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Interview: Playwright Kareem Fahmy Discusses DODI & DIANA, Debuting at South Carolina New Play Festival

Premiere staged reading debuts on Saturday, August 13 at 2:00 PM at Warehouse Theatre in Greenville SC

Interview: Playwright Kareem Fahmy Discusses DODI & DIANA, Debuting at South Carolina New Play Festival

A husband-and-wife travel to Paris to commemorate the death of Princess Diana, unearthing an uncanny connection that will alter the trajectory of their marriage.

That's the premise of DODI & DIANA, a new play by Kareem Fahmy receiving a staged reading on August 13 as part of the inaugural South Carolina New Play Festival.

"DODI & DIANA is an electric piece and as soon as I read it, it leapt off the page with energy," says SNPF Artistic Director West Hyler. "When we reached out to Kareem, he pointed out that the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed's death would coincide with the same month as our inaugural festival...the exact same month in which the events of the play take place. We knew we had to do it."

Fahmy was Co-Founder and Chair of the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at the LARK in NY and DODI & DIANA was a Finalist for National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. After receiving a premiere reading here in Greenville, DODI & DIANA will open Off-Broadway in the fall of 2022 with the same cast - Rosaline Elbay and Peter Mark Kendall - and director - Adrienne Campbell-Holt.

We asked Kareem Fahmy to tell us more about the play.


What was the inspiration for DODI & DIANA?

It began out of a curiosity as to why so little is known about Dodi Fayed. My family, like Dodi's is from Egypt, and I remember vividly on the day Diana died all of the news reports mentioning "her Egyptian boyfriend." A couple of years ago I had a sudden impulse to research Dodi only to find there's almost nothing known about who he really was. The play began from there, but then became something very different

Tell us a little about the play's main characters.

While the play's called DODI & DIANA, the lead characters are actually a modern-day married couple named Jason and Samira. Jason is a white investment banker from Canada and Samira is an Egyptian-American actress. They're at a crossroads in their marriage and they've traveled to Paris to stay in the same hotel (The Ritz) where Dodi & Diana stayed the night they died. They've been told they have a connection to the princess and her lover, and the play gradually reveals what that connection is and what it means for Jason and Samira.

What's the general structure of the piece?

How did you develop it? The action of the play takes place in a hotel room over 72 hours leading up to the exact 25th anniversary of the car crash that killed Diana and Dodi (12:23am on August 31, 1997). The play is 90 minutes long and is divided into twelve scenes that are loosely inspired by the twelve astrological houses. I chose to divide into these twelve snapshots as I wanted to chart the journey Jason and Samira go on over the three days but leave missing pieces so the audience has to figure out what's happened in the moments we don't see.

WIth the show likely going to NY next year with this same director and cast, what are you most hoping to get from this staged reading?

The South Carolina New Play Festival will be only the second time I'm hearing the play in front of an audience. (I had a small sharing of it at San Francisco's Magic Theatre earlier this year). Having the opportunity to see how an audience reacts to this story and these characters-when they laugh (or don't laugh), when they lean in or are bored-will be hugely beneficial as I move this play towards a performance-ready draft.

Why do you think Princess Diana's story - and especially her tragic death - continues to resonate in the culture?

That's one of the things my play tries to examine. Diana seems to be one of these figures that everyone has a "take" on. Her life has been examined from so many different angles that everyone can find a bit of themselves in an aspect of her story, or in her legacy. What I find fascinating about her death, and particularly Dodi's involvement in it, is that it shows there are parts of her story that people choose to leave out because it DOESN'T fit into the narrative they want to tell about her. Diana had romantic entaglements with two brown, Muslim men (Dodi was the second, after Pakistani doctor Hasnat Khan) and I think it's meaningful that this is something most people leave out of the Diana story because it doesn't fit in a convenient narrative about who she was.


Kareem Fahry's DODI & DIANA will receive a staged reading on Saturday, August 13 at 2:00 PM at The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC.

All readings will be free with first-come, first-serve open seating. Reserved seating is available for Patrons and VIPs of the festival. To reserve a seat, sign up for a class, or learn more about the South Carolina New Play Festival, visit www.southcarolinanewplayfestival.org.

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From This Author - Neil Shurley

Neil Shurley has been covering the Greenville SC arts scene since 2001. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association, his theatre-related work has appeared in such publications as The ... (read more about this author)


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