Each month on The Subtext, Brian speaks with a playwright about life, writing, and whatever itches we are scratching.
This month Brian travels to Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill., to chat with writer/director Kareem Fahmy. A Canadian-born director, playwright, and screenwriter of Egyptian descent, Fahmy has directed and developed plays at theatres nationwide, including Dodi & Diana (O’Neill NPC finalist, world premiere at Colt Coeur), American Fast (Woodward/Newman Award Winner, NNPN rolling world premiere at Artists Repertory Theatre, City Theatre, InterAct), A Distinct Society (co-world premiere at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Pioneer Theatre, and Writers Theatre), The Triumphant (Target Margin), Pareidolia, The In-Between (Noor Theatre), and an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Yacoubian Building. Kareem has been a fellow or resident artist at the Sundance Theatre Lab, MacDowell, Yaddo, New Harmony Project, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Phil Killian Directing Fellow),The Old Globe (Classical Directing Fellow), Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center (National Directors Fellow), Second Stage (Van Lier Directing Fellow), Soho Rep (Writer/Director Lab), Lincoln Center (Directors Lab), the New Museum (artist-in-residence), Stratford Festival, and New York Theatre Workshop (emerging artist fellow and Usual Suspect). And he’s a former TCG Rising Leader of Color. He received his MFA in directing from Columbia University.
Kareem talks about finding his path to theatre as a young person growing up in Canada. As a child of immigrants, he felt a certain pressure to find a practical career, so when he completed undergrad he began a career as a physical therapist. But his love of the stage never waned, so he started a small theatre company in Montreal and directed plays on the side. This went on until someone who saw one of his plays told him, “You should do this as a career.” That put him on the path to Columbia University, where he studied with Anne Bogart.
But it’s Fahmy’s playwriting that has recently taken the spotlight. The current Writers Theatre production of A Distinct Society is his eighth this season. So is this success? When asked the question, first he laughs, then answers seriously: Success is about freedom, including the freedom to write whatever he wants. As the puts it, “My story is not limited to my identity. My stories are rooted in truth, and that truth transcends my lived identity and experience. That will be success to me.”
This episode can also be found here.
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