Marketplace Stories, Folktales from the Arab World, May 13, 2017

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13624 Michigan Ave. Dearborn, MI 48126

Marketplace Stories—Folktales from the Arab World

Arab American National Museum

13624 Michigan Ave. Dearborn, MI 48126

Marketplace Stories—Folktales from the Arab World


Ann Arbor’s Wild Swan Theater concludes its 37th season of high-quality professional theater for Michigan families with Marketplace Stories—Folktales from the Arab World, a collaborative presentation with the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Dearborn.

Created especially for elementary school children and their families, the production is lively and fast-paced as a band of seven actors including American Sign Language performers tumble and turn their way through these timeless stories and music, passed on from country to country and from one generation to the next.

This wonderful collection of tales is set in a 19th century village marketplace that seems to spring to life straight out of the folk-art paintings of renowned Lebanese American artist Helen Zughaib. Abu Ali, a wandering storyteller, arrives in the marketplace with his special story box, his sanduk, on his back. As the company of performers gather around him and his brightly painted box of stories, the tales seem to spin out of the box, onto the stage and even out into the audience.

“This new, original production is hugely important because it provides a space where kids will see Arab and Arab American cultures represented on a mainstream stage in a fun, positive, setting,” says AANM Educator Petra Alsoofy. “It is especially important that a professional theater company - trusted by teachers and parents - worked on this project with AANM and is making this project accessible to thousands of kids across the state.”  

AANM’s now-retired founding director, Dr. Anan Ameri, contributed ideas as did the Museum’s Education staff, while Arab American artist Helen Zughaib contributed vibrant, folkloric artwork to Wild Swan’s development of Marketplace Stories.

Directed by Wild Swan’s Co-Artistic Directors, Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder, the play will be performed simultaneously in spoken English and American Sign Language with the inclusion of some spoken Arabic and Arabic sign language. The cast includes deaf actor Randa Hermez and hearing actors Jeremy Salvatori, Lauren Ezzo, Ethan Kankula, Natalie Rose Sevick, and ASL shadow performers Shelly Tocco and Marin Goldberg.

“One of our goals in creating this work is to celebrate the Arab American culture in Michigan because it is such a vibrant part of our state's heritage,” says Hilary Cohen, co-artistic director of Wild Swan Theater. “Our generous funders allow us to make theater for children and families that expands learning across cultures.”

Marketplace Stories—Folktales from the Arab World will premiere in Ann Arbor at Towsley Auditorium at Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, on May 4, 5 and 6, 2017. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for youth and seniors. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as are $3 lap passes for patrons under two years of age.

To purchase tickets for the Ann Arbor performances, call 734.995.0530 or visit

At the Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave., Marketplace Stories will be presented on May 13, 2017, in a performance open to the public. Tickets for May 13 are for $8 Museum Members and $10 for the general public. OnMay 9 and 10, 2017, AANM offers specially priced performances for school groups, complemented by a free craft activity.

For tickets to the Dearborn public performance on May 13, call 313.582.2266 or visit To learn about pricing for school groups on May 9 and 10, visit

All performances will be American Sign Language shadow interpreted for deaf patrons by Synergy on Stage

After May 2017, the production will be available for touring to schools, museums, libraries and theaters throughout Michigan and the Midwest. 

Funding for this production came from the Buhr Foundation, Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Ford Motor Company Fund, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Michigan Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wild Swan Theater is dedicated to producing professional theater for family audiences of the highest artistic quality and to making that theater accessible to low income, minority and disabled children through low ticket prices and innovative outreach programs. Backstage touch tours and audio-description are available for blind theater patrons. These services are free but must be reserved by calling (734) 995-0530. For more information about the company, its current season, touring programs and theater camps, visit

The Arab American National Museum (AANM) documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions. AANM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums; an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution; and a founding member of the Immigration and Civil Rights Network of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. or call 313.582.2266 for further information.






Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and for, and

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
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