazzak, Kareem Fahmy, Hannah Khalil, Mona Mansour & Tala Manassah, and Stav Palti-Negev. In addition to the full-length readings at Middle Eastern MixFest, Atlantic Theater Company will commission Melis Aker, Younis Ali, Sevan K. Greene, and Sanaz Toossi to create short one-acts and present them as readings alongside a short play by Heather Raffo.

Heather Raffo says, "Although the plays pull from diverse communities across the Middle East and North Africa, so many of the artists represent something uniquely American. Atlantic has provided a rare platform to hear these works not as a single representation of a culture, but as a kaleidoscope of plays and artists." Mona Mansour says, "These stories, deeply felt and told in innovative ways, will, I believe, speak to some of the issues at the heart of the experience of the Middle Eastern diaspora." Atlantic Theater Company's Artistic Director Neil Pepe adds, "We are truly excited to be welcoming these outstanding artists to Atlantic and to be collaborating with our friends Heather Raffo and Mona Mansour to curate the festival."


"MEET THE WRITERS" PANEL

Wednesday, August 8 | 5pm


Middle Eastern MixFest will kick-off with a group panel featuring the festival's writers in conversation with Catherine Coray (Program Director of the Lark Play Development Center US-Middle East Playwright Exchange). Learn more about their creative process and what inspires their work.

SALIM SALIM

by Stav Palti-Negev

directed by Kareem Fahmy

Thursday, August 9 | 3pm

When Palestinian Salim Tarek is released from an Israeli prison, the Israeli authorities mistakenly bring him to the Gaza border crossing while his family awaits his return on the other side of the country, in the West Bank. Salim knows that if he enters Gaza, he might never see them again. Stranded on the border, Salim has to find a solution before the Israeli soldiers make a choice for him.

SCENES FROM 70 YEARS

by Hannah Khalil

directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

Friday, August 10 | 3pm

Scenes from 70 Years is a selection of intertwined vignettes telling the story of ordinary Palestinians at a very human level, with mischievous humor. It offers snapshots of the routine of life in the shadow of occupation: we look into an Israeli household with a rebellious pro-Palestinian teenager, join a tediously long queue at an Israeli check point, and get swept into an absurd act of civil disobedience by Palestinian civilians in a desperate attempt to get worldwide media attention.

ONE ACTS

by Melis Aker, Younis Ali, Sevan K. Greene, Heather Raffo and Sanaz Toossi

directed by Sivan Battat and Tracy Cameron Francis

Monday, August 15 | 7pm

Readings of four commissioned one-acts and a short play by Heather Raffo.

THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING

by Kareem Fahmy

based on the novel by Alaa Al Aswany

Tuesday, August 14 | 2pm

Based on the novel that became an international sensation, The Yacoubian Building is set in Cairo, chronicling the lives of Egyptians of different religions, sexual orientations, and class backgrounds. The titular apartment block becomes a microcosm of an Egypt infested with corruption, discrimination, and despair. A love letter to the Middle East, the play conjures an Egypt before the Arab Spring, still on the brink of change, deeply divided but full of hope.

FALLING DOWN THE STAIRS

by Mona Mansour and Tala Manassah

directed by Omar Metwally

Wednesday, August 15 | 7pm

Baghdad, 1975. Invited to teach in a city steeped in the history of great scientific discoveries, hotshot physicist Kamal leaves the Ivy League and finds himself in a surreal landscape colored by revolution, intrigue, deception, and of course, great potential. Caught between the desire to contribute to a burgeoning scientific community and a firm commitment to science as a tool of non-violent liberation, he is entangled between the world as it is, and the world as he wishes it to be.

MRS. GHADA'S PAIN THRESHOLD

by Abdullah Alkafri

translated by Hassan Abdulrazzak

Thursday, August 16 | 7pm

Inspired by the author's admiration for the Damascene women who "push against the edges of all that constrains them - societal norms, religious propriety, family expectations - in subtle and personally significant ways," Mrs. Ghada's Pain Threshold focuses on one such woman who, facing middle age and life as a recently widowed, single woman, unexpectedly meets a man who offers the possibility of a new start. A subtle - almost mysterious - and moving play about coping with the past and trying to find new love.

MIDDLE EASTERN MIXFEST and all of Atlantic's new play and musical development activities are made possible by leadership support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Time Warner Foundation, and The Tow Foundation, with additional funding from the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Barbara Bell Cumming Charitable Trust, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, the John Golden Fund, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Atlantic productions and programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

ATLANTIC STAGE 2 is located at 330 West 16th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues).

Admission is free. Reservations are required. Please visit https://atlantictheater.org/middleeasternmixfest2018/ to RSVP.

For questions email MixFest@atlantictheater.org.

PLAYWRIGHT BIOS:

Hassan Abdulrazzak's plays include Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, 2007; Belvoir St Theatre, 2009; Akvarious productions, 2010), The Prophet (Gate Theatre, 2012), Love, Bombs and Apples (Arcola Theatre, 2016 and UK tour; Golden Thread, San Francisco, 2018) and AndHere I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017 and UK and Middle East tour). His translations include The Confession by Wael Qadour, Jogging by Hanane Hajjali, Baghdad Bathhouse by Jawad Alassadi, Voluntary Work by Laila Soliman and 603 by Imad Farajin. He has contributed to several anthologies including Iraq+100 (Comma Press, 2016) and Don't Panic, I'm Islamic(Saqi Books, 2017). He is the recipient of George Devine, Meyer-Whitworth and Pearson theatre awards as well as the Arab British Centre Award for Culture.

Abdullah Alkafri a playwright and cultural activist, who works as a trainer in topics related to the field of culture with many organizations. A regular participant at conferences and forums on culture and art. He is a founding member and Executive Director of Ettijahat-Independent Culture: a Syrian cultural organization founded in the end of 2011 seeking to play a pivotal role in building a Syrian culture that is dynamic, democratic and diverse, taking into account the challenges experienced by Syrian society, through creating sustainable opportunities for artists, researchers and cultural operators, and enhancing the environment and forms of cultural expression, in addition to integrating creative work with social change. Abdullah is a permanent contributor to international and regional conferences and forums as a researcher and a facilitator. His interests focus first on the main roles that Art and culture can play during times of crises, and second on enabling cultural practices in finding different ways, and opportunities to support artists in spite of challenges such as censorship on freedoms. Abdullah is a director and dramaturge who has collaborated with a number of artists from the Arab region, and the works he participated in were presented in different international platforms. He graduated in Theatrical Studies from the High Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus, in 2004 and completed his Master's study at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, in the same field in 2015. He is currently a PhD Student at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon.

Melis Aker is a writer, actor and musician from Turkey, and will be a NYTW 2050 Playwriting Fellow in the fall. Plays: Field, Awakening (2018 Sundance Theatre Lab final-round, 2018 Berkeley Rep Ground Floor final-round, Lark's 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellowship finalist), performed at the Signature Theatre's New Plays Festival, Golden Thread Productions' New Threads reading series, and the Corkscrew Festival at Paradise Factory; Manar (2017 Columbia@Roundabout finalist, 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award semi-finalist) was at Golden Thread Productions' ReOrient Festival, at LPAC's Rough Draft Festival, and was featured by Silk Road Rising on New Play Exchange; 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter [Part I] (Lark's 2018 Jerome New York Fellowship finalist) received a Noor Highlight series reading; Azul, Otra Vez [Blue, Revisited] was workshopped at NYTW and BRICLab. Acting (selected): "The Blacklist: Redemption" (NBC), "SENECA" (feature film) by Armando Riesco and Jason Chaet, Love in Afghanistan (Arena Stage & Roundabout), Daybreak (Pan Asian Rep), Opium(New Dramatists), House of Joy (Atlantic), Tear A Root From the Earth (Kennedy Center & New Ohio), We Live in Cairo (New World Stages). Melis recently gave a TEDx Talk in Ankara, and works as Ayad Akhtar's assistant. Training/Rep: MFA Playwriting (Columbia), Acting (RADA), BA Drama & Philosophy (Tufts). Meg Pantera Agency (acting) | www.melisaker.com

Younis Ali is a Yemeni American poet and playwright. He's been writing both in Yemen and the U.S for the last ten years. His work includes Saah Alhida, an Arabic comedy performed in Yemen in 2013, and Center Aisle, winner of Brooklyn College's Ottilie Grebanier Drama Award.

Kareem Fahmy is a Canadian-born playwright and director of Egyptian descent. His plays, which include The In-Between and Pareidolia, have been developed with Noor Theatre, Working Theater, The Lark, Rising Circle Theater Collective, and Fault Line Theatre. The Yacoubian Building was previously developed at The Drama League and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Kareem has directed a number of world premieres including Sevan K. Greene's This Time (Rising Circle, New York Times Critics' Pick), James Scruggs's 3/Fifths(3LD, New York Times 5 Must-See Shows), Victor Lesniewski's Couriers and Contrabands(TBG Theatre), Nikkole Salter's Indian Head (Luna Stage), and Adam Kraar's Alternating Currents (Working Theatre). He is a founder of Maia Directors, a consulting group for organizations and artists engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect. MFA: Columbia University. www.kareemfahmy.com

Sevan K. Greene is an award-winning NYC and London-based writer and actor. He has worked in NYC with The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, The New Group, The Culture Project, New York Stage and Film, New York Musical Theatre Festival, and in London with The Bush Theatre, Old Vic Labs, Arcola Theatre, Theatre503, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Tamasha, Rich Mix, and The Shubbak Festival. He is an alumnus of The Public Theater's Emerging Writing Group, Rising Circle's inaugural INKTank Lab, and The Bush Theater's Inaugural Emerging Writers Group. He has been shortlisted and a finalist for the Princess Grace Award, the O'Neill Playwriting Festival, the Saroyan Social Justice/Human Rights Playwriting Award, Papatango Playwriting Prize, William Saroyan Playwriting Prize, PlayPenn New Writing Lab, and the Sundance Theatre Lab. www.sevangreene.com

Hannah Khalil A writer of Palestinian-Irish heritage, Hannah's stage plays include: the critically acclaimed Scenes from 68* Years, which was shortlisted for the 2017 James Tait Black award and about which the Daily Telegraph said. "confirms Khalil as a dramatist of compelling potential" (Arcola Theatre, London, 2016); The Scar Test ("Political theatre at its best" - Soho Theatre, London); Bitterenders (winner Sandpit Arts' Bulbul 2013, performed at Golden Thread Theatre's ReOrient Festival, San Francisco, 2015); and Plan D (Tristan Bates Theatre, Meyer Whitworth Award nominee). Hannah was the Bush Theatre London's writer on attachment in 2016/17 as part of Project 2036. She was also received the Arab British Centre's Award for Culture in 2017. Hannah is currently under commission to the National Theatre of Scotland, Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Tala Jamal Manassah is a national leader in the fields of school-based social and emotional learning, restorative practices, and racial equity. She serves as Deputy Executive Director of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, where she has led the development and rapid expansion of Restore360. Restore360 is implemented in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and is the largest roll-out of school-based restorative practices in the nation's history, having reached over 8,000 educators and 45,000 young people to date. Presently, she and her team are spending most of their time grappling with the question of how best to support schools in improving their culture by paying special attention to advancing integrationist and anti-racist climates. Through a large Investing in Innovation (i3) grant that was one of 15 selected out a pool of 385 "highly rated" proposals, Manassah and her team are creating and testing a whole school racial equity transformation model in 21 laboratory schools. Manassah served on Mayor De Blasio's Commission on School Climate and Culture, and on Chancellor Carmen Farina's advisory council on social and emotional learning.As a playwright, Manassah has co-written, with Mona Mansour, The House, commissioned by NYC's Noor Theater and the American Institute for Architecture and read as part of their Building A New series in March 2012; The Letter, a short play that premiered in November 2012 in San Francisco as part of Golden Thread's ReOrient Festival; and After, a full-length play that was produced at Queens College in 2013. Manassah and Mansour were awarded a residency at Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor in 2013 to develop a musical play calledThe Wife. Their play Dressing is part of Facing Our Truths: Short Plays about Trayvon, Race and Privilege, a collection of plays commissioned by the New Black Festival that has presented at various theaters around the U.S., including The Public, the Goodman, Center Theatre Group, and Baltimore Center Stage. Most recently, they were given an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan commission to write Falling Down the Stairs, a play about 1970s Iraq. Manassah holds an AB and AM from the University of Chicago.

Mona Mansour's play We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War, directed by Evren Odcikin, will premiere at SF's Golden Thread in winter 2018. The Vagrant Trilogy is currently running at Mosaic Theater through July 1. Of the trilogy: The Hour of Feeling (dir. Mark Wing-Davey) premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and a new Arabic translation was presented at NYU Abu Dhabi, as part of its Arab Voices Festival in 2016; Urge for Goingreceived productions at The Public Theater (dir. Hal Brooks) and Golden Thread (dir. Odcikin); The Vagrant was commissioned by The Public and workshopped at the 2013 Sundance Theater Institute. The Way West: Labyrinth (dir. Mimi O'Donnell); Village Theater (dir. Christina Myatt); Steppenwolf (dir. Amy Morton); and Marin Theatre Company (dir. Hayley Finn). Other credits: Unseen, Gift Theater (dir. Maureen Payne-Hahner); and In the Open, for Waterwell, directed by James Dean Palmer. Mona is a member of New Dramatists and was a member of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group. With Tala Manassah she has written Falling Down the Stairs, an EST/Sloan commission. Their play Dressing is part of Facing Our Truths: Short Plays About Trayvon, Race and Privilege, commissioned by the New Black Festival. Commissions include Playwrights Horizons, Old Globe Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "American Revolutions." 2012 Whiting Award. 2014 Middle East America Playwright Award, monamansour.com

Stav Palti-Negev is an NYC-based Israeli playwright. She is a 2017 alumna of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group, a 2015 / 2017 HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts Artist Grant recipient, and a 2016 Asylum Arts development grant recipient. Her play Salim Salim, which she wrote and directed, received the Best Play award at the 2014 Israel Fringe Theater Festival and a two-year run at Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv, 2015 - 2017. Her play Elsewhere: A Play for an Audience of One premiered at the Israel Fringe Theater Festival in October 2016 and received a staged reading at The Public Theater (NYC) in June 2017. Her work has been developed through The Public Theater, The Flea Theater, Red Theater, The Studio Theater, Beer Sheva Fringe Theater, Asylum Arts, Israel International Exposure, and Galei Tzahal Radio, among others. Produced: Israel Fringe Theater Festival (Acco), Tmuna Theater (Tel-Aviv), Nazareth Theater. Currently in development: a virtual reality (VR) adaption of the play Elsewhere, in collaboration with The Public Theater; Inventing America, an augmented reality (AR) experience; and The Escape, a script for a new film to be shot in Warsaw, Poland.

Heather Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress whose work has been seen off Broadway, Off-West End in regional theater, and in film. She is the author and solo performer of the play 9 Parts of Desire (Lucille Lortel award, Susan Smith Blackburn commendation, Drama League, OCC, Helen Hayes nominations), which The New Yorker called "an example of how art can remake the world." The play was first produced in London's ff-West End where critics hailed it as one of the five best plays in London. Its Off-Broadway premiere ran for nine sold-out months and was a critic's pick for over -24 weeks in a row. Since 2005, 9 Parts of Desire has been produced across the U.S. and was one of the top five most-produced plays of the 2007-2008 American theater season. It has had international productions in over a dozen countries with current productions in Greece, Hungary and Sweden. Heather is the librettist for the opera Fallujah, which was developed as part of Kennedy Center's International Theater Festival; it then received its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in March 2016 and opened at New York City Opera later that year. A film was made of both the opera as well as a documentary titled Fallujah: Art, Healing and PTSD. Heather's newest play, Noura, recently won Williamstown's prestigious Weissberger Award and is on the Kilroy's List. Noura had its world premiere at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. before moving to Abu Dhabi in the spring of this year. Its New York premiere will be at Playwrights Horizons in their forthcoming 2018/19 season. Raffo's work has been developed at the Kennedy Center, McCarter, The Public, Epic Theater Ensemble, Arena Stage, Noor Theater, Vancouver City Opera, The Arab American National Museum, and at Georgetown's Lab for Global Performance and Politics. She currently has commissions from the McCarter Theater and Williamstown and is the recipient of multiple grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use theater as a means of bridge-building between her Eastern and Western cultures. Her work has taken her to The Aspen Ideas Festival, London's House of Commons, The U.S. Islamic World Forum and into hundreds of classrooms across our nation and internationally.

Sanaz Toossi is an Iranian-American playwright from Orange County, CA. Her plays include English and Soraya. She holds an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Sanaz is a proud child of Iranian immigrants and explores the narratives of immigrants-before-they-were-immigrants.

DIRECTOR BIOS:

Sivan Battat is a theatre director and teaching artist focused on new play and musical development and community-based theater. Sivan recently directed Unstoppable, a new rock musical based on and performed by students from Haven Academy in the South Bronx. She is collaborating on several new musicals, including East o', West o'! by Michelle J. Rodriguez, which Sivan directed the NYC premiere of at Ars Nova's ANTFest 2017. Sivan has developed work with NYTW, MCC, the Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa, Studio Theatre, and Mosaic Theatre, among others. Select additional credits include: School Girls (asst: Rebecca Taichman, MCC), On the Shore of the Wide World (asst: Neil Pepe, Atlantic), Animal (asst: GT Upchurch, Atlantic), King Charles III (associate: David Muse, ACT/Seattle Rep/STC). Sivan is a member of the Mizrahi Caucus with Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, organizing political actions and leading workshops in NYC. sivanbattat.com

Tracy Cameron Francis is a first-generation Egyptian-American director who has directed and developed work with HERE, Red Bull Theatre, NYTW, Williamstown Theatre Festival, NY Arab American Comedy Festival, Pen World Voices Fest, NY International Fringe Festival, LaMama Culture Hub, Center for Performance Research, and Alwan For the Arts. Internationally with Ubumuntu Arts Fest (Rwanda), Falaki Theatre (Egypt), LaMama Umbria (Italy) and regionally with T.B.A. festival, Portland Center Stage, and Boom Arts. TCG 2017 Rising Leader of Color. Member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, core member of Theatre Without Borders and associate member of SDC. BA Middle Eastern Studies and Theatre Arts, Fordham. www.tracyfrancis.com

Omar Metwally is an actor and director. He can currently be seen as Vik on Showtime's The Affair. Recent theater credits include Guards at the Taj (Obie Award; Atlantic Theater); How to Transcend a Happy Marriage (Lincoln Center Theater); As You Like It, The Fever Chart (The Public Theater); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); and Beast on the Moon (Century Center). He received Tony and OCC nominations for his work in Sixteen Wounded on Broadway. Regional credits include American Hero (Williamstown Theatre Festival), as well as work with The Long Wharf Theatre, The American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Campo Santo, and others. Film credits include Rendition (Chopard Trophy, Cannes Film Festival), Non-Stop, Munich, Miral, Complete Unknown, and the forthcoming Breakable You, among others. Other TV credits include "Mr. Robot," "The Slap," "Dig," "Fringe," "The Good Wife," "Grey's Anatomy," "Virtuality" and "Harry's Law." He received an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Pirronne Yousefzadeh has directed and developed new work at The Public/Joe's Pub, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Ars Nova, Soho Rep, New Georges, Partial Comfort Productions, Noor Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, InterAct Theatre Company, Golden Thread Productions, and Hangar Theatre, among others. She is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, New Georges Affiliated Artist, a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Resident Director at Colt Coeur, a recipient of SDC's Denham Fellowship and Williamstown's Sagal Fellowship, and an alumna of the 2050 Fellowship at NYTW, Drama League Directors Project, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She currently serves on the NYU faculty, and is a frequent guest director there, as well as at Columbia, Juilliard, Fordham, and Yale School of Drama. Pirronne is a founding member of Maia Directors, a consulting group for artists and organizations engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. Upcoming projects include A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Once (Pioneer Theatre Company), and The Royale by Marco Ramirez (Kitchen Theatre Company/Geva Theatre Center). MFA, Columbia University. Member, SDC. www.pirronne.com; www.maiadirectors.com


Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) an award-winning Off-Broadway theater dedicated to producing great plays simply and truthfully while utilizing an artistic ensemble. At Atlantic, we believe that the story of a play and the intent of its playwright are at the core of the creative process. The plays in our repertory, from both new and established playwrights, are boldly interpreted by today's finest theater artists and resonate with contemporary audiences. Since its inception, Atlantic has produced more than 150 plays including Tony Award-winning productions of The Band's Visit (David Yazbek, Itamar Moses), now playing on Broadway; Spring Awakening (Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh); Pulitzer Prize recipient Between Riverside and Crazy (Stephen Adly Guirgis); New York Drama Critics' Circle winner for Best New Play The Night Alive (Conor McPherson); and New York Drama Critics' Circle winner for Best Foreign Play Hangmen (Martin McDonagh); among many others! Atlantic has garnered 22 Tony Awards, 25 Obie Awards, 21 Lucille Lortel Awards, 11 Drama Desk Awards, 8 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 5 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, 4 Theater World Awards, 4 Drama League Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Alongside being an award-winning producing organization, we've also been teaching theater since our inception. The internationally-acclaimed Atlantic Acting School has the only conservatory program in the world that offers in-depth training in co-Founders David Mamet and William H. Macy's unique and influential approach to acting: Practical Aesthetics, the Atlantic Technique. Our school's mission is to ensure that each graduate masters the essential analytical and physical disciplines of acting and to empower every student with skills necessary for success in the profession. We also bring theater into the classroom through robust arts education initiatives that serve 4,000 public school students each year.

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