Livestreamed on this page on Friday 4 August 2023 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).
NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics
The Reception of Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) Theatre in North America
Golden Thread presented NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Friday 4 August 2023 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).
In collaboration with the Middle Eastern Theatre focus group at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) annual conference, Golden Thread Productions invited Dr. Sarah Fahmy, a decolonial scholartist and co-founder of the Middle Eastern Theatre group at ATHE, and Marina Johnson, a scholar and director, to moderate a conversation on theatre criticism in the SWANA artistic and academic worlds across the region and the diaspora today. This panel featured scholar, dramaturg, and former theater reviewer Dr. Aycan Akçamete, dramaturg and theatre journalist Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel, and playwright Tariq Hamami for a conversation that seeked to analyze the status of “post”-pandemic theatre criticism and desired pathways forward in academia and in praxis from SWANA artists. Panelists discussed topics of cultural competency, the multiple forms of criticism, and the ways that SWANA artists and academics seek to change the game.
Sarah Fahmy (she/hers) is a decolonial scholartist, who works at the intersection of performance and identity politics, Arab and North African theatres, 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 Middle Eastern North African Theatre Makers Alliance programming subcommittee. An Assistant Professor of Theatre at Florida State University, Sarah’s research presents a foundational theoretical praxis for supporting young Egyptian women authors and embody their decolonial feminist identities. Sarah has devised multi-disciplinary 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 a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder; where she spearheaded anti-racist university-wide restructuring, as the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Government, the Center for Teaching and Learning Theatre Lead Instructor, and the co-artistic producer of the New Play Festival, and by creating the first university library database dedicated to MENA Women Playwrights. Her publications appear in a range of journals and books ranging from Theatre Topics to PloS One. https://drsarahfahmy.com/
Marina Johnson (she/they) is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies Department at Stanford University, also pursuing Ph.D. minors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Marina received her MFA in Directing from the University of Iowa. She is the co-host of Kunafa and Shay, a podcast produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons. Johnson is a member of Silk Road Rising’s Polycultural Institute and is a dramaturg with Golden Thread Productions’ 2023 ReOrient Festival. Prior to beginning her Ph.D., she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Beloit College for three years. Select recent directing credits include: The Shroud Maker (International Voices Project), Shakespeare’s Sisters (Stanford), The Palestinian Youth Monologues (Stanford), Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Beloit College), and In the Next Room (Beloit College).Her work has been published in MATC’s Theatre/Practice, Eumenica, and in Arab Stages. Marina-Johnson.com
Tariq Hamami is a New York based playwright best known for his plays Smail, Everything Will Be Alright, The Town of No One, Spite, White Picket Fences, The One Percy Ent, and the musical The Life of Mary Rogers (co-written with Katherine Kavanagh and Thomas Hodges). He is currently working on a commission from Golden Thread Productions called The Fox and the Panther based on the aftermath of the Algerian Revolution and the Black Panther Party’s residency in Algiers. He is a recipient of the 2014 and 2019 Bauer-Boucher Award, the winner of the 2018 WINKS Reading Series produced by Wide Eyed Productions, and is a resident artist at Golden Thread Productions. Along with writing, he is also a professor at the City College of New York and the Borough of Manhattan Community College where he teaches theatre. His plays look for the intersectionality of faith and culture, calling on his multi-faith and multicultural upbringing. He is also a proud subscriber of the Silly Town Theatre Company that performs nightly in his living room on top of a toy box by his daughter and son.
Aycan Akçamete received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, Comparative Literature Program. Her doctoral work explores the role of theater critics in shaping a theater production and reimagines their position as integral to understanding a performance as an event. Taking as its case study Turkey-affiliated Arcola Theater in London and its productions dealing with Turkey’s political history, the project ruptures the idea of a Euro-centric canon and exposes the role of reviews in representation and meaning-making. Aycan has presented her research on criticism and contemporary theater at various national and international conferences, including the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, where she has been serving as a Member-At-Large for the Middle Eastern Theatre Focus Group. Her latest scholarly work forthcoming in an edited collection analyzes the stage adaptation of #WeAreArrested, written by the exiled journalist Can Dündar. Besides scholarly efforts, Aycan has been engaged in various aspects of theater, such as publishing reviews on several platforms in Turkey, training with the internationally renowned DOT Theater, and delivering public seminars (including one at Moda Sahnesi, Istanbul). Aspiring to amplify the scholarly resources in Turkish-language, she translated Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theater for publication at Imge Yayinevi.
Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel (she/they) is a dramaturg, theatre journalist and oral historian with roots in and around Chicago. As a queer, fat, brown femme, they endeavor to amplify and archive stories that go lost/stolen/forgotten. Their writing and research explores possibility models for a more inclusive and sustainable theatre culture and industry. They serve on committees for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. They have also served as a Guest Respondent for the Kennedy Center College American Theater Festival (R3 Journalism, R5 Dramaturgy). Select bylines include American Theatre, The Austin Chronicle, Sightlines, The Chicago Reader, and Teen Vogue. Mikhaiel holds a M.A. in Performance as Public Practice from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.F.A. in Dramaturgy/Criticism from The Theatre School at DePaul University. They are the Chicago journalism lab City Bureau’s Digital Producer and teach as part-time faculty at TTS DePaul. Learn more and connect with them at YasminZacaria.com.
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