Join us for Malvolio on Monday, February 3 & Tuesday, February 4.
Interview by Hayley Finn, PWC Associate Artistic Director
Hayley Finn: What was your impulse for creating a sequel to Twelfth Night?
Betty Shamieh: I come from an immigrant family, and the first plays I saw were through high school programs. I encountered Shakespeare’s work on the page before seeing it on stage, and Twelfth Night was the first play of his that I read.
Bay Area audiences, thank you for your continuous support for a San Francisco native playwright like me. "It’s been a while since the Bay Area was treated to one of Betty Shamieh’s plays...By and large, though, local fans of Shamieh’s work have largely had to read about her new plays in New York and elsewhere."
Our team was delighted to find out that our production of The Strangest was included in The New York Times Spring Arts Preview “32 Reasons to Get Out & Get Off The Couch”, a guide to their selection of this spring’s most promising live events.
Hi Everyone! Am so thrilled to be working with May Adrales on The Strangest. Info from the official press info is below.
The Strangest, directed by May Adrales (“Vietgone”), will run at the Fourth Street Theatre in New York City from March 11 – April 1. Sixteen performances only!
The Strangest invites audiences into an immersive theatrical experience in which they enter a traditional Arab storytelling café, where for centuries masters of the oral tradition wove tales of intrigue. The Strangest is an absurdist murder mystery loosely inspired by the unnamed Arab killed in Albert Camus’ classic novel, The Stranger. Experience French Algiers on the brink of revolution, and witness three Arab brothers vie for the love of the same woman. Their bitter rivalry ends only when one is gunned down by a French stranger. Written by Betty Shamieh (The Black Eyed, Roar, Fit for a Queen) and directed by May Adrales (Vietgone, Luce)
French Algeria was a hybrid of Eastern and Western cultures that...
BETTY SHAMIEH isn’t in the house tonight, but she is on stage.
The small Off Broadway theater staging Fit for a Queen, her latest play, is sparely lit. The glitz of the set’s palace—flashing lights, booming music, scantily draped slaves bearing platters of fruit and flowers—has receded. Queen Hatshepsut, till now languid on her throne, jumps up, her cool cracking: “You know I hate it when you make it sound like you don’t love me.”
The figure at whom Hatshepsut lashes out is Senenmut, her favorite slave, who is prostrate on the floor. In the language of the play, “favorite” is code for consort-by-coercion, but with that role comes an expectation that the coercion remain unspoken. Senenmut becomes “sweet Senenmut”; Hatshepsut is “Happy,” and open to affectionate ribbing. But now, Senenmut invokes her servility, cutting Happy to the bone. If she can goad the queen into offing her dying husband, the pharaoh, and claiming the throne, then Senenmut—through the woman who loves her (and who...
INTRODUCTION to Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diaspora
It is so strange how one word can have two hauntingly different meanings. Such is the case with a word like “exposed.” Do we want really our community, ourselves, and our children to be exposed?
If you see exposure as meaning that you possess a deep understanding of the perspectives of other kinds of people, yes. But, if you see it as meaning you are unprotected and physically vulnerable, probably not.
You might assume that most “learned” people would say that they don’t mind that their minds are exposed to other ways of seeing the world. You could argue that it is only our bodies that we are precarious about putting places where others can access.
But, this is a false assumption. Most of us are deeply, even savagely, invested in preserving our own worldview. We are taught to insist that our own version of history is the most important story, usually in the blind and instinctual way that we are sure -...
The last performance of the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of Fit for a Queen will be Sunday.
Fit for a Queen is the earliest play of mine I still list on my website. In some ways, it’s my first real play.
I wrote it at a point when I was profoundly disillusioned with politics in general and the activists I knew in particular, most especially myself.
I had begun to see everything anyone did as a ploy for power and attention. The professors and student speakers at rallies for causes I cared about seemed like wanna-demagogues, preaching to the converted for their own aggrandizement. When I was asked to speak, I too felt like a wannabe-demagogue who cared more about how I came off than what I actually accomplished.
It seemed myopically cruel to organize conferences about refugees at Ivy League colleges and end them by blowing a ton of our university’s money on fancy meals for our invited speakers and ourselves. Yet, how I enjoyed those meals!
In Gallery 115 of the Egyptian Art wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there are several statues of Hatshepsut, both as a woman and a man. The female Hatshepsut ruled ancient Egypt as Pharaoh, a title reserved for men and considered higher than Queen. And like many controversial and powerful women, she was then erased by history. Playwright Betty Shamieh is bringing Hatshepsut back into focus with her new play Fit for a Queen, which is being produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem and running at 3LD Art & Technology Center through October 30th. Betty’s work has been performed and workshopped in numerous theatres, both in New York and throughout Europe. Other plays include The Black Eyed, Roar, and Again and Against. She’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship and two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships....
Entry #4 of Countdown to the Classical Theatre of Harlem production of FIT FOR A QUEEN
So, here it is!
The fantastic list of actors who are going to make our comedy come to life next week.
April Yvette Thompson*.............Hatshepshut
John Clarence Stewart*.............Wanre
Gilbert Cruz*.............................Thutmose II
Tiffany Nicole Webb..................Ensemble
Not every day for a playwright is a good day. In fact, let’s face it. Many days are not. Most of us are broke or bitter about our day jobs. Our lives are riddled with rejection. The clearest sign that you have “made it” in your chosen field is that someone wants to pay you a lot of money to leave...
Entry Number #3 of Countdown to the Classical Theatre of Harlem Production of FIT FOR A QUEEN
Often, the same word in English is used very differently.
For example, let’s take the word “occupation.”
It means job.
It also means military control of a civilian population by a more powerful foreign power.
Another example is the word “cast.”
What does it mean to cast a dye?
Does one particular way we use a word
how we view the other seeming unrelated ways also we use it?
Freud would say it did on a subconscious level
Elia Kazan definitely said much of his job as a director was casting.
(I would argue he also did much of what wasn’t his job, which included acting like a scared little lily-livered beyach and naming names for the House on Un-American Activities when he could have instead used like his power and visibility to support the Group Theatre artists who lost their livelihoods and careers due to daring to flirt with radical politics. But, that’s a rant for a differ...