Food and Fadwa
by Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader
directed by Shana Gold
originally produced at New York Theatre Workshop,
New York, NY.
May 18, 2012
through June 24, 2012
Food and Fadwa depicts the story of a family living in the occupied territory of Bethlehem. As the play begins, Fadwa Faranesh prepares for her younger sister Dalal’s wedding to Emir and awaits the arrival of Emir’s brother Youssif (her former lover), all while dealing with the diminishing health of her Baba, Zein Faranesh, the patriarch of the family. An olive farmer by trade, Baba has passed his wisdom and the rich family history down to Fadwa, a talented cook and, currently, the pillar of the family. As the family contends with Israeli occupation interrupting the normalcy of their daily lives, Fadwa often imagines she is the host of a television cooking show, whimsically explaining the culinary delights of her culture. Her sister Dalal is preparing to move to New York with Emir, balancing excitement with the sadness she feels about leaving Fadwa and Baba behind. Tensions are heightened when the family is forced into a 24-hour curfew by the Israeli Defense Force. As the family tries to sustain itself over several days in the house, the struggle between wanting to maintain culture and stability and embrace a more hopeful life in a new world looms large inside of the home.
For over 25 years, NYTW has been devoted to building long-term relationships with artists and giving emerging and established artists alike the space to take risks and explore their creative visions. Further, as a home for project exploration and new collaborations, we aim to support work that pushes theatrical boundaries and reflects the world around us. We accomplish these goals by facilitating several programs that allow us to nurture new work at its earliest stages and provide artists at all stages of their careers with the resources necessary to help their projects succeed. Over the years, we have been proud to support some of the country's most important and innovative theatre by some of the most exciting up-and-coming artists. The list includes Jonathan Larson's Rent, Will Power's The Seven, Claudia Shear's Blown Sideways Through Life and Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's Aftermath.
There are several reasons that we are looking forward to adding Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader to that list of up-and-coming artists and producing their play, Food and Fadwa as part of our 2011/12 Season. In 2006, NYTW began exploring the complex issues surrounding artistic output from and about Palestine. At that point, we began to connect with Nibras, an Arab-American theatre collective, and eventually collaborated to host Aswat: Voices of Palestine, a two-day event of staged readings and discussions where Food and Fadwa first appeared. Since then, NYTW has furthered our relationships with artists of Arab descent and Arab organizations and developed and/or produced a number of plays about the Arab world, including Betty Shamieh's The Black Eyed and Najla Said's Palestine. Food and Fadwa is a direct extension of these relationships and our commitment to utilizing creative expression to contemplate difficult and timely political issues.
The process of developing this play also exemplifies the nuanced relationship a larger theatrical institution, like NYTW, can have with emerging playwrights and their collaborators. . Knowing that the artistic process is different for every project, NYTW has always attempted to respond to the specific needs of each artist. Lameece and Jacob have been especially wonderful to work with in this way, as they have been responsive to goals and continued to ask for guidance, demonstrating their potential as theatre artists and their commitment to the project. This play has grown tremendously over the past three years and first responses at preliminary readings have been extremely positive. Besides producing Food and Fadwa, NYTW has also fostered the development of Lameece Issaq's theatre company, Noor Theatre. I believe that the establishment of a company dedicated to artists of Middle Eastern descent and reclaiming Middle Eastern narratives is essential. Building relationships with artists from diverse backgrounds and supporting their artistic creations has been a priority for NYTW for many years and we look forward to encouraging other projects by members of Noor. We also hope that this project will serve as a successful model of how we can engage other under-represented communities within New York City and include them in our space and activities. We look forward to the production of Food and Fadwa, as it will fulfill NYTW's mission, bolster the careers of another group of emerging artists and offer the public fresh perspective and new stories to consider.
NYTW will use the Edgerton Foundation's New American Play award for an additional week of rehearsal for our world premiere of Lameece Issaq's play Food and Fadwa. The production will have a four week rehearsal period beginning at the end of January 2012 before moving into our 199-seat theatre at 79 East 4th Street in Manhattan's East Village for six weeks of performances. With a cast of seven, the play will benefit from increased rehearsal time. The actors will have the opportunity to add greater nuance to their portrayal of a family in East Bethlehem and the playwrights and director will have a chance to make final adjustments to the script. A touching and thought-provoking new play, Food and Fadwa promises to present audiences in New York, or later on in other parts of the country, with a fresh outlook on life in the Middle East.
Director: Shana Gold