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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

Afghan Art and Advocacy
Podcast
Afghan Art and Advocacy
With Yousof Sultani
by Marina J. Bergenstock, Nabra Nelson
20 September 2021
Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: Theatre from the Streets of Palestine, India, and Venezuela
Video
Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: Theatre from the Streets of Palestine, India, and Venezuela
A Conversation about the International Pilot Program Aiming to Bring Forth Truthful Stories and Realities of the People of Palestine, India, and Venezuela
Friday 2 September 2021
United States
Afghan Art and Activism: Panel Discussion
Video
Afghan Art and Activism: Panel Discussion
Friday 17 September 2021
Seattle, Washington, United States
event poster with artist headshots for NO SUMMARY theatre from the streets.
Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: Theatre from the Streets of Palestine, India, and Venezuela
Video

Livestreaming a Conversation: NO SUMMARY: Theatre from the Streets of Palestine, India, and Venezuela

A Conversation about the International Pilot Program Aiming to Bring Forth Truthful Stories and Realities of the People of Palestine, India, and Venezuela

Friday 2 September 2021
United States

Golden Thread presents NO SUMMARY: Theatre from the Streets of Palestine, India, and Venezuela livestreaming on the commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 24 September 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 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.

Afghan Art and Activism Panel event poster.
Afghan Art and Activism: Panel Discussion
Video

Afghan Art and Activism: Panel Discussion

Friday 17 September 2021
Seattle, Washington, United States

Seattle Rep presents a panel discussion on Afghan art and activism livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Friday 17 September 2021 at 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. PDT (Seattle, UTC -7) / 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

poster for the artists, ideas, now, imagine democracy event.
Artists/Ideas/Now—Imagine Democracy
Video

Artists/Ideas/Now—Imagine Democracy

A Conversation About the Climate Crisis and its Impact in the Middle East and North Africa

Wednesday 15 September 2021
Liverpool, United Kingdom

From citizen assemblies to challenging those in power, does democracy in 2021 have what it takes to survive the climate crisis? Livestreamed on the commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Wednesday 15 September 2021 at 10 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 12 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 1 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 6 p.m. BST (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2).

banner for no summary episode on SWANA theatre companies.
NO SUMMARY: Emerging SWANA Theatre Companies under the Spotlight
Video

NO SUMMARY: Emerging SWANA Theatre Companies under the Spotlight

A spotlight on three of emerging SWANA (South West Asian / North African) theatre companies in the United States.

Friday 27 August 2021
San Francisco, California

Golden Thread in San Francisco presented three emerging SWANA (South West Asian / North African) theatre companies in the United States: Dunya Productions in Seattle, Peydah Theatre Company in New York City, and Medina Theater Collective in Chicago, whose work is bravely making space for diverse SWANA stories in the U.S. theatre scene. Livestreaming on the commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Friday 27 August 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).

event poster with artist headshots for no summary digital guide.
NO SUMMARY: A Celebration of MENA Playwrights!
Video

NO SUMMARY: A Celebration of MENA Playwrights!

The Digital Guide to Theatre of the Middle East Is Here

Friday 30 July 2021
United States

Golden Thread Productions presented NO SUMMARY: A celebration of MENA playwrights! livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 30 July 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 Palestinian flag that says, "End Israeli Apartheid! Free Palestine. Boycott-Divest-Sanction. NorCalSocialism.org/SocialistWorker.org."
It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel
Essay

It is Long Past Time for American Theatres to Boycott Israel

12 July 2021

Fargo Tbakhi argues it is long past time for the American theatre to listen to Palestinian colleagues and to collectively and immediately commit to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

Creating New Mediums and Hustle Culture
Podcast

Creating New Mediums and Hustle Culture

With Parmida Ziaei of Seda Iranian Ensemble

7 July 2021

In this episode of Building Our Own Tables, host Yura Sapi discusses Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble, the first Iranian theatre company in Seattle, with co-founder Parmida Ziaei.

Creating a Platform for Black-Palestinian Solidarity
Essay

Creating a Platform for Black-Palestinian Solidarity

6 July 2021

Jen Marlowe shares how her documentary play There Is A Field became a framework for exploring Black-Palestinian solidarity.

artist and panelist headshots on event poster.
NO SUMMARY: The SWANA Queer Imagination
Video

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 presented 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).