Arts & Events

Golden Thread Presents ReOrient, an Annual Festival of One-Act Plays

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 12:09:00 PM

ReOrient, Golden Thread’s annual festival of one-acts about Middle Eastern identity, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday late afternoons through Dec. 13 at the Thick House on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill.  

For the anniversary, the festival will feature the ReOrient Forum, daytimes, Dec. 5 and 6, with panels on theater and identity politics, peace-building and intercultural artistic exchange, chaired by notables, such as playwright Philip Kan Gotanda; a book launch for Salam.Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern American Drama, a first-ever collection; an art exhibit, ASWAT Arabic music ensemble, Ballet Afsaneh (with live music), an interactive art exhibit, a birthday bash--and a new Internet play performance: Yussef El Guidi’s The Review, with the playwright himself in Cairo, asking his “girlfriend” in San Francisco what she thinks about his work--and getting more than he bargained for (but everyone’s a critic!), directed by Hafiz Karmali.  

Plays, directors and performers of previous years have been brought back for the anniversary, some playing better than ever.  

Highlights among the plays include: Naomi Wallace’s play, No Such Cold Thing, which opens on a lingering reunion between two Afghan sisters, ready to leave the war-torn country, then, ever more dreamlike, introduces an American soldier waking up, thinking he’s back at home, encountering the sisters. Who is in whose dream? Bella Warda directed Nora El Samahy, Sara Razavi and Basel Al-Naffouri; Coming Home, by Israeli playwright Motti Lerner (who will speak with the audience after the show Dec. 5), of a soldier’s leave among uncomprehending parents and girlfriend, directed by Mark Routhier, with a particularly good cast: Raffi Wartanian, Charles Isen, Leah Herman and Maryam Farnaz Rostami; two plays by Golden Thread founder Torange Yeghiazarian, Call Me Mehdi, a comedy en boudoir, with Ahou Tabibzadeh and George Psarras chewing over intercultural jokes and love, and Abaga, directed by Karmali, with Wartanian, Suraya Keating, Vida Ghahremani, Isen, Dina  

Mousawi and Psarras as displaced people of three generations, all nationalities, trying to find those elusive things, peace and love, in the Middle East of the early-mid-20th century, and The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue, with sara Razavi, directed by Arlene Hood, in Al-Guindi’s solo piece about Palestine, unrecognized, reduced to a not-always comic monologue, onstage and off. 

A special treat is Al-Guindi’s adaptation of Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal, refigured to Egyptian-Americans, with a delightful comic performance by Dina Mousawi, here from London, and a hilariously agonizing, acrobatic turn by Micheal Sommers, trying to pop the question, but juggling everything else but love and marriage, which end up bones of contention, as directed by deft Hafiz Karmali, with a nod or two to V. S. Meyerhold and vaudeville old and new. 

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