rlevitow March 27, 2009 No Comments

Staging the Middle East in Theatre and Through Performance, University of California Riverside

Staging the Middle East in Theatre and Through Performance

Department of Theatre

University of California, Riverside

FOR MORE INFORMATION:   erithj@ucr.edu 

April 3 – 4, 2009



Conference Convener:

Erith Jaffe-Berg, UC Riverside.



College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages

Honors Program

Department of Media & Cultural Studies

Middle East and Islamic Studies Group

 Office of Research

Department of Theatre

Department of Women’s Studies




This conference brings together artists and scholars from North America, Europe and the Middle East in order to explore how theatre and other performative contexts, such as digital media, fashion, installation art, pedagogy and poetry critically engage in the staging of the Middle East and its peoples, cultures and conflicts.



Schedule of Events


All sessions in the Johnson Boardroom of the Alumni Center unless otherwise noted


Morning- afternoons (arrivals, conference check-ins)

8-8:20            Coffee and Registration


8:20            Welcome words and introduction by convener.


8:30 – 9:40            Session I: “Casting” Arab Identities in Pedagogy and Performance

             Moderator: Erith Jaffe-Berg, UCR


            “(Mis)Representing Arabness: Transporting Wajdi Mouawad’s Littoral/Tideline

              From Stage to Screen,” Michael Najjar, UCLA.


            “Wajdi Mouawad: Reshaping the Geography of Québécois Theatre”

             Bernard Lavoie, L’Université du Québec, Montréal


              “’Teaching Arabic and…?’ Performative Language Pedagogy and the Formation

             of Hybrid Identity in Al-Kitaab fii ta alum al-arabiya

             Marc Boucai, University of California, Berkeley


9:45 – 10:55   Session II: Space in Performative Transactions

             Moderator: Sherine Hafez, UCR


            “Hybrid Traditions: The Adventure of Saadallah Wannous”

             Nesrin Alrefaai, Warwick University, UK


            “Oppositional Theatre in Syria: Naila Al-Atrash Direct Saadallah Waannous” 

             Edward Ziter, New York University


             “Egyptian Theatre Reclaiming its Old Spaces”

             Prof. Dina Amin, Villanova University, invited guest


11:00  – 12:10 Session III:  Staging Dispossession in Mixed Mediums & Media

              Moderator: Stephanie Hammer, UCR


              “Staging Dispossession”

              Jeffrey Sacks, UCR


              “Ambiguity of Place: Domesticating Identity in the Postexilic Narrative of              

              Mona Hatoum”

              Yael Samuel, Otis College of Art and Design.


             “Performance of Power and Resistance: Suicide Bombers in Front of the                         


               Rana Salimi, UCSD


12:00 – 1:15            LUNCH – welcome words from the Dean of the College of Humanities                                     and Social Sciences

                        Conference Room A, Alumni Center


1: 20 – 1:50      Invited Lecture: “Dangerous Liaisons:

                         The Allure of the Veiled Monologue”

                         Hala Nassar, Yale University


                         Discussant: Tiffany Lopez, UCR


2: 00 – 3:30 Session IV: Querying the ‘Middle East’ in Drama and Through Performance

            “The Shifting Context: Reading the Middle East and North Africa through                            Performance”

              Laura Chakravarty Box, Colby College


            “The Fabric of Middle Eastern Bodies: Three Instances of Performance”

             Alexandru Balasescu, National School of Political and Administrative                         

                 Studies, Bucharest, Romania.


            “To Be an American is To Be Punished: Two Rooms, Someone to Watch

            Over Me and the Dramatic Construction of American-Middle Eastern


            Kevin Wetmore, Loyola Marymount University


3: 45 – 4:45            Performance: Betty Shamieh

                        Conference Room B, Alumni Center


                        Betty Shamieh will perform excerpts from her two works

                        The Black Eyed and Chocolate in Heat. Question and Answer and

                        book signing to follow performance.


                        Discussant: Rickerby Hinds, UCR


Betty Shamieh is a Palestinian-American actor, playwright, and screenwriter. She is the author of 15 plays for which she has been awarded grants by the NEA, TCG and the Ford Foundation. Her plays have been produced by The New York Theatre Workshop, The New Group and Magic Theatre, and her plays have been developed by The Public Theatre and The Royal Court.

Betty Shamieh is a playwright


5:00 – 6:00             Light hors d’oeuvres served.

                        Arroyo Vista Café, Alumni Center


6:00 – 7:00     Break  


7:00 – 9:30            Performed Reading and Discussion: Benedictus

                        Reading will take place in the Theatre Lab on campus, HUMN 411.


                          Creative Team for Benedictus: Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Motti Lerner,

 Roberta Levitow, Torange Yeghiazarian and  Daniel Michaelson. 


The reading is directed by Eric Barr, Chair, Department of Theatre, UCR


Discussant: Martin Plot, Cal Arts


Benedictus is a collaboration by artists from Israel, Iran and the United States, including the prominent Israeli playwright Motti Lerner, Iranian-American director Mahmood Karimi-Hakak of Siena College, the American dramaturge Roberta Levitow, designer Daniel Michaelson of Bennington College, and Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco.

The play imagines the 42 hours preceding a US attack on Iran. An Israeli arms dealer and an Iranian politician engage in a secret meeting, set against the background of Rome, to prevent this attack.




8:00 – 8:30      Coffee & Pastries

8:30 – 9:45             Session V: Staging the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict     


            “’Home’ Claims and “Israel Guilt’: Jonathan Lichtenstein’s Memory and Jason

             Grote’s 1001

             Shelly Salamensky, UCLA


            “The Carousel of Revenge on the Israeli-Palestinian Stage”

             Motti Sandak, International Institute for Jewish and Israeli Culture


            “Dual Transgressions: Hanoch Levine’s Murder”

             David Gorshein, UCLA


10:00 – 11:30            Performative responses: Round Panel of Writers speaking to the issue

             of “staging the Middle East” in their works

             Moderator: Stuart Krieger, UCR


             Performance Interlude: Muslima Monologues

             Mehnaz-Mona Afridi, Levantine Cultural Centre & CSULB


             Susan Merson, A Bounty of Lace



             Damon Chua, writing in Singapore


             Sarah Treem, writer, “In Treatment” HBO series.


             Betty Shamieh, The Black Eyed and Chocolate in Heat


11:30            Closing comments by the convener, responses.


12:00            Conference officially ends.




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