Golden Thread Productions, the first American theatre company devoted to the Middle East, is proud to present its biennial signature program: ReOrient 2017 Festival of Short Playsfeaturing plays and artists from Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S. all on one stage. Think you know the Middle East? Think again. An Arab-American couple must choose a name for their unborn child. A troupe of actors rehearse a political play under the watchful eye of the government. A leftie Iranian-American and a Trump supporter find themselves together at a Thanksgiving dinner. These are just some of the stories of ReOrient 2017, which will turn San Francisco into a mecca for innovative, spirited, and thought-provoking theatre from or about the Middle East. ReOrient 2017 runs November 17-December 10, 2017 at Potrero Stage (formerly Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco) and performs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. (No performance on Thanksgiving Thursday, November 23). Opening night is Monday, November 20, 2017 at 8pm. For tickets ($15-$36) and more information on the festival, please visit goldenthread.org.
"Nowhere else in the US, and certainly not anywhere in the Middle East, will you be able to find such a diverse collection of plays from and about the Middle East on one stage," Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian explains. "As Washington promotes fear and an isolationist superior stance, programs like ReOrient that present nuanced narratives and accessible human stories, are essential in shifting the conversation to our shared vulnerabilities."
This year's ReOrient Festival presents seven remarkably eclectic world premiere short plays as one evening of theatre. The ReOrient 2017 playwrights, who were selected by a panel of theatre luminaries from 79 submissions from 14 countries, include three local playwrights: Palestinian-American playwright Betty Shamieh, E.H. Benedict, whose Orhan was part of ReOrient 2012, and Torange Yeghiazarian. Also returning to ReOrient is Palestinian-Irish playwright Hannah Khalil, whose Bitterenders was a favorite from ReOrient 2015. New to the festival are emerging Turkish-American playwright Melis Aker and Arab-Armenian-American Sevan K. Greene, whose full-length Stuff was presented as part of the New Threads staged reading series in 2016. Rounding out the line-up is Japanese-American poet Junichi P. Semitsu, whose beautiful poem Shelter will be adapted to a soundscape by Yeghiazarian and sound designer James Ard.
ReOrient, now produced every two years, is Golden Thread's signature program and is a hugely ambitious undertaking for this intrepid theatre company with this year's festival is employing 33 artists. The ReOrient 2017 directors include Golden Thread veterans Erin Gilley, Evren Odcikin, and Sara Razavi, alongside Bay Area favorite Tunisian-American director Susannah Martin.
This year's ReOrient Festival marks the first collaboration between Golden Thread and the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). The partnership brings together two organizations that value challenging cultural preconceptions through provocative programming and dialogue. For ReOrient 2017, LMDA will provide a team of professional dramaturgs who bring their expertise in new play development, research, and content creation for Golden Thread's artists and audiences. LMDA's Regional Vice President of Metro Bay Area Nakissa Etemad serves as lead dramaturg. The team includes Anna Woodruff, who is working on Manar, and publications dramaturgs Emily DeDakis and Vidhu Singh.
The seven-person ensemble, who will inhabit 20 roles through the evening, include many Golden Thread favorites like Atosa Babaoff, Mohamed Chakmakchi, Naseem Etemad, Lawrence Radecker, and Bella Warda, alongside newcomers Stephen Kanaski and Jessica Risco. The production team includes Jenna Apollonia (assistant stage manager), James Ard (sound design), Kenan Arun (make-up design), Cassie Barnes (lighting design), Kate Boyd (scenic design), Beckett Finn (technical director), Erin Gilley (projection design), Brooke Jennings (costume design), Karen Runk (stage manager), Benjamin Shiu (assistant stage manager) and Grisel Torres (property design). (Source: broadwayworld.com)
Golden Thread thanks the supporters of ReOrient 2017 for their invaluable contribution: San Francisco Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Fleishhacker Foundation, University of San Francisco, and The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley. Golden Thread is a resident company at Potrero Stage, operated by Playground.