Noor Theatre Announces Heather Raffo, Sylvia Khoury, And Sahar Jahani As Part Of The Second Pop Collab COHORT

By: May. 15, 2020

Writers Sahar Jahani (Ramy, 13 Reasons Why, Just One Night), Sylvia Khoury (Selling Kabul, Power Strip, Against the Hillside), and Heather Raffo (Noura, 9 Parts of Desire) will comprise Noor Theatre's second Artists Advancing Cultural Change Cohort in partnership with Pop Culture Collaborative to develop a new piece in a medium of their choice.

As part of this program, each artist will create work that reflects and responds to key ideas and narratives swirling at the center of contemporary American culture through their own specific Middle Eastern lenses. Noor is thrilled to be part of Pop Culture Collaborative's mission to drive cultural and narrative change in the United States, and to create a pipeline whereby our community's work is shared with mass audiences.

Sahar Jahani is a first generation Iranian-American writer/director raised in Los Angeles. She earned a BA in Film & Media Studies and Literary Journalism from UC Irvine and an MFA in Film and Television Screenwriting from Stephens College. Sahar worked in scripted development at YouTube Originals before transitioning to the writers room on the Golden Globe winning Hulu/A24 series Ramy. In 2018, Sahar was selected to participate in the Film Independent Project Involve Program where she wrote and directed Just One Night, a short film that premiered at the LA Film Festival and has gone on to several other festivals around the world. Her original pilot, Uncovered, was awarded the 2019 MACRO Episodic Lab Grant and is in development with Executive Producer Eva Longoria. Most recently, Sahar was a writer on 13 Reasons Why (S4, Netflix) and is currently adapting the novel, Ayesha at Last, for Pascal Pictures. This past year, she was listed as one of Hollywood's top new writers on the Tracking Board's Young and Hungry list.

Sylvia Khoury is a New York-born writer of French and Lebanese descent. Her plays include Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons, Williamstown Theater Festival), Power Strip (LCT3), Against the Hillside (Ensemble Studio Theater) and The Place Women Go. She is currently under commission from Lincoln Center and Williamstown Theater Festival. Awards include the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and Jay Harris Commission and a Citation of Excellence from the Laurents/Hatcher Awards. She is a member of EST/Youngblood and a previous member of the 2018-2019 Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop at The Lark and the 2016-2018 WP Lab. Her plays have been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Williamstown Theater Festival, Eugene O'Neill Playwrights' Conference, Roundabout Theater Underground, Lark Playwrights' Week, EST/Youngblood, and WP Theater. She holds a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the New School for Drama. She is a fourth-year student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Heather Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress whose work has been seen Off-Broadway, off West End, in regional theatres and in film. An American with Iraqi roots, her plays have been hailed by The New Yorker as "an example of how art can remake the world". Raffo is the author and performer of Noura (Weissberger Award, Helen Hayes Award for Best Original New Play), which premiered in D.C. before moving to Abu Dhabi, Cairo, NYC and theatres across the nation, and 9 Parts of Desire (Lucille Lortel Award, Blackburn commendation) which ran Off-Broadway for nine months and has played across the U.S. and internationally for over a decade. Raffo's libretto for the opera FALLUJAH was part of the Kennedy Center's International Theater Festival, received its world premiere at Long Beach Opera and opened at New York City Opera in 2016. A film of the opera aired on PBS accompanied by a documentary titled Fallujah: Art, Healing and PTSD.

Noor Theatre Is An Obie-Winning Company Dedicated To Supporting, Developing And Producing The Work Of Theatre Artists Of Middle Eastern Descent.

Our programming supports work at different stages of development, whether early drafts of new plays or world premiere productions. Through our Commissioning Initiative, Highlight Reading Series, Co-presentation Partnerships with universities and other organizations, 48 Hour Forum, and Premiere Productions, we aim to create exceptional work that transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to all people. Noor Theatre is a Company-In-Residence at New York Theatre Workshop.

Pop Culture Collaborative is a philanthropic resource and funder learning community that uses grantmaking, convening, narrative strategy, and research to transform the narrative landscape around people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and Native people-especially those who are women, queer, transgender, and/or disabled. The Collaborative believes there is an opportunity-and that philanthropy has a responsibility-to build a field capable of shaping popular culture to reflect the complexity of the American people and make a just and pluralistic future feel real, desirable, and inevitable. Through partnerships between the social justice sector and the pop culture industries, the Collaborative believes activists, artists, and philanthropists can encourage mass audiences to reckon with the past and rewrite the story of our nation's future.