Golden Thread Productions and Art2Action, Inc. were thrilled to co-produce and co-present the fourth annual convening of the Middle Eastern North African Theater Makers Alliance (MENATMA) which livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October 2023.
The convening was hosted at Golden Thread’s ReOrient Festival of Short Plays in San Francisco.
This year’s convening was co-sponsored by Silk Road Rising, Noor Theatre, New Arab American Theater Works, Diaspora Arts Connection, and Theatre Communications Group's THRIVE! Program. The convening was made possible in part by generous support from the Ford Foundation.
Saturday 28 October
Convening Opening: MENA Theatre Advocacy Today
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Welcome by Golden Thread executive artistic director Sahar Assaf, followed by Opening Remarks by Andrea Assaf and Torange Yeghiazarian on behalf of the MENATMA founding board.
Sustainability & Self-Preservation: Palestinian Artists Speak Out
1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 4:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Moderated by Andrea Assaf and Sahar Assaf. Speakers: Hanna Eady, Maya Nazzal, Manaar Azreik, and Mama Ganuush.
Panel: MENA Artists Leading in Mainstream National Theatres
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Moderated by Evren Odcikin.
MENA artists are finally stepping into executive leadership positions at mainstream theatres of size. What are the opportunities and challenges they face? Does a MENA leader necessarily mean it's easier for MENA work to get produced?
Panel: MENA Theatre in Schools and Universities
4:45 - 6 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 7:45 - 9 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Moderated by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh.
How do MENA theatremmakers and educators from K-12 to university settings navigate questions of cultural competency, representation, and omission? This panel considers all the ways in which students might engage with MENA theatre, such as in production, as dramatic text, or in theatre history lessons.
Sunday 29 October
Panel: MENA Political Theatre at Home and in the Diaspora
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Moderated by Catherine Coray
This panel with MENA international artists explores the dynamics and artistic expressions of political theatre in the MENA region and in the diaspora. Artists will share their creative processes and the ways in which they navigate the intersection of politics, identity, and theatre.
Intercommunity Dialogue: Coalition Building With Other Networks
2:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 5:15 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Moderated by Kate Moore Heaney with an introduction by Emilya Cachapero.
The creation of MENATMA has been greatly influenced and supported by other theatre networks of color. How can we continue to build on our connections with these networks and work together towards shared goals for our communities?
Kunafa and Shay Live: Possibilities for Affinity Spaces with MENA/SWANA and LGBTQIA+ Artists
4 p.m. - 5 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Co-hosted by Nabra Nelson and Marina Johnson.
This live recording of the Kunafa and Shay Theatre Podcast in partnership with Mizna+RAWIfest discusses the benefits and complications of queer MENA and SWANA affinity spaces.
Sahar Assaf, executive artistic director, Golden Thread Productions
Hala Baki, director/dramaturg/scholar/educator, California Polytechnic State University
Amal Bisharat, Golden Thread resident artist
Debórah Eliezer, Golden Thread resident artist; artistic director, Aviva Arts
Kathryn Haddad, artistic executive director, New Arab American Theater Works
Denmo Ibrahim, writer, actor
Marina Johnson, director, dramaturg
Jamil Khoury, founding co-executive artistic director, Silk Road Rising
Kate Moore Heaney, artistic producer, Noor Theatre; artistic associate, Literary, Long Wharf Theatre
Nabra Nelson, playwright
Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh, scholar-artist and dramaturg