Life of Palestinian Poet Taha Muhammad Ali be feted in play
The Kennedy Center Collaborates with Sundance Institute to Bring Theater by Palestinian Playwrights to Washington, D.C. Amer Hlehel’s TAHA, Raeda Taha’s Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali?, and Creative Tensions: HOME to be Presented March 15-25, 2017
(WASHINGTON)—This spring, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will embark on a new collaboration with Sundance Institute to present a series of theater pieces in the Terrace Gallery from Institute alumni artists representing Palestine.
“We are delighted to be able to invite Sundance Institute to participate in this international theater exchange program, which will focus on works by artists from the Middle East, whose voices are too rarely heard in Washington, D.C.,” said Alicia Adams, Vice President of International Programming at the Kennedy Center.
Of the collaboration between the two institutions, Sundance Institute Theatre Program Artistic Director Philip Himberg said, “Our program with the Kennedy Center allows us to meaningfully extend the work of developing new plays from the Middle East and Northern Africa to actually presenting this work to audiences in a theatrical setting at our country’s most important institution for performance.”
Playwright and performer Amer Hlehel’s TAHA, based on the life of the celebrated Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, whose poetry explored the experiences of Palestinian refugees, will be performed on March 15 and 16, 2017 at 7:30p.m. Adapted from Adina Hoffman’s book, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, this tour de force solo performance powerfully communicates the sorrow, humor, resilience, and tender humanity of this extraordinary man and artist. This world premiere of the English-language version, developed in the July 2015 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, will be directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, a leading theater director in the Middle East who is currently commissioned to write new plays for the Union of Theatres of Europe and the Royal National Theatre in London.
Written, produced, and performed by Raeda Taha, and directed by Lina Abyad, Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali? will make its U.S. premiere at the Kennedy Center on March 23 and 24, 2017 at 7:30p.m. Taha, daughter of Ali Taha, in painful candor faces emotional loss of a father who can never be replaced, and the reality of being an orphan, while turning the women of her family into real-life heroines. Taha is also an alumna of the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab in Morocco and at MASS MoCA.
The final piece in the collaboration with Sundance Institute is Creative Tensions: HOME, which will take place on March 25, 2017 at 2:00p.m. Creative Tensions explores the opposing forces that inform our daily lives and is a collective conversation expressed in movement, wherein participants reveal where they stand on an issue by virtue of where they stand in a room. Guided by moderator Philip Himberg and provoked by speakers who approach the topic from different perspectives, Creative Tensions is an eye-opening, reflective, and inspiring live experience crafted in collaboration with IDEO, a global design firm.
Once again, Adams has brought The Georgetown University Laboratory for Global Performance to collaborate with the Kennedy Center on this initiative. Cynthia P. Schneider, Co-Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics says, “Over the past decade the Lab and the Kennedy Center have collaborated on many projects including the Arabesque Festival (2009) which featured artists from 22 countries of the Arab world. The Sundance Institute partnership and the productions that will result from it seem to be exactly the kind of cultural exchange, one that opens doors of understanding and opportunity, that the world needs now. We are very excited to partner with the Kennedy Center once again on what is sure to be a powerful program.”
TAHA will be performed on March 15 and 16, 2017 at 7:30p.m. Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali? will be performed on March 23 and 24, 2017 at 7:30p.m. Creative Tensions: HOME will take place on March 25, 2017 at 2:00p.m. All three events will be in the Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery. For more information please visit the Kennedy Center website, in-person at the Kennedy Center box office, or call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Theater at the Kennedy Center is made possible by Adrienne Arsht.
The Kennedy Center Theater Season is sponsored by Altria Group
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania 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 www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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