MRS. GHADA’S PAIN THRESHOLD
by Abdullah Alkafri
translated by Hassan Abdulrazzak
directed by Jenny Koons
Thursday, August 16 | 7pm
Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16th St.
Featuring Amr El-Bayoumi, Gaida, Antoinette LaVecchia, Heather Raffo, and Babak Tafti.
Inspired by the author’s admiration for the Damascene women who “push against the edges of all that constrains them–societal norms, religious propriety, family expectations–in subtle and personally significant ways,” Mrs. Ghada’s Pain Threshold focuses on one such woman who, facing middle age and life as a recently widowed, single woman, unexpectedly meets a man who offers the possibility of a new start. A subtle–almost mysterious–and moving play about coping with the past and trying to find new love.
AMR EL-BAYOUMI (Rabih). An Egyptian-American actor and voice-over artist based in New York City. He has performed in several award-winning short films, feature films, theater and network television productions in the US, England, and Egypt. Most recently he appeared on “House of Cards,” “Mr. Robot,” “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary,” “Quantico” and “Person of Interest.”
GAIDA (Stage Directions, Vocals) is a New York based Syrian Singer. Gaida is widely known as one of the most arresting female vocalists and improvisational artists singing in Arabic today. She was featured on the soundtrack and as an actress in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married. She composed and recorded songs for Anne Hathaway’s play Grounded and for Demme’s documentary Jimmy Carter Man from Plains. Her music from the “Levantine Indulgence” album has been featured in “SEAL Team,” “The First Saturday In May,” and “The Arab Americans.” Gaida was featured on BBC World, and WNYC’s Soundcheck and Spinning on Air. In her “stunning” live performances, Gaida and her world class band perform “entrancing” innovative interpretations of Syrian folk songs and original tunes. Gaida is a voice rehabilitation specialist with a Masters degree in speech pathology from Columbia University. gaidamusic.com | soundcloud.com/radiotarab
ANTOINETTE LAVECCHIA (Mona). Recent: The Portuguese Kid (MTC), Project Dawn (People’s Light), The Blameless (The Old Globe), A Comedy of Tenors (McCarter Theatre, Cleveland Play House). NY: Torch Song (Broadway, Fall 2018), A View From The Bridge (Broadway), String of Pearls (Primary Stages). Film/TV: Team Marco, “Blindspot,” Deliver Us From Evil, “Law & Order: SVU,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Sopranos,” “Killing Kennedy.” Training: MFA Tisch/NYU, Moscow Art Theatre, Philippe Gaulier/Theatre de Complicité. Member of Dramatist Guild, Drama League Fellow, LPTW & The Actor’s Center. www.antoinettelavecchia.com
HEATHER RAFFO (Ghada) is an award-winning playwright and actress whose work has been seen Off-Broadway, Off-West End in regional theater and in film. She is the author and solo performer of the play 9 Parts of Desire (Lucille Lortel award, Susan Smith Blackburn commendation, Drama League, OCC, Helen Hayes nominations), which The New Yorker called “an example of how art can remake the world”. The play was first produced in London’s Off-West End where critics hailed it as one of the five best plays in London. It’s off-Broadway premiere ran for nine sold out months and was a critic’s pick for over twenty-four weeks in a row. Since 2005, 9 Parts of Desire has been produced across the U.S. and was one of the top five most produced plays of the 2007-2008 American theater season. It has had international productions in over a dozen countries with current productions in Greece, Hungary and Sweden. Heather is the librettist for the opera Fallujah, which was developed as part of Kennedy Center’s International Theater Festival, it then received its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in March of 2016 and opened at New York City Opera later that year. A film was made of both the opera as well as a documentary titled Fallujah: Art, Healing and PTSD. Heather’s newest play, Noura, recently won Williamstown’s prestigious Weissberger Award and is on the Kilroy’s List. Noura had its world premiere at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. before moving to Abu Dhabi in the spring of this year. Its New York premiere will be at Playwrights Horizons in their forthcoming 2018/19 season. Raffo’s work has been developed at the Kennedy Center, McCarter, The Public, Epic Theater Ensemble, Arena Stage, Noor Theater, Vancouver City Opera, The Arab American National Museum and at Georgetown’s Lab for Global Performance and Politics. She currently has commissions from the McCarter Theater and Williamstown and is the recipient of multiple grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use theater as a means of bridge building between her Eastern and Western cultures. Her work has taken her to The Aspen Ideas Festival, London’s House of Commons, The U.S. Islamic World Forum and into hundreds of classrooms across our nation and internationally.
BABAK TAFTI (Anas). NYC Credits: Othello (NYSF/Public); Power Strip (WP/Pipeline Festival); Against the Hillside (Ensemble Studio Theater); Small Mouth Sounds (Ars Nova/Signature); The Bachelors (Lesser America/Rattlestick); The North Pool (Vineyard); The In-Between (Noor). Regional: O.P.C. (ART); Scorched (ACT); Guards at The Taj, Blood and Gifts (La Jolla Playhouse); The North Pool, Much Ado About Nothing (Barrington Stage Company); The Winter’s Tale, Arabian Nights (HVSF). Recent TV: “Quantico,” “Instinct.” Upcoming: “Elementary.” MFA: Yale School of Drama.
ABDULLAH ALKAFRI (Playwright), a playwright and cultural activist, who works as a trainer in topics related to the field of culture with many organizations. A regular participant at conferences and forums on culture and art. He is a founding member and Executive Director of Ettijahat- Independent Culture: a Syrian cultural organization founded in the end of 2011 seeks to play a pivotal role in building a Syrian culture that is dynamic, democratic and diverse, taking into account the challenges experienced by Syrian society, through creating sustainable opportunities for artists, researchers and cultural operators, and enhancing the environment and forms of cultural expression, in addition to integrating creative work with social change. Abdullah is a permanent contributor to international and regional conferences and forums as a researcher and a facilitator. His interests focus in the first place on the main roles that Art and culture can play during times of crises. Also on the level of enabling cultural practices in finding different ways, and opportunities to support artists in spite of challenges such as censorship on freedoms. Abdullah is a director and dramaturge, who collaborated with a number of artists from the Arab region. Moreover the works he participated in were presented in different international platforms. He graduated in Theatrical Studies from the High Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus, 2004 and completed his Master’s study at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, in the same field in 2015. He is currently a PhD Student at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon.
HASSAN ABDULRAZZAK (Translator). Plays include Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, 2007, Belvoir St Theatre, 2009, Akvarious productions 2010), The Prophet (Gate theatre, 2012), Love, Bombs and Apples (Arcola Theatre, 2016 and UK tour. Golden Thread, San Francisco, 2018) and And Here I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017 and UK and Middle East tour). His translations include The Confession by Wael Qadour, Jogging by Hanane Hajjali, Baghdad Bathhouse by Jawad Alassadi, Voluntary Work by Laila Soliman and 603 by Imad Farajin. He has contributed to several anthologies including Iraq+100 (Comma Press, 2016) and Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic (Saqi books, 2017). He is the recipient of George Devine, Meyer-Whitworth and Pearson theatre awards as well as the Arab British Centre Award for Culture.
JENNY KOONS (Director) Recent projects: Burn All Night (American Repertory Theatre), Airness (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Theatre for One: In This Moment (Pershing Square Signature Center), Instant SPKRBOX (SPKRBOX Festival commission, Norway), Gimme Shelter (Why Not Theatre, Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games commission), Theatre for One: I’m Not the Stranger You Think I Am (Arts Brookfield), Abyme (Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Dixon Place), A Sucker Emcee (National Black Theatre, LAByrinth Theater Company), Queen of the Night (Associate and Resident Director, Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub), The Odyssey Project 2012 (Site-specific across NYC). Jenny is a 2017 Lilly Award recipient and proud member of SDC.