Following in the footsteps of Asian American, Black, and Latinx Theatre networks, a group of Middle
Eastern/SouthWest and Central Asian/North African American theater artists gathered at the Theatre
Communications Group (TCG) National Conference in 2018, resolved to create a national network to
represent and advocate for our community.
This was the culmination of nearly twenty years of organizing by Golden Thread Productions (since
1996) and Silk Road Rising (since 2003), the Arab American Comedy Festival and Nibras Theatre
Collective since the early 2000s; the “Middle East America National New Plays Initiative” by Golden
Thread, Silk Road, and The Lark (launched in 2008); Noor Theatre and Art2Action (founded in 2010);
and New Arab American Theatre Works (since 2015).
A few significant MENA/SWANA artist convenings preceded the galvanizing 2018 meeting, leading to
MENATMA’s creation: the Lark held two convenings in 2014 and 2016; the Consortium of Asian
American Theatres & Artists (CAATA) hosted a pre-conference for Southwest and Central Asian
American Artists, alongside TCG’s “Beyond Orientalism” preconference, at Oregon Shakespeare
Festival (OSF) as part of the 2016 National Asian American Theatre Festival; plus several TCG Affinity
Group and Theatres of Color gatherings at consecutive national conferences (2014-2019).
These convening opportunities led to the creation of the seminal documents, the “Middle Eastern
Theatre Artists Bill of Rights,” and the “Dear Producers” open letter by Jamil Khoury and Torange
Yeghiazarian in 2017. In Spring 2019, an online survey of MENA/SWANA theatre-makers was
conducted, with the leadership of Kate Moore Heaney, and a national Steering Committee was
formed. In June 2019, selected representatives of our emerging network joined Cohort 4 of TCG’s EDI
The name, mission, and priorities of the MENA Theatre Makers Alliance were defined at Golden
Thread’s ReOrient Festival in Fall 2019, and MENATMA was formally launched. In 2023, MENATMA was registered as a not-for-profit 501-c3 organization.