ReOrient Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its prestigious ReOrient 2019 Festival of Short Plays with seven fully produced short plays, two panel discussions, and a national convening of Middle Eastern theatre artists.The 2019 line-up includes playwrights with longtime association with Golden Thread: Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi (Brass Knuckles), Bay Area-based Palestinian-American playwright Betty Shamieh (An Echo of Laughter), and MacArthur Fellow and celebrated playwright Naomi Wallace (The Book of Mima). Joining these writers are four newcomers to the festival: Iraqi-British writer and actor Rendah Heywood (The Grievance Club), Noor Theatre Founding Artistic Director Lameece Issaq (Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts), Turkish-Kurdish writer and filmmaker Mustafa Kaymak (The Basement), and local Iranian-American writer Niku Sharei (In Spenglic). Selected from 108 submissions from 13 countries, the seven short plays are diverse in content and style, highlighting the multiplicity of Middle Eastern perspectives and identities. The ReOrient 2019 Festival of Short Plays will present the seven plays as an evening of theatre on October 18-November 17, 2019 at Potrero Stage in San Francisco. Run time is 2 hours, including intermission. For more information, please visit goldenthread.org. On Sundays October 27 and November 3, ReOrient Forum will offer a panel discussion preceding the performance, featuring leading scholars and practitioners. These panels are free and open to the public. On November 9 and 10, Golden Thread will host a gathering of artists engaged in building a national coalition of Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim (MENA) artists. Building on years of community organizing, Golden Thread's partnership with Silk Road Rising (Chicago) and The Lark (New York), and new alliances with Art2Action (Tampa), Noor Theater (New York), and Boom Arts (Portland), artists from across the U.S. will show up to network and strategize on how to increase MENA theatre community's visibility, amplify our voices, and deepen the impact of our work. Some sessions will be open to the public. For more information, please visit goldenthread.org. "In an atmosphere of growing hostility towards immigrants, Muslims and Middle Easterners, ReOrient is a breath of fresh air!" says Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, "ReOrient is that rare place where people of different backgrounds show up in person and see themselves reflected in someone else's story. The conversations that are instigated by the plays are not happening anywhere else. We need ReOrient because we need that sense of community and interconnectedness now more than ever before." Building on the success of ReOrient 2017, Golden Thread will once again collaborate with the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). The partnership brings together two organizations that value challenging cultural preconceptions through provocative programming and dialogue. Curated by LMDA's Regional VP Metro Bay Area and Festival Lead Dramaturg Nakissa Etemad, LMDA is providing a team of Dramaturgs to aid the playwrights in script development, provide contextual information, and write feature articles that peek behind-the-scenes of ReOrient. In addition to Golden Thread resident artist Nakissa Etemad, this year's Dramaturgy Team includes Emily DeDakis, Laura Espino, Scott Horstein, and Michael Malek Najjar. ReOrient 2019 ensemble cast is made up of Sofia Ahmad*, Atosa Babaoff*, Ali-Moosa Mirza, Lawrence Radecker*, and Amitis Rossoukh. The creative team includes directors, Michael French, Rebecca Novick, Lisa Marie Rollins, and Torange Yeghiazarian; and designers, Kate Boyd (Scenic), Dylan Feldman (Lighting), James Ard (Sound), Brooke Jennings (Costumes), Grisel Torres (Properties), many of whom are Golden Thread resident artists. * Member, Actors' Equity Association. The selection committee for ReOrient 2019 included Nora el Samahy (Actor), Rebecca Novick (Director), Handan Ozbilgin (Associate Artistic Director, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center), and Roberto Gutierrez Varea (Professor, University of San Francisco, Performing Arts and Social Justice Program). Golden Thread Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, Director of New Plays Evren Odcikin, and Literary Associate Hala Baki were also part of the committee. ReOrient Festival of Short Plays was inaugurated in 1999 to present alternative perspectives of the Middle East and to showcase the multiplicity of stories, voices, and styles from the region and has since become Golden Thread's most recognized and celebrated program. This ambitious festival, now presented biennially, turns San Francisco into a mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from and about the Middle East. In the last 20 years, it has presented 89 plays by 59 playwrights and translators. ReOrient serves as a showcase for the work of leading Middle Eastern-American writers like Yussef El Guindi, Mona Mansour, and Betty Shamieh, while helping launch careers of emerging talent from Middle Eastern communities. The festival has also introduced Bay Area audiences to significant and rarely-produced dramatic works from the Middle East by authors such as Sadegh Hedayat, Fatma Gallaire, and Tawfiq Al-Hakim. Alongside Middle Eastern voices, ReOrient also features the work of non-Middle Eastern playwrights exploring the region, and has included premieres by such distinguished American Playwrights such as Naomi Wallace, Eric Ehn, and Israel Horovitz. Golden Thread Productions, founded in 1996, is the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East. We produce passionate and provocative plays from or about the Middle East that celebrate the multiplicity of its perspectives and identities. We are a developmental catalyst and vibrant artistic home to artists at various stages of their career. We bring the Middle East to the American stage, creating treasured cultural experiences for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. For more than twenty years, Golden Thread has been leading the effort to increase the visibility and impact of works by artists of Middle Eastern heritage. Golden Thread is a proud member of Theatre Bay Area (TBA) and Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and a member of TCG's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Cohort 4. goldenthread.org.