NEW YORK CITY: Noor Theatre has announced its third Artists Advancing Cultural Change Cohort, composed of writers Jacob Kader, Haleh Roshan, Betty Shamieh, and Hadi Tabbal.
The Artists Advancing Cultural Change program commissions each artist to create work of their chosen medium in response to contemporary American culture through a Middle Eastern lens. Noor’s commissioned pieces strive to illustrate the viewpoint of many diasporic communities, to drive cultural and narrative change in the United States, and to create a pipeline to share the commissioned works with mass audiences.
Jacob Kader is a writer and producer. With Lameece Issaq he co-wrote the film Abe, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He made his Off-Broadway debut as co-author of Food and Fadwa at New York Theater Workshop in 2012, followed by productions and staged readings in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Iowa, Michigan, and Minneapolis. His projects have received support and development grants from Sundance Institute/Jordan Film Commission, the Jerome Foundation, the Edgerton and Robert Sterling Clark Foundations. He is actively developing stories for stage and screens. Kader is researching and developing a play about the Palestinian American civil rights activist Alex Odeh, killed in 1985 when his offices in Santa Ana, Calif., were firebombed, in a case that remains unsolved.
Haleh Roshan is an Iranian American writer with hereditary neuropathy (CMT). Her work fuses leftist politics with intercultural narratives to challenge global power structures and trouble conceptions of identity and ability. Her plays A Play Titled After the Collective Noun for Female-Identifying 20-Somethings Living in New York City in the 2010s and FREE FREE FREE FREE are published by Dramatists Play Service. Previous pilots include Bellwether (2016 Austin Film Festival Second-Round Semi-Finalist) and The Legitimate (Screen Craft Quarter Finalist). Roshan’s Noor commission is a pilot for The Rhizome, a show situated in a near, neoliberalized future, where climate collapse is un-ignorable, as the world’s wealthy have deployed all modern tools of militarized borders around economically important cities, violently defending continued resource extraction and enforcing climate displacement for the disenfranchised.
Betty Shamieh‘s theatre productions include The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop), Territories (EU Capital of Culture Festival), Fit for a Queen (The Classical Theatre of Harlem), and Roar (the New Group), which was the first play about a Palestinian American family produced Off-Broadway, now taught at universities across the country. A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, Shamieh was awarded a Guggenheim and a Radcliffe playwriting fellowship. Shamieh is developing a new screenplay, As Soon As Impossible, based on her commissioned play from the Second Stage/Time Warner Commissioning program. Shamieh is currently the Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at the Classical Theatre of Harlem and a visiting artist at Stanford. For her commission, Shamieh will write Mecca of Comedy, an original half-hour television pilot, inspired by her play Roar, about a raunchy Arab female comic trying to move her career forward while living in the midst of the extremely conservative Arab American community of Detroit.
Hadi Tabbal is a New York City-based writer and actor, born and raised in Lebanon. Tabbal was a resident playwright at Berkeley Rep’s GroundFloor program, where he developed his first play, The Remnants. His second play, Icarus in Berytus, was selected as a semi-finalist at Playwrights Realm in New York. As an actor, Tabbal starred as Amir Al-Raisani in NBC’s drama The Brave, and he will play the lead role in the Public Theater’s production of Mona Mansour’s The Vagrant Trilogy (interrupted by the pandemic). Tabbal is a member of the Middle Eastern Writers Group at The Lark Play Development Center and an adjunct assistant professor at CUNY York College. Previously, he was an artistic associate with the Sundance Theater Institute. Tabbal holds an M.F.A from The New School for Drama and is a past recipient of the Fulbright Grant. For his Noor commission, Tabbal will work on the second play in his Beirut series, focusing on the idea of modern colonialism, and how the tension between donor countries and the global South trickles down to the relationship between a small group of people working in an American NGO in Lebanon.
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