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Marina J. Bergenstock

Marina J. Bergenstock is a first year PhD student in Stanford’s Theatre and Performance Studies Department. She is a director, dramaturg, and educator. She received her MFA in Directing at the University of Iowa. Marina’s research interests include hyphenated and diasporic identities and the performance of them in the Arab world and in the United States, and theatre as a catalyst for political, structural, and social reform.

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Creating the Change: Featuring Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi
Podcast

Creating the Change: Featuring Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi

With Raymond Bobgan and Omar Kurdi

18 May 2022

MENA artists continue to work hard to create representation in large theatrical arenas by pushing for their work to be produced on contemporary stages. However, since some major theatres only allot 1 or 2 slots a year for plays by BIPOC artists, and MENA artists have frequently been ignored. They have found other ways to create thriving artistic spaces for actors, directors, and playwrights alike. Masrah Cleveland Al Arabi has created a space for MENA artists to thrive. This artist-led organizational infrastructure serves as an example of how change can be made within existing theatrical structures. Today we are joined by Raymond Bobgan and Omar Kurdi.

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Iranian Theatre Companies
Podcast

Iranian Theatre Companies

With Parmida Ziaei (Seda, Seattle) & Shadi Ghaheri (Peydah, NYC)

11 May 2022

In the greater conversation about MENA or SWANA identity, many national and ethnic groups do not neatly fit into that category or are in between geographic areas. One of the largest groups that are both within and without what is considered the “Middle East” is Iran. So many Iranian leaders are making intentional space for the diversity and specificity of their culture by creating companies for Iranian artists. In this episode, we highlight two Iranian theatre companies: Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble in Seattle, WA, and Peydah Theatre Company in NYC.

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Centering Perspectives of Color in Theatre Criticism
Podcast

Centering Perspectives of Color in Theatre Criticism

With Arti Ishak and Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel

4 May 2022

For artists, getting a quality review of their show is often critical to continued success. It can make or break new plays and emerging artists. However, works by BIPOC artists have often been subjected to the white critical gaze in reviews, which has frequently not made any attempt to account for the complexity of culture outside of the reviewer’s own understanding. There has been a major push by BIPOC artists to counter the white supremacy of reviews, including who writes the critiques and what they write about. In this episode, Arti Ishak and Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel talk about their experiences as MENA artists and critics, how they negotiate the field of criticism, and what changes can and must be made to the landscape.

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Community Engagement through Art and Programs
Podcast

Community Engagement through Art and Programs

With Pirronne Yousefzadeh & Lia Fakhouri

27 April 2022

Community engagement is more than a post-show talk or touring production. These two directors and administrative leaders are community engagement practitioners in everything that they do, including their artmaking and program curation. They work both as independent artists and through organizations. We will discuss the nature of community engagement as an artistic practice, how their MENA backgrounds influence their practice, and how the theatre atmosphere is or should shift to be community engaged in an authentic and equitable way.

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Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon
Podcast

Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon

With Sahar Assaf & Zeina Daccache

20 April 2022

Site-specific performances have the possibility to truly make all the world a stage. To produce site-specific and devised theatre performances in the United States and abroad, artists must engage with the questions of the politics of any space, what communities inhabit or use it, and who is invited into it. Sahar Assaf, a Lebanese theatremaker and the new artistic director of Golden Thread Productions, and Zeina Daccache, an actor, director, and the founder of Catharsis: Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy come together to talk about site-specific and devised theatre pieces in Lebanon, the rest of the MENA world, and the United States.

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Theatre as Advocacy/Palestinian Theatre
Podcast

Theatre as Advocacy/Palestinian Theatre

With Ahmed Masoud and Hanna Eady

13 April 2022

Theatre is a powerful tool for political and community advocacy efforts. From the stage to the streets, theatre can illuminate underheard narratives, reveal different perspectives on political events, and humanize the struggles of groups. There is a long history of theatre as a tool for advocacy in the Palestinian community in the US and abroad. In this episode, we talk to two Palestinian writers and theatremakers who have been using the art form as a way to bring awareness to the conflict in Palestine, give audiences with concrete tools for change, and provide direct relief to Palestinians internationally.

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Representation Behind the Scenes
Podcast

Representation Behind the Scenes

With Betty Shamieh & Tracy Francis

6 April 2022

Last season we talked about on-stage representation in contemporary theatre. But what does representation look like behind the scenes and why is it important? How does the process change when there are MENA creative team members, production staff, directors, and playwrights involved from the inception of a project to its closing night? What role does this representation play in new work development? We will discuss all of this and more with playwright Betty Shamieh and artistic director of Boom Arts Tracy Francis as they share their past experiences, insight, and ideas for the future.

A woman with a blue headscarf, red shirt, and jeans sits next to a man in a brown vest, gray shirt, and tan pants on stacks of books. The man is holding a book open and both people appear to be speaking. They are in front of other piles of books with half of a chalkboard visible in the background.
Afghan Art and Advocacy
Podcast

Afghan Art and Advocacy

With Yousof Sultani

20 September 2021

On this special episode of Kunafa and Shay, Marina and Nabra are joined by actor and activist Yousof Sultani, who discusses his experiences in the theatre field as an Afghan American artist and the advocacy and community organizing he does for the people of Afghanistan.

On a colorful background the headshots of a woman with short hair, a woman with curly hair, and a man with short hair are all seen.
The MENA Theatre Movement Today
Podcast

The MENA Theatre Movement Today

With Lameece Issaq, Torange Yeghiazarian, and Jamil Khoury

2 June 2021

In this final episode of Kunafa and Shay, Marina and Nabra are focusing on MENA theatre in the United States with playwrights Lameece Issaq, Torange Yeghiazarian, and Jamil Khoury.

A family sits around a table in a production photo from Food and Fadwa.
Culinary Diplomacy
Podcast

Culinary Diplomacy

26 May 2021

Join Marina and Nabra on this week's episode of Kunafa and Shay as they discuss Middle Eastern and North African cuisine in theatre and their lives.

A woman dressed in white kneeling on the floor and cutting off the peel of an orange. She sits in front of one sunflower.
Forum Theatre in Palestine
Podcast

Forum Theatre in Palestine

With Iman Aoun and Edward Muallem

19 May 2021

On this week’s episode of Kunafa and Shay, join Marina and Nabra as they discuss Forum Theatre in Palestine with Palestinian actors and founders of ASHTAR Theatre Edward Muallem and Iman Aoun.

A woman in a black hijab and tan trenchcoat burns a piece of paper cut out in a wavy design.
Complicating Notions of Womanhood
Podcast

Complicating Notions of Womanhood

12 May 2021

On this week's episode of Kunafa and Shay, Marina and Nabra discuss Western ideals of women, specifically Arab women, and two adaptations of Western plays by Arab women. The hosts also explore the authentic Arabic feminist themes in the plays Jogging: Theatre in Progress and Noura.

A view looking down at the street where there is a circle of bystanders watching a street performance happen in the middle of the circle.
Egyptian Street Theatre
Podcast

Egyptian Street Theatre

with Mohab Saber

5 May 2021

On this episode of Kunafa and Shay, Marina and Nabra discuss Egyptian street theatre with Egyptian curator and coordinator Mohab Saber.

The performers of Eleven Reflections on September, including Andrea Assaf.
Drama on Video
Podcast

Drama on Video

With Andrea Assaf

28 April 2021

On this week’s episode of Kunafa and Shay, join Marina and Nabra as they discuss MENA drama on video, touching a wide range of plays. Marina and Nabra also interview Andrea Assaf about her works, DRONE and Eleven Reflections on September.

5 actors stand upstage looking at one actor who stands closer to the camera, downstage. They hold scripts and look very somber.
The Power of Verbatim Theatre
Podcast

The Power of Verbatim Theatre

With Jen Marlowe

21 April 2021

On this week’s episode of Kunafa and Shay, join Marina and Nabra as they interview Jen Marlowe about her company Donkeysaddle Productions, where Jen conducted interviews for fifteen years to create the verbatim piece There is a Field, a play about Asel Asleh, a seventeen-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel killed by police in October 2000. Donkeysaddle used this piece to connect communities in the way it was subsequently performed and then documented. Listen to find out how this piece came to be.

9 male actors are sitting and standing in a stage space facing both toward and away from the camera, at the audience.
Drama Therapy: The Work of Zeina Daccache
Podcast

Drama Therapy: The Work of Zeina Daccache

14 April 2021

On this week's episode of Kunafa and Shay, join Marina and Nabra as they discuss Zeina Daccache's work using drama therapy in Lebanon to empower inmates in the carceral system.

A collage of stereotypical Middle Eastern figures
Representation 101: Trends of Contemporary MENA Theatre in the US
Podcast

Representation 101: Trends of Contemporary MENA Theatre in the US

7 April 2021

Join Nabra and Marina as they discuss how MENA theatre in the United States was affected by 9/11, analyze post-9/11 trends in MENA theatre from their own perspectives, and also examine popular MENA plays of the twenty-first century. Setting the stage for future episodes, this discussion illuminates how theatre has contributed to representation of Arabs in popular media and highlights the playwrights who have fought against the stereotypes that were made mainstream by the widespread racism and xenophobia following 9/11, which continue to this day.

two people kneel in front of ornate architecture, petting a black and white cat
Meet the Hosts
Podcast

Meet the Hosts

Kunafa and Shay: Episode 1

31 March 2021

In this first episode of Kunafa and Shay, meet our hosts Nabra Nelson and Marina J. Bergenstock!

Kunafa and Shay
two people kneel in front of ornate architecture, petting a black and white cat
Series

Kunafa and Shay

Season one of Kunafa and Shay will focus on MENA theatre post-9/11 to today—highlighting contemporary MENA plays and playwrights, spotlighting international community-engaged work in the Arab world, and pondering the present and future of MENA theatre in the United States.