Photo Flash: In the Kitchen with Tour-de-Force Solo Show OH MY SWEET LAND
Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East, presents the West Coast premiere of Amir Nizar Zuabi's Oh My Sweet Land, a tour-de-force solo show based on interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan. Instead of staging the play in a theater, Golden Thread will present the show in kitchens around the Bay Area with performances followed by food sharing and community conversations. Directed by Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian and starring Golden Thread favorite Nora el Samahy. Oh My Sweet Land performs on October 12-22, 2017 at venues including private homes and restaurants like Reem's and Birba with most venues having as little as 20 seats. For tickets ($45-$60) and more information on the production, please visit goldenthread.org. Along with public performances, Golden Thread will bring the show to community spaces like Glide Memorial Church with free tickets given to those served by those organizations. Golden Thread has partnered with the International Rescue Committee Oakland to raise awareness about their resettlement services in the Bay Area and the ways we all can help.
In the play, a woman of mixed Syrian-German parentage recalls her encounter with Ashraf, a Syrian man in Paris, all the while preparing kibbeh, a Syrian delicacy. When he disappears, she goes on an arduous journey in search of him that leads to stirring conversations with some of the two-million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. One part detective story, one part a woman's reckoning with her heritage, Oh My Sweet Land complicates our understanding of the conflict in Syria and highlights the resilience of the Syrian people.
Director Torange Yeghiazarian says: "In the midst of growing Islamophobic and anti-refugee sentiments in our mainstream discourse, Oh My Sweet Land adds a rarely-heard perspective to the conversation about Syria, and refugees in general. Given the personal nature of its storytelling presented over a stove as the actress cooks, it was a natural choice for us to present this show at kitchens and take it to the community." Playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi says of his experience of working on the play: "We met people in the harshest moments of their life, yet still they were generous, full of grace, hope, and even humor. This piece is inspired by their stories but more than anything it is inspired by their spirit - that elastic rubber-like ability man has to adapt and to weather the storm."
Speaking to the importance of this play and the issues it tackles, Oh My Sweet Land was programmed by two separate companies on two coasts and will perform concurrently. Along with the Golden Thread production, the U.S. premiere of the play tours kitchens in New York City now through October 22. Presented by The Play Company, the production is directed by the playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi and stars Nadine Malouf. For more information on the NYC production, please visit playco.org.
Golden Thread thanks California Arts Council, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and Sam Mazza Foundation for their generous support of Oh My Sweet Land.
TICKETS: $45-$60 | goldenthread.org
Photo Credit: David Allen Studio
Actress (Nora el Samahy) cooks kibbeh, a traditional Syrian dish, while telling her story
Actress (Nora el Samahy) pours some oil to deep fry kibbeh, a traditional Syrian dish, while telling her story
Actress (Nora el Samahy) plays Ashraf, the Syrian refugee she follows into the Middle East
Actress (Nora el Samahy) plays a little Syrian boy she encounters in Jordan
Actress (Nora el Samahy) grinds bulgur wheat, meat, onions, and spices to for the skin for kibbeh, as she tells her story
The smell of the spices remind the Actress (Nora el Samahy) of Syria
Actress (Nora el Samahy) hand-fills each kibbeh as she tells her story