SWANA and Queer in the Global Story

Silk Road Rising and the Goodman Theatre presented Doing It For Ourselves: SWANA and Queer in the Global Story livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Sunday 26 March 2023 at 2:30 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 4:30 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 5:30 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Join playwright Martin Yousif Zebari and director Sivan Battat for an online conversation moderated by Co-Executive Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising Jamil Khoury about the intersections of SWANA and Queer identities. Panelists will include Adam Ashraf Al-Sayigh, playwright behind Drowning in Cairo, Revelation, Memorial, and Jamestown/ Williamsburg; Evren Odcikin, Director of Artistic Programming at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a founding member of the MENA Theater Makers Alliance steering committee, and a founder of Maia Directors; and Sara Razavi, director, actor and resident artist with Golden Thread Productions.


Jamil Khoury, Moderator
Jamil Khoury is the Founding Co-Executive Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising, an art-making and arts service organization that shapes conversations about Pan-Asian, North African, and Muslim Americans. A theatre producer, playwright, essayist, and filmmaker, Jamil’s work focuses on Arab World themes and questions of Diaspora. He is particularly interested in the intersections of culture, national identity, religion, and belonging.

Sivan Battat
Sivan Battat (Director) is a theater director and community organizer who has developed work with companies including Roundabout, NYTW, Drama League, Atlantic, Ars Nova, National Queer Theatre, New Georges, New York Stage & Film, Cape Cod Theatre Project, MCC and more. New York credits include Who the Fuck is Ahmed (Lincoln Performing Arts Centre); She He Me (National Queer Theater); Baba Karam & McArabia (Atlantic Middle Eastern Mixfest); Pie Shop Play (Corkscrew Theater Festival) and East o’, West o’!, (ANTFest, Ars Nova). Assistant directing credits include Trouble in Mind on Broadway. Regional credits include Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Studio Theatre); Edessa of Baghdad (B-Street Theatre); His Majesty, Herself (Adventure Theatre MTC); The Night Traveller (Cutting Ball Theater); Close to Home (Uprising Theatre) and Coexistence My Ass (Harvard University/Tour). They are the associate artistic director of Noor Theatre, and an alum of the Roundabout Directing Fellowship, the Musical Directing Fellowship with the Drama League and Theatre Communications Group’s Rising Leaders of Color. SivanBattat.com

Martin Yousif Zebari
Martin Yousif Zebari, he/they (Playwright) is an Iraqi-born, Assyrian-American actor and playwright based in Los Angeles. Their play Layalina received two workshops and staged readings as part of Goodman Theatre’s Future Labs and National Queer Theatre’s Criminal Queerness Festival, and most recently received a workshop production in Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Festival. As an actor, their credits include Yasmina’s Necklace and The Winter’s Tale (Goodman Theatre); Drowning in Cairo (Golden Thread Productions); For the Right Reasons (Atlantic Theatre Company); Mosque4Mosque (National Queer Theatre); Guards at the Taj (Steppenwolf Theatre); Mary Stuart (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Hard Problem (Court Theatre); Human Terrain (Broken Nose Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, Failure: A Love Story and The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare (Illinois Shakespeare Festival). They have appeared on NBC’s Chicago Med. They hold a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and are represented by Stewart Talent Chicago. MartinYousifZebari.com

Adam Ashraf Al-Sayigh
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh was born in Cairo, Egypt to parents who were reluctantly doctors. When soon thereafter, Adam’s parents relocated the family to Dubai, Adam grew up in a religious Muslim household with American cable television, going to a British school in a Gulf state where over 90% of the population were migrant workers. This upbringing at the cross-section of cultures is at the core of the artist Adam is.

Today, Adam is a a writer, theatermaker, and dramaturg who writes and develops plays that interrogate the intersections of queerness, immigration, and colonialism. Adam’s plays (including Drowning in Cairo, Revelation, Memorial, and Jamestown/ Williamsburg) have been developed and seen at New York Theater Workshop, The Lark, The Tisch School of the Arts, The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and Golden Thread Productions. Adam is a fellow at Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and an Alliance/Kendeda Award Finalist. He holds a BA in Theater with an emphasis in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from NYU Abu Dhabi and is an MFA Candidate in Playwriting at Brooklyn College.

Evren Odcikin
Evren Odcikin is a theater director, writer, and arts administrator with a deep commitment to bringing underrepresented stories and voices to the American stage. He serves as the Associate Artistic Director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and is a founding member of the MENA Theater Maker Alliance steering committee, a founder of Maia Directors, and a resident artist at Golden Thread Productions. A celebrated new plays director, he has worked with NYTW, Geva, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, The Lark, Kennedy Center, InterAct (Philadelphia), Cleveland Public Theatre, Magic Theatre, Golden Thread, and Crowded Fire. As a writer, he is under commission with Leila Buck to create 1001 Nights (A Retelling) for Cal Shakes. Recognitions include: a 2016 “Theatre Worker You Should Know” feature in American Theatre Magazine; a 2015 National Director’s Fellowship from the O’Neill, NNPN, the Kennedy Center, and SDCF; and a 2013 TITAN Award from Theatre Bay Area.

Sara Razavi
Sara Razavi (Director and Actor) graduated from UC Davis with a degree in sociology and theatre studies, which included a year-long theatre focus at University of Birmingham, in England. Razavi has been active in the MENA space for some time, first collaborating with Golden Thread Productions as a performer in ReOrient 2007, returning numerous times, with one of her most notable performances in 2009 as the monologist in The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue by Yussef El Guindi. In addition to performance, Razavi has directed several productions including Mona Mansour and Tala Manassah’s The Letter (2012) and The House (2015), Farzam Farrokhi’s 2012 (2012), Nahal Navidar’s Songs of our Childhood (2015), E.H. Benedict’s War on Terror (2017), and Sevan K. Greene’s A is For Ali (2017). In addition to Golden Thread, some of Razavi’s favorite Bay Area collaborations include various productions with Elastic Future, Maryam Rostami’s, Persepolis, Texas for CounterPULSE, and Denmo Ibrahim’s BABA for Alter Theatre (winner for San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle award for “Best Original Script” and nominee for “Best Solo Performance”) and DARVAG production’s Death of Yazdgerd, directed by Evren Odcikin. In 2013 she completed her MBA with a focus on social finance and is the CEO of Working Solutions CDFI, a community lender which provides capital and services to local small businesses serving Northern California. She lives in Oakland with her wife, and two young children.