FOOD AND FADWA Begins Previews at New York Theatre Workshop Tonight, 5/18


New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) Artistic Director James C. Nicola and Managing Director William Russo and Noor Theatre Artistic Director Lameece Isaaq, Executive Director Maha Chehlaoui, and Producing Director Nancy Vitale have announced that the world premiere of Food and Fadwa, written by Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader, and directed by Shana Gold, begins performances tonight, Friday, May 18, 2012, at NYTW, 79 East 4 Street, between Bowery and Second Avenue. The opening night is scheduled for Thursday, June 7. Food and Fadwa is a co-production with Noor Theatre, a company-in-residence at New York Theatre Workshop.

Meet Fadwa Faranesh, an unmarried, 30-something Palestinian woman living in Bethlehem in the politically volatile West Bank. Known for her delectable cooking and deep-seated sense of duty to her family and aging father, our kitchen maven insists on continuing the preparations for the wedding of her younger sister despite constraints of daily life under occupation. In Food and Fadwa politics blend with family tensions to create a sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking meal of a play that melds the fight a Palestinian family wages to hold onto its traditional culture with its need to celebrate love, joy, and hope.

The cast of Food and Fadwa is Maha Chehlaoui (Aftermath), Nasser Faris (“Homeland”), Lameece Issaq (The Black Eyed), Kathryn Kates (Midlife Crisis), Arian Moayed (Tony nominee for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire), and Haaz Sleiman (Oscar-nominated The Visitor, “Nurse Jackie”).

Food and Fadwa marks the first major production in the collaboration between New York Theatre Workshop and Noor Theatre. The partnership is part of NYTW’s Companies-in-Residence program that provides support and resources to further the growth and development of emerging theatre companies.

Artistic Director James C. Nicola says, “We approach the premiere of Food and Fadwa with a great deal of pride, humility, and joy. Five years in the making, the play’s production represents not just the arrival of a new writing voice in Lameece and Jake, but also the emergence of a New Theatre Company that makes new work from a Middle Eastern-American perspective. NYTW has worked closely throughout that time in supporting both the play and the company coming to blossom.”

“Noor is pleased to birth our first full production with our friends at NYTW,” says Noor Artistic Director and co-author Lameece Isaaq. “As long-time supporters of Food and Fadwa, their guidance to us as individual artists and producers has been invaluable for the past few years. We look forward to exploring these exciting new voices with NYTW for years to come.”

The scenic design for Food and Fadwa is by Andromache Chalfant; costume design is by Gabriel Berry; lighting design is by Japhy Weideman; sound design is by Jane Shaw; original music is by Jane Shaw, Amir ElSaffar and George Ziadeh; music consultation is by George Ziadeh and Amir ElSaffar; production stage manager is Lindsey Turtletaub.

Lameece Issaq as an actor has appeared in The Fever Chart, The Public Theatre; The Black Eyed, New York Theatre Workshop; Girl Blog From Iraq: Baghdad Burning, Barrow Street Theater/Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Stage Theater Award Nomination, Outstanding Ensemble); Stuff Happens, Public Theater (Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble); Cymbeline, The Vineyard Playhouse; Adventures of Perseus, McCarter Theatre. As a playwright her work includes“A” Date, Samia’s Cup, Neighborhood Nightly News (The New York Arab American Comedy Festival); Nooha’s List, part of Motherhood Outloud (Hartford Stage, The Geffen and Primary Stages); Food and Fadwa, 2011 recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. Artistic Director of Noor Theatre, dedicated to supporting, developing and presenting the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent. MFA University of Texas, Austin. Member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, The Dramatists Guild, and AEA.

Jacob Kader has written and directed two short films, Quarter Magic and Parade of Horribles, and has served as a producer/assistant director on several others. His feature screenplay, Small Victories, was selected for the 2009 RAWI Screenwriter’s Lab (RoyAl Jordan Film Commission/Sundance Institute), and also received faculty honors at the 2009 Columbia University Film Festival. He has written and performed improv and stand-up comedy, and acted in the 2004 and 2006 Arab-American Comedy Festivals. He has several short and full-length projects in development. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Shana Gold. Off-Broadway: Goldor and Mythyka (New Georges), At the Pole (Urban Stages), Public Theater, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Clubbed Thumb, MCC, Ensemble Studio Theatre, MTC. Regional: Hakawatiyeh (The Kennedy Center), The Nature of Mutation (Southwestern Rep), Reasons to be Pretty (Theatre Squared), Circumference of a Squirrel (Zachary Scott Theatre Center; Winner of the Austin Critics Table Award for Best Play). Education: MFA Brooklyn College (Directing). Member: LCT Directors Lab, Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab, New Georges Affiliated Artist. Upcoming: In the Crossing (Culture Project).

Maha Chehlaoui serves as Noor Theatre’s executive director and was last seen at NYTW in Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s Aftermath. Chehlaoui has also performed in Betrayed at The Culture Project, Peer Gynt atthe Guthrie, Girl Blog from Iraq: Baghdad Burning at theBarrow Street Theater/Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Taming of the Shrew at La Mama.

Nasser Faris was most recently seen on “Homeland.” He co-starred in the feature film AmericanEast (Best Picture at 2008 Madrid International Film Festival and First Time Film Festival in Los Angeles). Other credits include “24,” “The Unit,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “The Shield,” “NYPD Blue,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” House of Sand and Fog, Jarhead, and Ocean’s Twelve. Recent stage credits include: world premiere of Benedictus in San Francisco and Los Angeles; Akhmed in Moscow Arts Theatre’s The Shelter at Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.

Kathryn Kates was last seen at the Canal Park Playhouse in Inadmissible. Other theatre credits include Herman Kline’s Midlife Crisis, Gray Matters, Balaton, In the Schoolyard and Progress. Kates has guest starred on “Pan Am,” “Law & Order,” “Rescue Me,” and “Seinfeld.”

Arian Moayed received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the acclaimed play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway last season. Moayed’s off-Broadway credits include Naomi Wallace’s Fever Chart, Queens Blvd at Signature Theatre, American Pilot at MTC and directed by Lynne Meadow, Jeff Daniels’ Apartment 3A, Kite Runner and Homebody/Kabul at BAM and his TV credits include MONY , White Collar, Law & Orders and Six Degrees.

Heather Raffo is best known for her solo show 9 Parts of Desire which won a Lucille Lortel Award for best solo show as well as an Outer Critics’ Circle nomination and a Drama League nomination for outstanding performance. Other acting credits include Palace of the End with Epic Theater Center (Drama League nomination), In Darfur at The Public Theater, Over The River and Through the Woods, the off-Broadway productions/national tours of Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Rivals all with The Acting Company.

Haaz Sleiman co-starred in the Showtime series “Nurse Jackie” as Mohammed De La Cruz and in the Oscar-nominated film The Visitor. Sleiman’s other credits include “CSI: Miami,” “Nikita,” “ER,” “The Promise,” and “24.”

New York Theatre Workshop, now celebrating its 29th season, is a leading voice in the world of Off-Broadway and within the theatre community in New York and around the world. NYTW has emerged as a premiere incubator of important new theatre, honoring its mission to explore perspectives on our collective history and respond to the events and institutions that shape our lives. In addition, NYTW is known for its innovative adaptations of classic repertory. Each season, from its home in New York's East Village neighborhood, NYTW presents three to five new productions, over 80 readings, and numerous workshop productions, for over 45,000 audience members.

NYTW’s acclaimed productions of Once and Peter and the Starcatcher are currently enjoying Broadway runs, having garnered 20 Tony Award nominations, and Rent, which premiered at NYTW, is currently playing an off-Broadway revival. NYTW supports artists in all stages of their careers by maintaining a series of workshop programs including work-in-progress readings, summer residencies, and minority artist fellowships. In 1991, NYTW received an OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement and in 2000 was designated to be part of the Leading National Theatres Program by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Noor Theatre is dedicated to supporting, developing and presenting the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent. Meaning “light” in Arabic and Farsi, Noor illuminates these diverse perspectives to foster greater understanding and diversify America’s rich theatrical tapestry. The company was founded in 2010.

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