Golden Thread presented the conversation NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics: The Reception of MENA Productions livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Friday 11 November 2022 at 11 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 2 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).
Golden Thread invites Sarah Fahmy, a scholar and devising artist to moderate a conversation on the reception of Middle Eastern North African (MENA) productions in the United States today with Kareem Fahmy, a theatre director, playwright, and screenwriter whose work is produced at nationally acclaimed theatre companies this year, and Malek Najjar, a director, playwright, and scholar of Arab American and Middle Eastern American theatre and associate professor of theatre arts at the University of Oregon. When Middle Eastern North African stories are constantly subjected to the white gaze and are performed in front of a predominantly white Western audience, how do MENA creative teams grapple with an authentic representation of their artistry, languages, and cultures?
This conversation is produced and hosted by Golden Thread Productions in collaboration with the MENATMA convening taking place at the Arab American National Museum, 10-12 November 2022.
Sarah Fahmy (moderator) is a decolonial scholartist, who works at the intersection of performance and identity politics, Arab and North African theatre, and eco-feminism. She is a co-founder and chair of the Middle Eastern theatre focus group at the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the co-chair of the MENATMA programming subcommittee. A Ph.D. candidate in theatre and performance studies and a member of the Child Language Learning Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, Sarah’s dissertation presents a foundational theoretical praxis for supporting young Egyptian women authors and embodying their decolonial feminist identities. Sarah has devised multidisciplinary, site-specific pieces and facilitated applied performance and playback residencies with hundreds of participants internationally, ranging from creative climate communication with scientists to co-created workshops with youth for the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Egyptian government. Sarah has spearheaded university-wide anti-racist restructuring as the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government, the theatre lead instructor at the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the co-artistic producer of the New Play Festival. She also created the first university library database dedicated to MENA women playwrights. Her publications appear in a range of journals and books ranging fromTheatre Topics to PloS One.
Malek Najjar (Panelist) is an associate professor of theatre arts at the University of Oregon. He is a director, playwright, and scholar of Arab American and Middle Eastern American theatre. His published works include Middle Eastern American Theatre: Communities, Cultures and Artists and Arab American Drama, Film and Performance: A Critical Study: 1908 to the Present. He has edited four Arab American plays: Works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, Lameece Issaq, and Jacob Kader; The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi; and Heather Raffo’s Iraq Plays: The Things That Can’t Be Said. He has co-edited The Vagrant Trilogy: Three Plays by Mona Mansour (with Hala Baki) and Six Plays of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (with Jamil Khoury and Corey Pond). He has directed productions with Silk Road Rising, Golden Thread Productions, and New Arab American Theatre Works. Malek is an alumnus of the RAWI Screenwriters Lab/the Royal Film Commission Jordan, Directors Lab at Lincoln Center Theater, and Directors Lab West. He was awarded the University of California Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship, the Ernest G. Moll Faculty Research Fellowship in Literary Studies, the Fund for Faculty Excellence Award, and certificates of merit for directing from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.
Kareem Fahmy (Panelist) is a Canadian-born, New York City-based director and playwright of Egyptian descent. He was named a 2020 TCG Rising Leader of Color. As a playwright, Kareem received the 2022 Woodward/Newman Playwriting Award, a NYSCA/NYFA Playwriting Fellowship, the Janet Sloane Literature Residency at Yaddo, and is a two-time finalist for the National Showcase of New Plays. Commissions: Artists Repertory Theatre, Colt Coeur, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan. His plays include Dodi & Diana (Colt Coeur, O’Neill NPC Finalist), American Fast (Rolling World Premiere at Artists Repertory Theatre, City Theatre, InterAct Theatre), A Distinct Society (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Pioneer Theatre, Writers Theatre), The Triumphant (Target Margin Theatre), Pareidolia, and an adaptation of the acclaimed novel The Yacoubian Building. Kareem is co-founder and chair of the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab. He has directed and developed work at theatres nationwide, including Pioneer Theatre, Geva Theatre, Writers Theatre, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Portland Stage, Crossroads Theatre, Premiere Stages, MCC, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The New Group, New Dramatists, Playwrights Center, The Civilians, Silk Road Rising, San Diego Rep, and Berkeley Rep. Fellowships/Residencies: Sundance Theatre Lab, The Old Globe (Classical Directing Fellow), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Phil Killian Directing Fellow), The O’Neill (National Directors Fellow), Second Stage (Van Lier Directing Fellow), Soho Rep (Writer/Director Lab), Lincoln Center (Directors Lab), New York Theatre Workshop (Directing Fellow/Usual Suspect). MFA in Theatre Directing: Columbia University. www.kareemfahmy.com