World Premiere of SHESH YAK Begins at Rattlestick Next Month

Rattlestick Playwrights and LaiLou Productions have announced that the world premiere of Shesh Yak, written by Laith Nakli and directed by Bruce McCarty, will begin previews Thursday, January 15, 2015 at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, west of Seventh Avenue South. The official opening night is set for Thursday, January 29, 2015. The production will play through Sunday, February 22, 2015.

In Shesh Yak, it's spring of 2011, five weeks into the civil uprising in Syria. Jameel, a 30-something-year-old Syrian-American writer is in his New York apartment waiting for a houseguest to arrive from DC. An older Syrian ex-patriot and a leader in the anti-Syrian government movement, Haytham, has come to New York on business. Jameel is overwhelmed with excitement to have someone of Haytham's stature in his home and the two share stories from their younger days in Syria. An unclear tension arises, leading them into a re-examination of their lives and a revelation of how their different pasts have intertwined and forced them into choices that neither ever imagined.

Shesh Yak stars Zarif Kabier and Laith Nakli.

The set design for Shesh Yak is by John McDermott; costume design is by Lisa Renee Jordan; lighting design is by Peter West; sound design is by Janie Bullard. The production manager is Jeremy Duncan Pape and the production stage manager is Michal Mendelson.

Laith Nakli (Playwright/Haytham)is a Syrian-British actor/writer who began his acting career 14 years ago in NYC. He graduated from the prestigious William Esper Studio Professional Actor Training Program and quickly became one of the most sought after Arabic-speaking actors in the US. Laith made his stage debut in War at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Company. Other credits include Cry of the Reed (Huntington), Inana (Denver Center), Aftermath (NYTW), Lidless (Page 73), and Food & Fadwa (NYTW). Over the years, he has worked with many acclaimed directors in film, television and on stage. He portrayed Nasim in Thomas McCarthy's award-winning film The Visitor which premiered at Sundance. He also co-starred in the award-winning film Arranged. Co-Director, Stefan Schaffer, later wrote a leading role with Laith in mind for My Last Day Without You with Nicole Behari and Ken Duken. Other film credits include Recalled, directed by Mike Connors and Sam & Amira which recently premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival to rave reviews. Laith's credits in TV include such series such as "The Blacklist" (recurring guest), "I Just Want My Pants Back," "Without a Trace," "Traveler,""Third Watch," "The Sopranos,""Law & Order: Criminal Intent,"and"Rescue Me," among others. As a writer, Laith has written many short pieces for the Annual Arab American Comedy Festival, which recently celebrated its 9th year. He has also written 11 screenplays, including Wudu, which is slated to begin production in 2015. Finally, he is a founding member of the sketch comedy troupe "Sketchy Arabs," which produces short videos and presents live comedy.

Bruce McCarty (Director) Recent directing credits include: A Betrothal by Lanford Wilson for "Playing on Air," a public radio series of plays performed for radio in front of a live audience; Running Into Me, a one-woman show written and performed by Vickie Tanner; The Parts I've Played, a cabaret starring Dana Reeve, which he also co-wrote with Ms. Reeve; Major Zero by Dean Cushman; the premieres of White Men With Afros and They All Choose Dancing, two short plays by Adam Rapp. He participated in the 2008 Sundance Directors Lab. As an actor he was most recently seen on Broadway as "Michael" in God of Carnage; "Adrian" in the Westport Playhouse production of Arthur Miller's The Archbishop's Ceiling, directed by Gregory Mosher; The Dew Point by Neena Beeber, directed by William Carden; and According to Goldman by Bruce Graham, directed by Pamela Berlin (Barrymore Award nomination for Leading Actor). He appeared as "Robbie the genius homeless man" in The Subway Plays at HB Playwrights Foundation. On Broadway, he appeared as "MacMurphy" when he filled in for Gary Sinise in the Steppenwolf production of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, directed by Terry Kinney. Other Broadway: As Is. National Tour: Mass Appeal. As a long time member of the now gone Circle Repertory Company he has performed extensively Off-Broadway with both the Company and others, including: Another Vermeer by Bruce Robinson; Endpapers by Thomas McCormack; The Destiny of Me by Larry Kramer, directed by Marshall W. Mason; Balm In Gilead by Lanford Wilson, directed by John Malkovich; Oregon by Peter Hedges, directed by Joe Mantello; Borderlines; Raft of the Medusa; The Moundbuilders; Moe's Lucky Seven by Marlene Meyer; Babylon Gardens;and many more. Regional: Two Days by Donald Margulies, directed by Lisa Peterson; Coastline by Alice Tuan, directed by Dan Bonnell; The Woolgatherer directed by Joe Brancato; Belmont Ave.Social Club; End of Summer,directed by Kent Paul; and more. Film: The Crow: Salvation; Love Potion No. 9; Blowback; How To Be Louise; True Colors; Tortilla Soup; Ripe; Shut Yer Mouth. He was "Micah Simms" in the Sam Raimi-John McNamara ABC series "Spy Game."Other TV: "Law & Order," "The Practice," "Profiler," "Raising Kate," "Judging Amy," "Ally McBeal," "Chicago Hope," "Mercy Point," and others. He is a long time member of the William Esper Studio. He is currently a co-Artistic Director with Tanya Berezin for the plays of the estate of Lanford Wilson.

Zarif Kabier (Jameel) is thrilled to be making his Rattlestick and NYC debut in Shesh-Yak. Regional Theatre: Cleveland Playhouse, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, San Jose Rep, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Golden Thread Theatre, and Butterfield 8 Theatre Company. Film & TV: "Madam Secretary," "Person of Interest," "Touch, "Weeds," voice-over for films Rosewater & Max and lead role in Cellular (award winning short-film). He received his MFA in acting from Columbia University and attended Diablo Valley College for Theatre Studies prior to that. Zarif is a proud member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA.

Shesh Yak playsSunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7pm, and Friday and Saturday at 8pm, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, west of Seventh Avenue South. Tickets may be purchased at or by phoning OvationTix at 866.811.4111. Tickets are $30, premium tickets are $35, student tickets are $5 and theater artist and under-30 tickets are $10. Prices and performance schedule are subject to change. Please refer to the Rattlestick website for the most up-to-date information.

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater is an award-winning company which has produced over sixty world premieres in the past nineteen seasons and was the recipient of the 2007 Ross Wetzsteon Memorial OBIE Award for developing new and innovative work. Previous plays include Two Boys in a Bed, Message to Michael, Carpool, Volunteer Man, A Trip to the Beach, Ascendancy, Stuck, Vick's Boy, The Messenger, Saved or Destroyed, Neil's Garden, My Special Friend, Faster, Bliss, St. Crispin's Day, Where We're Born, Five Flights, Boise, Finer Noble Gases, That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play, God Hates The Irish: The Ballad of Armless Johnny, Miss Julie, Acts of Mercy: passion-play, Cagelove, It Goes Without Saying, Dark Matters, Stay, American Sligo, Rag and Bone, War, Geometry of Fire, The Amish Project, Killers and Other Family, Post No Bills, Blind, Little Doc, underneathmybed, There Are No More Big Secrets, The Hallway Trilogy, Carson McCullers Talks About Love, The Wood, Asuncion, Horsedreams, Yosemite, Massacre (Sing to Your Children), 3C, Through the Yellow Hour, A Summer Day, The Revisionist starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jesse Eisenberg, Buyer & Cellar (2013 Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance), Basilica, Charles Ives Take Me Home, One Night..., How to Make Friends and then Kill Them, The Correspondent, Ode to Joy, The Few, A FABLE, the Off-Broadway GLAAD Award-nominated hit The Last Sunday in June, Craig Wright's The Pavilion (Drama Desk nominee-Outstanding Play of 2005) and Lady (Drama Desk nominee-Outstanding Play of 2008), The Aliens by Annie Baker (2010 Obie Award winner for Best New American Play), as well as The Hilltown Plays (2014 OBIE Award).

LaiLou Productions is a film, television and theater production company based in NYC. Syrian-British writer and actor, Laith Nakli, and Iranian-American producer, Nilou Safinya, founded the company to tell often-experienced but not-so-often told stories of universal humanity. Along with Shesh Yak, LAILOU also has two feature films in development, The Syrian and Wudu, as well as a comedic TV series. To produce its inaugural play in NYC, LAILOU is honored to be partnering with the multi-award winning and well-renowned Off-Broadway company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater during its 20th Anniversary Season. LAILOU believes that theatre has a unique ability in the arts to encourage real connections and promote empathy. With this play, we hope to shift some perspectives of what it means to be Syrian, to open some minds and to elicit productive dialogue.

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