Middle Eastern, North African, and Southwest Asian (MENASA) Theatre

Content in this section focuses on theatre made by practitioners from the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia (MENASA), or of MENASA descent. Start with essays like “Erasing the Middle East: White Gatekeeping and the Painful Path of Progress,” “Middle Eastern America and the Theatre of Belonging,” or the report on the National Convening for Artists of Middle Eastern, North African, and Southwest Asian Descent. And don’t miss the video series of artists of Middle Eastern and North African heritage discussing their identity, work, and artistic choices.

The Latest

Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination
Video
Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination
Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box
Friday 25 June 2021
United States
The MENA Theatre Movement Today
Podcast
The MENA Theatre Movement Today
With Lameece Issaq, Torange Yeghiazarian, and Jamil Khoury
by Marina J. Bergenstock, Nabra Nelson
2 June 2021
Culinary Diplomacy
Podcast
Culinary Diplomacy
by Marina J. Bergenstock, Nabra Nelson
26 May 2021
artist and panelist headshots on event poster.
Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination
Video

Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 25 June 2021
United States

Golden Thread Productions presents NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 25 June 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

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.

event poster with artist headshots for this episode of no summary.
NO SUMMARY: Bridging the Past to a New Era
Video

NO SUMMARY: Bridging the Past to a New Era

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 28 May 2021
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: Bridging the Past to a New Era livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 28 May 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

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.

photo of Ouafa Belgacem, text of the event title and details, with purple and yellow flower decorations.
Theatre-making in the Arab World and North Africa
Video

Theatre-making in the Arab World and North Africa

The Stories Women Carry: Creative Practice of African Women from the Continent

Monday 26 April 2021
Kenya

Tebere Arts Foundation presented the conversation Theatre-making in the Arab World and North Africa with The Stories Women Carry: Creative Practice of African Women from the Continent livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 26 April 2021 at 10 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 8 p.m. EAT (Nairobi, UTC +3).

headshots of artists with event title text.
NO SUMMARY: Queering Our Middle Eastern Identities
Video

NO SUMMARY: Queering Our Middle Eastern Identities

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 23 April 2021
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: Queering Our Middle Eastern Identities livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 23 April 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

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!

NO SUMMARY with John Eisner, Jamil Khoury, and Torange Yeghiazarian
Video

NO SUMMARY with John Eisner, Jamil Khoury, and Torange Yeghiazarian

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 26 March 2021
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: a conversation with with John Eisner, Jamil Khoury, and Torange Yeghiazarian livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 26 March 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

What do the Women Say? Celebrating 25 Years of Centering Women Artists
Video

What do the Women Say? Celebrating 25 Years of Centering Women Artists

Golden Thread’s annual celebration of International Women’s Day

Monday 8 March 2021
United States

Golden Thread presents the conversation What do the Women Say? Celebrating 25 Years of Centering Women Artists livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 8 March 2021 at 11 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 2 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

Evren Odcikin and Nora el Samahy
NO SUMMARY with Evren Odcikin and Nora el Samahy
Video

NO SUMMARY with Evren Odcikin and Nora el Samahy

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 4 December 2020
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY with Evren Odcikin and Nora el Samahy livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 4 December 2020 at 3 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 5 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 6 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

Nomadic Imagination: Transnational Homelands & Cultural Return
Video

Nomadic Imagination: Transnational Homelands & Cultural Return

Part of Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists’ ConFest Virtual Series

Monday 9 November 2020
United States

Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA) presented Nomadic Imagination: Transnational Homelands & Cultural Return livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 9 November at 2 p.m. HST (Honolulu, UTC-10), 3 p.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC-9), 4 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC-8), 5 p.m. MST (Denver, UTC-7), 6 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC-6), 7 p.m. EST (New York, UTC-5).

NO SUMMARY with Golden Thread Fairytale Players
Video

NO SUMMARY with Golden Thread Fairytale Players

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 6 November 2020
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY with Golden Thread Fairytale Players livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 6 November 2020 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -5) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

headshots of playwrights
NO SUMMARY with playwrights Hassan Abdulrazzak, Tariq Hamami, Hannah Khalil, and Mona Mansour
Video

NO SUMMARY with playwrights Hassan Abdulrazzak, Tariq Hamami, Hannah Khalil, and Mona Mansour

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a box

Friday 23 October 2020
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: a conversation with playwrights Hassan Abdulrazzak, Tariq Hamami, Hannah Khalil, and Mona Mansour livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 23 October 2020 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -5) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

portrait of playwright Naghmeh Samini
NO SUMMARY with playwright Naghmeh Samini
Video

NO SUMMARY with playwright Naghmeh Samini

Online conversations with artists that don’t fit in a Box

Wednesday 7 October 2020
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: a conversation with playwright Naghmeh Samini livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Wednesday 7 October 2020 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -5) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

portrait of marvin carlson
SEGAL TALKS with Marvin Carlson
Video

SEGAL TALKS with Marvin Carlson

A conversations on US and global theatre and performance

Wednesday 23 September 2020
United States

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented SEGAL TALKS: Marvin Carlson livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Wednesday 23 September 2020 at 9 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 11 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 17:00 BST (London, UTC +1) / 18:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2).

two actors onstage
Erasing the Middle East
Essay

Erasing the Middle East

White Gatekeeping and the Painful Path of Progress

17 September 2020

Ali-Reza Mirsajadi talks about struggles for Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) artists in the American theatre community and details some of the changes that are happening for inclusivity and equity.

four outlines of people with one in a hijab
A Performance of Snapshots 2.0 by Convergence Theatre  
Video

A Performance of Snapshots 2.0 by Convergence Theatre  

New Virtual Theatre about Islam, Sexuality, and Cultural Appropriation  

Saturday 13 June 2020
United States

Convergence Theatre presented its virtual performance of Snapshots 2.0 by Asif Majid, livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 13 June 2020 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 7 p.m. GMT (London, UTC+0).

man playing trumpet
Raga Maqam
Video

Raga Maqam

Performing from multiple locations in coordination with CultureHub

Monday 30 March 2020
New York City

Brooklyn Raga Massive, the India Center Foundation, and CultureHub presented Raga Maqam livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 30 March 2020 at 4 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 6 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 7 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / Tuesday 31 March at 12 a.m. BST (London, UTC+1).