Sunday, May 7
Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E 3rd Street, Second Avenue/F Train)
FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.
Desert of Light
Written by Rama Haydar (Syria)
Translated by Rama Haydar & Rebekah Maggor
Directed by Rebekah Maggor
Discussion moderated by Frank Hentschker, Marvin Carlson
As the brutal siege rages outside, two Palestinian refugees debate the best plan of escape. Set outside Damascus in the Yarmouk refugee camp, this black tragicomedy reveals the catastrophic absurdity of the Syrian civil war.
Rama Haydar is a Palestinian writer from Syria. She has written scripts for theatre, film, television, and radio. She studied English literature at the University of Damascus in Syria as well as theatre studies and criticism at the Damascus High Institute of Dramatic Arts. Her play Exile, (grant recipient, A. M. Qattan Foundation) focuses on the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, the main Palestinian camp in Damascus. Her short film Leaving Home, is a narrative documentary of her experience leaving Syria and relocating to Lebanon. She has also written over sixty episodes for the popular Lebanese television series Life School. Haydar resides in Spain where she has written several pieces for the site-specific micro theatre troupe HEXAGONO.
Rebekah Maggor is an artist and scholar whose work focuses on political theatre and theatre of protest. She translates, directs, devises, and researches theatre that questions entrenched power structures and pushes the boundaries of our contemporary political conversation. She co-edited, co-translated and wrote the introduction to Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution (Seagull Books) and she is currently co-editing, with Marvin Carlson and Mas’ud Hamdan, an anthology of new Palestinian drama, Theatre Between Home and Exile: New Palestinian Voices. Maggor has directed performances of her translations at the Huntington Theatre Company, the Segal Theatre Center, the ReOrient Festival, and at Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Cornell. She has received grants from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the NEA, the Doris Duke Foundation, TCG Global Connections, the Radcliffe Institute, the Einaudi Center, and others. She is assistant professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University.
Marvin Carlson is the Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center. He has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the ASTR Distinguished Scholarship Award, the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, and the Calloway Prize. He is the founding editor of the journals European Stages and Arab Stages; and the author of over two hundred and fifty scholarly articles in the areas of theatre history, theatre theory and dramatic literature. He is the director of the Marvin Carlson Theatre Center at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Among his books are The Theatre of the French Revolution (1966), Goethe and the Weimar Theatre (1978), Theories of the Theatre (1984), Places of Performance (1989), Performance: A Critical Introduction (1996), The Haunted Stage (2001), Speaking in Tongues (2006), Theatre is More Beautiful than War (2009), The Theatres of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia (with Khalid Amine, 2012) and Hamlet’s Shattered Mirror (2016). His work has been translated into fifteen languages.
Frank Hentschker holds a Ph.D. in theatre from the legendary Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany. He came to the Graduate Center in 2001 as program director for the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and was appointed to the central doctoral faculty in theatre in 2009. He taught Theatre History at the School of the Arts at Columbia University. Among the vital events and series he founded at the Segal Center are the World Theatre Performance series, the annual fall PRELUDE festival, and the PEN World Voices Playwrights Series. Before coming to the Graduate Center, Hentschker founded and directed DISCURS, the largest European student theatre festival existing today; he acted as Hamlet in Heiner Müller’s Hamletmaschine, directed by the playwright, performed in the Robert Wilson’s play The Forest (music by David Byrne) and worked as an assistant for Robert Wilson for many years.
Learn more about The PEN World Voices: International Play Festival.