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Golden Thread Tells Tale of Resilience in THE MOST DANGEROUS HIGHWAY IN THE WORLD

Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company to focus on the Middle East, continues its 20th Anniversary Season with the world premiere of the poetic and heartwarming The Most Dangerous Highway in the World by Kevin Artigue, directed by Evren Odcikin, Director of Marketing and New Plays.

The play follows a fearless eight-year old businessman, who calls himself Traffic and makes his living directing traffic on the treacherous highway connecting Jalalabad to Kabul. Soldiers, accidents, and ghosts are no match for this little fighter with a knack for surviving the toughest challenges. Inspired by a New York Times article about the real-life "Pepsi bottle boys" of Afghanistan, this dreamy play introduces an up-and-coming writer of great promise.

The play runs May 5-29, 2016 at the Thick House (1695 18th Street, San Francisco) and performs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. (No performance on Sunday, May 15). Opening night is Monday, May 9, 2016 at 8pm. For tickets ($10-$34) and more information on the production, visit goldenthread.org.

"Kevin has written a thoughtful, complex, and poetic story of Afghan resilience that has deeply inspired me. This is the kind of story that everyone should be telling about the Middle East, and we're very proud to be the ones telling it," said Executive Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian. "While our highest priority is to support the voices and careers of artists of Middle Eastern heritage, we are also committed to building a network of like-minded allies. Allies of many different cultures and backgrounds who hold the same values and share our vision of a world where we are not defined by political separations, but by our shared humanity."

"Golden Thread embraces bold, political, transgressive work-the kind of plays other theatres are too timid or too concerned with the bottom line to take on. It's a light on the horizon for not only Middle Eastern playwrights, but for all of us in the theatre engaged with larger questions about the world and what makes us human," said playwright Kevin Artigue, a graduate of Public Theater's prestigious Emerging Writers Group and the first playwright of non-Middle Eastern descent to receive a full-length production at Golden Thread.

Golden Thread has committed three years of development on this script, including as part of the company's 2013 New Threads staged reading series, the 2014 National New Play Network's showcase, and earlier in 2016 at the Playwrights Foundation's Rough Readings Series. Yeghiazarian added: "The playwright and director team has been at work on this script for a long time, and we're proud that Golden Thread can be an artistic home for these projects that need long-term artistic support and cultural specificity to blossom. I am personally thankful to our cultural consultant Humaira Ghilzai, Bay Area Afghan community members, and partner organizations that have made this long development process possible."

The Most Dangerous Highway in the World features a multi-generational cast, including two local young actors: Kiran Patel, who takes on the role of Traffic, and Jiya Khanna-both from San Francisco Friends School. The cast includes Golden Thread veterans Sofia Ahmad, last seen in Isfahan Blues, and Terry Lamb, who appeared in Urge For Going and Language Rooms (in San Francisco and Los Angeles) both directed by Odcikin. Rounding out the cast are newcomers Louel Señores and Davern Wright.

The Kabul-Jalalabad Highway is a main artery for Afghanistan and was dubbed the most dangerous highway in the world by National Geographic. The play takes place on a very specific part of the highway called the Mahi Par Pass, known for its stark beauty and deep rocky ravines. The creative team for the world premiere that will evoke this specific location with a dreamy hand include James Ard (sound designer), Kenan Arun (make-up designer), Cassie Barnes (lighting designer), Kate Boyd (scenic designer), Naseem Etemad (assistant stage manager), Courtney Flores (costume designer), Humaira Ghilzai (cultural consultant), Marie Shell (stage manager), Lizabeth Stanley (properties designer), and Valerie Weak (acting coach for young actors).

Golden Thread Production is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and has announced a season of new plays and special events that celebrates its legacy and showcases the company's groundbreaking vision for the future. Along with The Most Dangerous Highway in the World, the season includes the West Coast premiere of Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat by award-winning playwright Yussef El Guindi, the most produced writer in Golden Thread history (directed by Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, October 28-November 20, 2016) and the New Threads staged reading series returning in June and July of 2016 to the Brava Theater Center. New Threads introduces four singular voices to the Bay Area that challenge dominant stereotypes and showcase the stylistic diversity of Middle Eastern theatre: Tariq Hamami, Ken Kaissar, Hannah Khalil, and Novid Parsi. Golden Thread Fairytale Players continues to tour Bay Area schools and libraries throughout the year, presenting dynamic and colorful plays for all ages inspired by Middle Eastern folktales. The year will culminate in a 20th Anniversary Celebration Event to be announced. Find out more about Golden Thread and its 20th Anniversary season at goldenthread.org.

ARTIST BIOS:

Kevin Artigue (Playwright) is a playwright and screenwriter born and raised in Southern California and based out of New York City. He is a recent graduate of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, where he studied with playwrights and screenwriters including Sheila Callaghan, Naomi Wallace, John Irving, Nilo Cruz and David Adjmi. In 2012, he was honored with a Visiting Writer Fellowship at the University of Iowa. His plays have been developed with Theatre of NOTE, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Yale Cabaret, Iowa New Play Festival, and the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, where he was a Core Apprentice. He is a former intern in the literary department of the Public Theatre in NYC and in 2009-10 served as the summer playwriting instructor at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. In summer of 2012, Kevin wrapped production on his first screenplay, the feature film Holy Ghost People, a thriller set in the world of a reclusive snake handling church. The film was shot on location in Crossville, Tennessee and directed by Mitchell Altieri. Kevin produced alongside his screenwriting and producing partner Joe Egender. Holy Ghost People premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.

Evren Odcikin (Director) is a San Francisco-based director and serves as the Director of New Plays and Marketing at Golden Thread, where he has directed the premieres of Yussef El Guindi's Language Rooms, in San Francisco and Los Angeles Theater Center (critic's pick for Los Angeles Times), Mona Mansour's Urge For Going, Denmo Ibrahim's Ecstasy | a waterfable, as well as numerous short plays in ReOrient Festivals. For the company, he leads all new play development activities, including the annual New Threads reading series, assists in season selection, and helps produce the mainstage season including the biennial ReOrient Festival. He has directed and developed new plays at South Coast Rep, the Lark, O'Neill Theatre Center, National New Plays Network Showcase, Magic Theatre, Crowded Fire, Cutting Ball, Aurora Theatre, Impact Theatre, foolsFURY, and Playwrights Foundation with such writers as Eugenie Chan, Christopher Chen, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Prince Gomolvilas, Garret Groenveld, David Jacobi, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Michael Lew, and Nick Nanna Mwaluko, amongst many others. A graduate of Princeton University, Evren was awarded the 2015 National Director's Fellowship by the O'Neill, NNPN, the Kennedy Center, and SDCF; the 2013 TITAN Award for Directors by Theatre Bay Area; and selected as an Emerging Theatre Leader by TCG for their American Express Leadership Bootcamp. odcikin.com


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