An Ambitious International Collaboration among Iranian, Israeli and American Artists is worth your support! Created by Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Motti Lerner, Roberta Levitow, Daniel Michaelson and Torange Yeghiazarian
San Francisco - Golden Thread Productions' 10th Anniversary Season opens with an ambitious international collaboration, Benedictus, bringing together acclaimed artists from Iran, Israel and the United States: Motti Lerner, one of Israel's most provocative contemporary playwrights, Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of Golden Thread, Iranian-American director Mahmood Karimi-Hakak of Siena College and American designer Daniel Michaelson of Bennington College and designer for the acclaimed 'Spring Awakening' at the Public Theatre, and dramaturg Roberta Levitow, founder of Theatre Without Borders. Propelled by world events and against a backdrop of an imminent US invasion of Iran, two estranged childhood friends, one Jewish and one Muslim, born in the same town in Iran, agree to a secret meeting in a Benedictine monastery in Rome to negotiate a price for safety and freedom. The cast includes renowned Iranian theatre and cinema thespian, Ali Pourtash,* Egyptian born Arab-American actor, Al Faris*, most recently seen in 'The Unit' at the invitation of its creator, David Mamet, as well as veteran Bay Area performer, Earll Kingston*. The play runs September 29th through October 21st at the Thick House in San Francisco. Opening night reception will be hosted by Baraka Restaurant. For more information visit www.goldenthread.org.
'When we began the Iran/Israel/US project two years ago,' says Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, 'we didn't imagine how disturbingly timely the subject of US-Iran relations would be today.' Given the impossibility of meeting in Iran and the complexities of meeting in Israel, these artists are working in the US to create collaborative theatre in the midst of escalating political conflict amongst their home countries. The piece created offers an opportunity to engage non-violently and creatively with the historical, social, religious and aesthetic dimensions of this crucial inter-relationship. Benedictus explores how the relationship among Iran, Israel, and United States is impacting the world. The work began in the summer of 2005 as the Iran/Israel/US Project, with a two-week residency at Siena College in upstate New York and has continued over the past two years.
The central premise of Benedictus was inspired by an actual event. In 2005, President Mohammad Khatami of Iran and President Moshe Katsav of Israel were seated alphabetically at the service for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Although the two countries had broken off diplomatic relations in 1979 with the fall of the Shah and the installation of the revolutionary government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the two presidents apparently shook hands and exchanged a few words in Farsi, since they both had been born some 50 years earlier in the Iranian province of Yazd.
Mahmood Karimi-Hakak is the Artistic Director of Mahak International Artists Inc. and a Professor of Creative Arts at Siena College, has written, produced, directed, designed and/or acted in over 50 stage and screen plays in the U.S., Europe and his native Iran. His plays and films have received international acclaim and awards at such festivals as Edinburgh, Netherlands, Berlin, Delhi, Montreal, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Maryland and Tehran. A recipient of the 2005 Raymond C. Kennedy Award, Dr. Karimi-Hakak’s literary credits include five plays, two books of poetry, several translations from and into Persian and numerous articles and interviews both in English and Persian. Prior to his tenure at Siena, he taught theatre in Belgium, Germany and his native Iran, as well as CUNY, Towson and Southern Methodist Universities here in the U.S. and served as Artistic Director of Community of International Artists (CIA), Forough Ensemble (FE) and Creative Arts Street Theatre (CAST).