Loading Events

Towards Arab Dramaturgies (Day 2)

« Back to Events
This event has passed.
September 28, 2018

Photo: Hunter Canning  World Premier of The Strangest. by Betty Shamieh, 2017, 4th Street Theater

Thursday, September 27th   
2:00pm–9:00pm Conference Room #9206, 9th floor

Friday, September 28th   
9:00am–6:00pm Skylight Room #9100, 9th floor

Free + Open to the public
First come, first served
Please RSVP here: mestc@gc.cuny.edu

We would like to invite you to participate and attend the upcoming  Towards Arab Dramaturgies symposium in New York City at the Graduate Center, CUNY, New York.

The 2018 symposium Towards Arab Dramaturgies is part of the exchange partnership between the Martin E. Segal Theater Center, the Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance at The Graduate Center CUNY and the Theater Initiative at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The symposium is organized and curated by Marvin Carlson, Peter Eckersall, Frank Hentschker and Salma S. Zohdi, with additional support from Sahar Assaf and Robert Myers.

 |About the Symposium|

With a focus in this symposium on Arabic dramaturgies, we hope to begin to answer these questions. As a term that bridges the ideas and practice of contemporary performance, dramaturgy draws our attention to the process of artistic production. It explores the notion that process is performance and invites us to look at the question of how artists connect ideas and forms in their work.

This symposium will feature research papers, artist talks and roundtable events. The sessions and papers will be compiled in a publication/book that will be generated from the discussions at the convening. The event will be live streamed and will be archived at the Segal Center’s Youtube page.

Contemporary theatre and performance in the Arabic world is a diverse and contested set of practices that are unfolding in a fast-changing political and culturally complex region. In this situation, the performing arts are under pressure to independently produce new work, uphold traditions— and simultaneously to speak about contemporary lives, nationalism, class, race, religion, gender and new forms of theatre. In this symposium, we ask how theatre can continue to grow, develop artistically and continue to be a voice in the future of the Arabic world. How can the theatre in the region thrive?

Scheduled speakers and panelists include: Khalid Amine, Eman Antar, Sahar Assaf, Dalia Basiouny, Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi,
Wafaa Bilal, Leila Buck, Marvin Carlson, Peter Eckersall,
Yussef El Guindi, Frank Hentschker, Rania Lee Khalil,
Amahl Khouri, Ashley Marinaccio, Robert Myers, Rashi Mishra, Rubén Polendo (Theatre Mitu), Heather Raffo, Betty Shamieh, and Sarah Youssef.


Day 2, Friday, Sept, 28
(Skylight Room #9100, 9th floor)

9:00am – 9:50am             Registration/Coffee

10:00am –  11:30am        Arab Stages Advisory Board Session
Opening Remarks: Arab Dramaturgies: A Mutiplicity of Options
by Marvin Carlson
Introduction by Betty Shamieh
Conversation with Marvin Carlson and others / Q&A

11:30pm –  1:00pm         Theatre of the Real: Dramaturgy in the Arab Context
with Amahl Khouri, Theatre Mitu, Sahar Assaf, and Peter Eckersall / Q&A

1:00pm –  2:30pm            Lunch Break

 * 2:30pm –  4:00pm        Paper Presentations

  • Opening by Marvin Carlson: Arab Dramaturgy in Medieval Cairo: The Ibn Dāniyāl Trilogy
  • Khalid Amine: Alternative Arab Dramaturgies
  • Sarah Youssef: Arab Dramaturgies on the European Stage: Liwaa Yazji’s Goats (Royal Court, 2017), Mohammad Al-Attar’s The Factory (Ruhrtriennale, 2018)
  • Dalia Basiouny: Dramaturgies of the Revolution

* 4:00pm –  5:30pm        Arab American and Arab Artists in conversation
Opening by Yussef El Guindi
Conversation with Sahar Assaf, Dalia Basiouny, Leila Buck, Rania Khalil, Amahl Khoury, Heather Raffo, and Betty Shamieh.
Moderated by Frank Hentschker / Q&A

* 5:30pm –  6:00pm        Wrap up, Recap, and Conclusions by Marvin Carlson, Peter Eckersall, Frank Hentschker, Sahar Assaf, and Robert Myers

* Coffee and snacks in Green Room, Room 3111, 3rd Floor

For day 1 schedule, click here



About the Participants:

Photo courtesy of the artist

Khalid Amine is Senior Professor of Performance Studies at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetouan, Morocco. Among his published books: Beyond Brecht (1996), Moroccan Theatre Between East and West (2000), Fields of Silence in Moroccan Theatre (2004), Dramatic Art and the Myth of Origins: Fields of Silence (2007). Amine is Co-author with Distinguished Professor Marvin Carlson The Theatres of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia: Performance Traditions of the Maghreb (London & New York: Palgrave, 2012).


Photo courtesy of the artist

Eman Mostafa Antar is a translator and master research scholar at the Department of English Language and Literature, Cairo University. Her main areas of research are visual, cultural and gender studies. In 2016, she participated in Dancing the Self, a contemporary dance workshop for women and in April 2017, she performed in a project entitled: (Un)Covered en Masse that was staged on Falaki theatre, Cairo, along with other 25 women. She is also a member of two creative writing &storytelling groups: Seshat and Ana Elhekaya. Now, she is a Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant (FLTA) of Arabic language in Northeastern University, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Boston, MA.


Photo by Rayan Ghannam

Sahar Assaf is an actress, stage director and Assistant Professor of Theatre at the American University of Beirut. She recently translated and directed Garcia-Lorca’s Blood Wedding as a site-specific performance and co-translated, co-directed and starred in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Sahar is a member of Lincoln Center Director’s Lab (2014), a member of Directors Lab North in Toronto (2017) and a Fulbright alumnus with an MA in Theatre Studies from Central Washington University (2011).


Photo courtesy of the artist

Dalia Basiouny is an Egyptian writer, theatre maker, activist, academic and translator. Her theatre work includes directing 20 plays performed in Egypt, England, USA, Morocco, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Germany. Basiouny’s theatre and academic work focuses on the role of women in theatre. Her Ph.D. from CUNY Graduate Center explores the political theatre of Arab American Women after 9/11. She established “Sabeel for the Arts” in Cairo,1997. This independent group promotes women’s work, explores non-traditional theatre settings, and new ways of telling women stories in theatre and on film. She is a recipient of many awards including the Fulbright Arts Grant, USA; the British Council Chevening Scholarship, UK; and the theatre award from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) for her play “Solitaire”.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi born in Algiers and operating from Brussels, is a curator, dramaturge and documentary filmmaker. She was involved as guest curator in ‘Casablanca-Energienoire’ within Mons 2015 -Cultural Capital of Europe, associate curator in the ‘Arab Art Focus’ at Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF, Cairo) in 2016, and for the next show case within the Arab Art Focus at Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2017) . She is actively involved in projects involving young Arab dancers: dramaturgy of performances, research and documenting, curatorship and publications. She is regularly contributing for her specific expertise for public debates and discussions, in Europe and the Mena region.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal is renowned for provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics through high profile, technologically-driven projects that employ the use of robotics, the internet, and photographic mobile mapping. Bilal’s work is constantly informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously in two worlds – his home in the “comfort zone” of the U.S. and his consciousness of the “conflict zone” in Iraq. Using his own body as a medium, Bilal continues to challenge our comfort zone with projects like 3rdi, and Counting, Domestic Tension and 168:01. He lives and works in New York City.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Leila Buck is a Lebanese American playwright, actor, and intercultural facilitator who has lived, taught, performed and/or traveled in 11 Arab countries and around the world. She has performed her work and others at the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Cleveland Public Theatre, Mosaic theater at Arena Stage, and across the U.S.. A State Dept. Speaker Specialist and Cultural Envoy, she has performed, led master workshops and taught theatrical tools for literacy, conflict resolution, and intercultural communication to U.N. delegates, aid workers, youth, educators, and business and intercultural leaders across the U.S. and around the world. Her work is featured in American Theatre magazine, Innovation in Five Acts; Etching Our Own Image: Voices from the Arab American Art Movement, and Four Arab-American Plays. Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group; Usual Suspect (NYTW); Adjunct Professor, The Middle East on Stage (NYU). www.leilabuck.com


Photo courtesy of the artist

Marvin Carlson is the Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Director of the Marvin Carlson Theatre Center at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, China. Carlson has a Ph.D. in drama and theatre from Cornell University. His wide-ranging research and teaching interests include dramatic theory and Western European theatre history, dramatic literature, and translation, especially of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. He has been awarded the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the George Jean Nathan Prize, the Bernard Hewitt prize, the George Freedley Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Indiana University, a visiting professor at the Freie Universitat of Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Theatre. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens. His best-known book, Theories of the Theatre (1993), has been translated into eight languages. His 2001 book, The Haunted Stage, won the Calloway Prize.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Peter Eckersall is the EO of Theatre & Performance Program, The Graduate Center, CUNY. A pioneering researcher in Japanese theatre and dramaturgy and contemporary performance, his recent publications include We’re People Who Do Shows: Back to Back Theatre—Performance, Politics, Visibility (coedited with Helena Grehan, Performance Research Books, 2013); Theatre and Performance in the Asia-Pacific: Regional Modernities in the Global Era (coauthored with Denise Varney, Barbara Hatley, and Chris Hudson, Palgrave, 2013); and Performativity and Event in 1960s Japan: City, Body, Memory (Palgrave, 2013). His current project New media dramaturgy: How new media transform the composition and reception of live performance is funded by the Australian Research Council. He is a visiting fellow in the Centre for Interweaving Performance Cultures, Berlin; resident dramaturg for Not Yet It’s Difficult, a contemporary performance group based in Melbourne; and coconvenor of the Dramaturgy and Performance Studies Working Group at Performance Studies International (PSi), and was cofounder of Dramaturgies.


Photo by Ann-Margaret Johnson

Yussef El Guindi’s recent productions include The Talented Ones at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland (Santa Barbara Independent Indy Award); Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat at Golden Thread Productions (American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award); and Threesome at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (Portland Drammy for Best Original Script).



Photo courtesy of the artist

Frank Hentschker (Executive Director, The Segal Center) who holds a Ph.D. in theatre from the now legendary Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany, came to the Graduate Center in 2001 as program director for the Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and was appointed to the central doctoral faculty in theatre in 2009. Among the vital events and series he founded at the Segal Center are the World Theatre Performance series, the annual fall PRELUDE Festival, and the PEN World Voices Playwrights Series. Before coming to The Graduate Center, Hentschker founded and directed DISCURS, the largest European student theater festival existing today; he acted as Hamlet in Heiner Müller’s Hamletmaschine, directed by Heiner Müller; created a performance with Joseph Beuys; performed in the Robert Wilson play The Forest (music by David Byrne) and worked for Robert Wilson. Next to programming Segal Theatre Center events Frank taught Theatre History at Columbia University and is currently working on a book about Robert Wilson’s play texts.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Rania Lee Khalil’s works in performance and moving image reflect on the beauty and fragility of wildlife and human (culture)s. Her performances have been seen at Judson Church, Utopia Station, Ontological-Hysteric Theater in New York; Aomori Art Museum Japan, Al Ma’mal Contemporary Art Jerusalem, Kiasma Museum, Helsinki, Zawya Cinema, Cairo and the artistic research pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale. She is presently completing a doctorate in artistic research at Theatre Academy Helsinki.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Amahl Khouri a queer and trans mixed race Jordanian documentary playwright and theatre maker based in Munich. Khouri is the author of several plays, including She He Me (Vienna 2019) and No Matter Where I Go (Beirut 2014). Khouri was a selected playwright at the Arcola Global Queer Plays and the Lark hotINK international play reading series. Khouri is also the recipient of a Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship from PEN USA and was member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab in 2013. Khouri’s work has been published in several U.S. journals and in the International Perspectives on Where Performance Leads Queer anthology.


Photo by Jodie Christopherson

Ashley Marinaccio is a theatre artist and scholar who creates work to challenge the status quo. She is dedicated to documenting the socio-political issues that define our times. As a director and playwright, her work has been seen offBroadway, at the White House, United Nations, TED conferences across the United States, Europe and Asia. Currently, Ash is working on her Ph.D. in the Department of Theatre and Performance at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is focusing on theatre and war. Ash is the founding Artistic Director of the theatre company and United Nations NGO Girl Be Heard, where she received numerous accolades, including LPTW’s Lucille Lortel Women’s Visionary Award. She is a co-founder/director of Co-Op Theatre East and member of the Civilians Field Research Team. Ash is on the faculty at Pace University and Hunter College.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Robert Myers (www.robert-myers.com) is a professor of English at AUB, director of the Alwaleed Center for American Studies and co-director of AUB’s Theater Initiative. He is the author of over fifteen plays, which have been produced all over the U.S., he has produced and worked as a dramaturg with Sahar Assaf on half a dozen plays in Lebanon and translated six plays from Arabic to English with Nada Saab. He is co-editor and co-translator with Nada Saab of Contemporary Political Theater from the Levant, forthcoming this year from Brill, and Sentence to Hope, a Sa’dallah Wannous reader, forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2019.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Rashi Mishra is a theatre practitioner and researcher from India, working at the intersection of theatre and politics. Rashi received an MA in Performance Studies from Tisch School of Arts, New York University and is a recipient of Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights from NYU, as part of which Rashi have worked with The Freedom Theatre (Palestine) researching and writing about the role of theatre within the Human Rights discourse.



Photo courtesy of the artist

Rubén Polendo (Founding Artistic Director, Theater Mitu) is a director, writer, and creative technologist whose practice and pedagogical work is situated in the tension between acting and performance, theatrical design and installation, and multimedia and interactive technology. His work with Theater Mitu has been presented and developed nationally and internationally. Polendo recently served as Founding Theater Program Director and Associate Dean for the Arts Center, both at NYU Abu Dhabi. Polendo is currently Chair of Undergraduate Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Founded in 1997, Theater Mitu is a permanent group of collaborators committed to expanding the definition of theater through methodical experimentation with its form. The company investigates global performances as a source of their training, work, and methodologies.


Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post

Heather Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress who’s work has taken her from the Kennedy Center to the US Islamic World Forum and from the Aspen Ideas Institute into hundreds of classrooms across our nation. She has been seen off Broadway, off West End in regional theater and in film. She is the author of 9 PARTS OF DESIRE (Lucielle Lortel award, Blackburn, Drama League, OCC, Helen Hayes nominations), which The New Yorker called “an example of how art can remake the world”; the librettist to the opera FALLUJAH (NYC Opera, Long Beach Opera); and her newest play, NOURA, (Weissberger Award) premieres at Playwrights Horizons in Nov/Dec this year.


Photo by Lisa Keating

Betty Shamieh is a Palestinian-American playwright and author of fifteen plays. Her productions include The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop), Fit for a Queen (Classical Theatre of Harlem), and Roar (The New Group). Roar was the first play by a Palestinian-American playwright produced off-Broadway. A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she was named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue and a Guggenheim Fellow. Her works have been translated into seven languages. www.bettyshamieh.com.


Photo courtesy of the artist

Sarah Youssef is an Egyptian-German internationally working freelance theatre maker and research scholar. She has completed her undergraduate studies in Theatre at the American University in Cairo, Egypt and her graduate degrees in Text and Performance Studies at RADA/King’s College London and in Cross Sectoral and Community Arts at Goldsmiths University. Since fall 2012, Sarah is editorial assistant of gender forum – An Internet Journal for Gender Studies and research assistant at the University of Cologne, Germany where she also teaches. Sarah has been a CUNY visiting research scholar in 2014 and 2017. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Cologne, Germany, where she completed her dissertation on her decade-long empirical research on UK and US prison theatre (forthcoming 2019, Intellect Publishing). She is currently working on her research as well as her practice on immersive theatre productions and the reimagining of classic texts in theatre and performance.


Photo by Annabel Guevara

Salma S. Zohdi is an Egyptian Dramaturg based in New York City, and was the 2017/2018 Next Generation Fellow at The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. In Egypt, she worked as a producer, teaching artist, stage manager, playwright, translator, and assistant director. NYC credits: Nathan the Wise at CSC, The Mecca Tales, “Arab Classic Plays” and “Re-reading Oppression” at the Segal Center, and American Dreams & Arabian Nights at the BRICLab. Salma is also a collaborator on a work-in-development of a theatre adaptation of Dr Alaa El Aswany’s acclaimed Egyptian novel The Yacoubian Building. MA: AUC – English & Comparative Literature. MFA: Columbia University – Theatre (Dramaturgy).