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Virtually Connecting MENA and SWANA Theatre Makers Coast to Coast 

November 5-7, 2021



Welcome Happy Hour

Friday, November 5 at 5-7pm PT / 8-10pm ET

Learn about MENA Theatre Makers Alliance and meet other attendees in our community!

MENA Women Playwrights on US Stages

Saturday, November 6 at 9-10:30am PT / 12-1:30pm ET

A conversation with five outstanding and groundbreaking playwrights whose works span genres and styles, and will be produced in the coming season. These brilliant writers will talk about inspiration, collaboration, adaptation, representation, politics, controversy and community—and about their current projects for stage and screen.  

Mona Mansour (

Heather Raffo (

Betty Shamieh (

Sanaz Toossi (NPX profile)


Moderator: Catherine Coray (NYU profile)

Academia and the Next Generation

Saturday, November 6 at 11am-12:30pm PT / 2-3:30pm ET

This panel, consisting of MENA/SWANA theatre professors and current and former MENA/SWANA theatre students, will explore the current state of MENA/SWANA in the academy.


Hala Baki, Lecturer, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly profile)

Mehmet Bakir, current DePaul University Theatre Arts student

Rana Esfandiary, Assistant Professor, The University of Kansas (KU profile)

Reza Mirsajadi, Assistant Professor, DePaul University (DePaul profile)

Izzie Nadha, current Tisch School of the Arts at NYU student (

Moderator: Michael Malek Najjar, University of Oregon Theatre Arts Associate Professor (UO profile)

Beyond the Proscenium

Saturday, November 6 at 1:30-3pm PT / 4:30-6pm ET


In this panel, innovative and mold-breaking MENA theatre makers talk about creating work beyond the limits of conventional theatre spaces and approaches, from site-specific and immersive, to multidisciplinary and virtual.


Leila Buck (she/her), writer, actor, facilitator and educator (NPX profile)

Caitlin Nasema Cassidy (she/her), Founding Co-Artistic Director of LubDub Theatre Company (

Noelle Ghoussaini (she/her), theatre-maker, ritual artist and cultural organizer (

Denmo Ibrahim (she/her),  actor, playwright, educator, and entrepreneur (

Maya Zbib (she/her), theatre director, performer, writer; co-artistic director of Zoukak Theatre Company and Zoukak Studio (Zoukak profile)


Sahar Assaf (she/her), Executive Artistic Director, Golden Thread Productions (GTP profile)

Pia Haddad (she/her), creative producer and founder, 3K² Productions (

Open Mic

Saturday, November 6 at 5:30-7:30pm PT / 8:30-10:30pm ET

Meet other MENA theatre makers around the country in this session where you get 5 minutes to share a snippet of a work in progress, talk about a project you are working on, or just introduce yourself to the community!

Spots are first come first served. Sign up for a slot here!

Cross Collaboration with Leaders from Other Theatre Communities

Sunday, November 7 at 9-10:30am PT / 12-1:30pm ET

As we advance the field of theatre and performance to reflect more voices from the global majority how can different communities and organizations collaborate and support each other through coalitions of networks and theatre of color? 

Panelist information coming soon.


Sunday, November 7 at 11am-12:30pm PT / 2-3:30pm ET

Get to know other artists and make new connections! Opportunities to meet new collaborators in small groups and through one on one “speed dating.” 

Queer and MENA: Visible and Proud In-Between

Sunday, November 7 at 1:30-3pm PT / 4:30-6pm ET

Four queer artist-activists of MENA descent discuss their approaches and processes for living and creating in their full, complex truths in the American theatre. 


Adam Ashraf Elsayigh (he/him), playwright, dramaturg, and producer (

Samy Nour Younes Figaredo (he/they), actor and activist (

Megan Sandberg-Zakian (she/her), director and author; co-founder, Maia Directors (

Sharifa Yasmin (she/her), director and playwright (

Moderator: Evren Odcikin (he/him), Associate Artistic Director and Director of Artistic Programming, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (

Wrap Up Session

Sunday, November 7 at 5:30-7:30pm PT / 8:30-10:30pm ET

A group discussion and reflection on the convening and how we move forward and support our community.

Facilitator: Denmo Ibrahim (she/her),  actor, playwright, educator, and entrepreneur (

Open Mic

This event is sponsored by The Rutherford Initiative, University of Oregon, Golden Thread Productions, Noor Theatre, and Art2Action, Inc

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