Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: Golden Thread's ReOrient Festival—Plays from & About the Middle East

By Ken Bullock
Friday November 09, 2012 - 12:25:00 PM

Torange Yeghiazarian's Golden Thread Productions is in the midst of staging its annual ReOrient festival of contemporary plays from and about the Middle East. One of the most important theatrical companies in the Bay Area—or anywhere in North America—Golden Thread brings top quality collaborators to bear on a double string of short plays of immediate importance. 

This month—through November 18th—ReOrient plays out two series, and a Forum with other events attached, some for free, at two locations a few steps from each other, parts of Project Artaud in SF's Mission-Potrero. 

Series A, Six Short Plays—all, excepting the first, are world premieres: "War & Peace," a comic, allegorical play by Egypt's leading playwright, Tawliya al-Hakim, directed by Hafiz Karmali; "The Birds Flew In,' by acclaimed Egyptian-American playwright Yussef al-Guindi, about the losses of a mother of an Iraq War soldier, directed by Evren Odcikin; "The Letter," by Mona Mansour & Tala Manassa, directed by Sara Razavi, on the refusal of CUNY to grant an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner over his criticism of Israel; "Stalemate," by Saroyan prizewinner Silva Sererciyan, directed by Desdemona Chiang, from a disco/record shop in London to a battlefield in Iraq; "In the Days That Follow,' by Jen Silverman, directed by Christine Young, about a male ex-Israeli soldier following a Lebanese female poet to America; '2012,' by Farzan Favrokhi, directed by Sara Razavi—Three strangers on cell phones walk into a cafe ... A joke or the end of the world? 

Series A will play Thursdays-Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7, at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa, near Bryant. $15-$20. 

Series B, Four Short Plays, includes MacArthur Award-winner Naomi Wallace's 'City of Grubs,' directed by Desdemona Chiang, about an Arab-Jewish immigrant, who, discovering a dead man in the fleabag New Jersey hotel he cleans, tells the corpse his innermost secrets (US premiere)—followed by three world premieres: "Orhan," E. H. Benedict, directed by Evren Odcikin, of a half-British, half-Turkish man jailed for terrorism; "Stuck," by Amir al-Azraki, directed by Torange Yeghiazarian: What does it take to get out of Iraq with an Iraqi passport?; and "The Voice Room," by Reza Soroor directed by Torange Yeghiazarian—a novice secret agent is sent to spy on a guerilla band presided over by a prize catch.  

Series B will play November 16 & 17, Friday & Saturday at 8, at Z Space, 450 Florida (near 17th & Bryant). $15-$20. 

In addition, next weekend is the Forum at Z Space, with other events: the Forum itself, with keynote address by Columbia Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Comparative Literature Hamid Dabashi & panels on questions of the Arab Spring and art, "Comic Counter-Terrorism," & others; playwright Yussef al-Guindi in conversation, followed by a staged reading of his play, 'The Mummy & the Revolution,' Saturday the 17th at 2:30 (FREE); Hafiz karmali's acclaimed "Rumi X 7," seven tales from the great Persian poet's Masnavi in a vaudeville format, Sunday the 18th at 2 ($15-$20)—and the closing party, Sunday the 18th at 7, reception with music by Iranian-American saxophonist—a great jazzman!—Hafez Modirzadeh with his band ($20-$30). 

(415) 626-4061; 

It's a Festival with great variety, great purpose—and a great heart. I urge all to attend—& enjoy!