Arian Moayed, Heather Raffo and More Serve Food and Fadwa, a Feast of Politics, Opening June 7
By Kenneth Jones
Tony Award nominee Arian Moayed of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is among cast members of New York Theatre Workshop/Noor Theatre's Middle East-set play Food and Fadwa, about cooking and politics, opening Off-Broadway June 7 following previews from May 18.
Moayed was Musa, the conflicted Iraqi translator in the 2011 Broadway run of Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger, for which the actor was nominated as Best Featured Actor in a Play.
NYTW and Noor Theatre collaborate on the world-premiere production of the play written by Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader, with direction by Shana Gold. NYTW is at 79 E. 4th Street in the East Village.
The cast also includes Maha Chehlaoui (Aftermath, Guthrie's Peer Gynt), Laith Nakli (Aftermath), Lameece Issaq (The Black Eyed, Stuff Happens), Kathryn Kates (Canal Park Playhouse's Inadmissable), Heather Raffo (Off-Broadway's 9 Parts of Desire) and Haaz Sleiman (of the film "The Visitor" and TV's "Nurse Jackie"). (Nasser Faris left the production during previews.)
Here's how the collaborating companies bill the play: "Meet Fadwa Faranesh, an unmarried, 30-something Palestinian woman living in Bethlehem in the politically volatile West Bank. Known for her delectable cooking and deep-seated sense of duty to her family and aging father, our kitchen maven insists on continuing the preparations for the wedding of her younger sister despite constraints of daily life under occupation. In Food and Fadwa politics blend with family tensions to create a sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking meal of a play that melds the fight a Palestinian family wages to hold onto its traditional culture with its need to celebrate love, joy, and hope."
The creative team includes scenic designer Andromache Chalfant; costume designer Gabriel Berry; lighting designer Japhy Weideman; sound designer Jane Shaw; and production stage manager Lindsey Turtletaub. Original music is by Jane Shaw, Amir ElSaffar and George Ziadeh; music consultation is by George Ziadeh and Amir ElSaffar.
Food and Fadwa marks the first major production in the collaboration between New York Theatre Workshop and Noor Theatre, a company that makes new work from a Middle Eastern-American perspective.
The partnership is part of NYTW's Companies-in-Residence program "that provides support and resources to further the growth and development of emerging theatre companies."
Food and Fadwa plays Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM; Thursday and Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM; Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM.
Noor Theatre "is dedicated to supporting, developing and presenting the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent." The troupe's name means "light" in Arabic and Farsi. Noor seek to illuminate "diverse perspectives to foster greater understanding and diversify America's rich theatrical tapestry." The company was founded in 2010 by New York theatre-makers artistic director Lameece Issaq, executive director Maha Chehlaoui and producing artistic director Nancy Vitale. New York Theatre Workshop provides artistic and organizational support to further the company's development. Noor aims to create exceptional work that transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to all people. Visit noortheatre.org.
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