NY Theater presents Arab American struggles in Jim Crow era

NY Theater presents Arab American struggles in Jim Crow era
Share this Story:

This post has been viewed 9464 times.

NY Theater presents Arab American struggles in Jim Crow era


Noor Theatre makes Michigan debut at Arab American National Museum Dec. 8 as part of Museum’s Artists + Residents program 

Dearborn, Mich. (Nov. 29, 2017) – The Global Fridays Fall 2017 season at the Arab American National Museum (AANM) closes with Dead Are My People. Playwright Ismail Khalidi’s staged reading will be performed by Noor Theatre and features live musical accompaniment led by Hadi Eldebek. The performance takes place at AANM in the Aliya Hassan Auditorium at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. The staged reading will be followed by audience question and answer session with Khalidi, Eldebek and members of Noor Theatre.

Inspired by Khalil Gibran’s poem of the same name, Dead Are My People follows Nicola, who flees the famine-stricken mountains of Lebanon for the U.S. during World War I. Once there, he hopes to track down his uncle Tanios who emigrated years before. Finding few traces of Tanios and receiving conflicting information from townspeople, Nicola must ultimately navigate the treacherous terrain of the Jim Crow South.

Arab American National Museum. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Arab American National Museum. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“This production explores a moment in history that has shaped the lives of so many Arab Americans whose stories are like those of the character Nicola’s — negotiating their place in this country either as people of color or as white-passing individuals. This is a struggle that continues to affect our community today,” says AANM’s Curator of Education & Public Programming Ryah Aqel.

Ismail Khalidi is a playwright and director who has written, performed, curated and taught internationally. His plays include Foot (Teatro Amal, 2016-17), Sabra Falling (Pangea World Theater, 2017) and Returning to Haifa (Finborough Theatre, 2018). His writing on politics and culture has appeared in The Nation, American Theatre Magazine and Remezcla.

Khalidi’s time in Dearborn as a resident artist — where he will be workshopping the play with community members and conducting research — is an important step toward the piece’s final form.

“We are honored to have Ismail Khalidi and Noor Theatre develop this important piece of work as part of AANM’s Artists + Residents program. Bringing Noor Theatre’s first full-length production to AANM was a natural fit for us as we strive to support Arab American theater in the community,” adds Aqel.

The live music that will accompany the staged reading was written by Hadi Eldebek and will be performed by four musicians on instruments including oud, banjo, clarinet, and vibraphone. Dave Jones, a Lebanese American and founding member of Detroit-based indie band Frontier Ruckus, will play banjo in the ensemble.

Khalidi will also serve as a panelist during a related event taking place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History titled White Supremacy: Arab and African American Experiences in the Jim Crow South. Other panelists include scholars Dr. Sarah Gualtieri, whose research provided historical context for Dead Are My People, and Dr. Christian Davenport, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan. Discussants will explore the distinct yet intersecting experiences of Arab and African American communities confronting white supremacy, from Jim Crow to today. The panel will be moderated by AANM’s Research & Content Manager, Dr. Matthew Jaber Stiffler.

Prior to the Dec. 8 show at 6:30 p.m., AANM offers guests an opportunity to stroll through its new exhibition, THEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence, a project created by the Jim Crow Museum to highlight hurtful stereotypes.Tickets are $10 AANM Members and $15 general public and are available here: http://arabamericanmuseum.org/GF-Fall-17.

This performance of Dead Are My People is made possible in part by the National Performance Network (NPN) and MAP Fund.

Global Fridays is made possible in part by Comerica Bank and the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, as well as media sponsors Downtown Monitor and CJAM 99.1 FM.


The Arab American National Museum (AANM) documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions. 

AANM is an institution of Dearborn, Mich.-based human-services agency ACCESS, the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S. 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.

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI, 48126. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under and Museum Members, free.

Visit www.arabamericanmuseum.org or call 313.582.2266 for further information.


AANM is a partner of the National Performance Network (NPN). This project is made possible in part by support from the NPN/VAN Artist Engagement Fund. Major contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information visit www.npnweb.org.

Facebook Comments

The Arab Daily News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

This post has been viewed 9464 times.



Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

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.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Share this Story: