We are four theatre directors of Middle Eastern and North African descent. We are based geographically across the U.S. from coast to coast, and our heritage is likewise spread across the Middle East — from Egypt to Iran, Armenia to Turkey.
We are committed to bringing more stories and artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) to the stage and screen, with respect for the multiplicity of cultures, languages, and religions of these regions. We believe in the power of storytelling to deepen our shared humanity,
We believe that increasing the visibility of MENASA stories is critical to deepening our national empathy.
We believe in the importance of centering the voices of artists who identify as part of the MENASA-American community in telling these stories.
We believe that the American theatre must reject cultural conflation, and lift up the complicated and intersectional reality of MENASA communities.
We believe that our work in the American theatre is part of a larger movement towards inclusion and equity.
Maia (Arabic): Water
Mayeh (Farsi): Melodic contour, the movement of a melody
Ma’ayan (Hebrew): Spring, brook
Maya (Turkish): Leaven, yeast
Maya (Hindi / Sanskrit): Magic, illusion
Μαῖα (Greek and Roman): Maia is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Maia embodied the concept of growth, related to maius/maior meaning "larger, greater."
Like our community, the word Maia contains multitudes. Contested and debated, with many spellings and infinite variations, Maia contains a river of song, of rising and growing, always complex but always generous, nurturing, and forward-moving.
Raised by Egyptian immigrants in French-speaking Canada, Kareem is a director, playwright, and developer of new work. He is currently the Phil Killian Directing Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was a 2017-2018 National Directors Fellow, and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. He holds an MFA in theatre directing from Columbia University and lives in New York City
Born and raised in Turkey, Evren is a theater director, adapter, and producer. He is currently the Interim Associate Artistic Director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and has previously served as the Director of New Plays at Golden Thread Productions. As an immigrant, queer artist of Muslim background, he brings a multifaceted and layered approach to his work, especially as it relates to Middle Eastern narratives.
The daughter of an Armenian molecular biologist and a Jewish playwright, Megan is a freelance theatre director and the Director-in-Residence at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA. She is passionate about the development of diverse new American plays and writers, and supporting theatres to work towards inclusion and equity on and off stage.
Pirronne is an Iranian-American director, writer, and educator, and was recently appointed as Geva Theatre Center’s Associate Artistic Director and Director of Engagement. Both in New York and regionally, she directs and devises new work that puts women and people of color at the center of the narrative. Pirronne also teaches and guest directs at Columbia, Fordham, Juilliard, NYU, and Yale School of Drama, among others.
Left: Jeffrey Frace, Maha Chehlaoui, Gisela Chipe, and Ahmad Maksoud in The Life Model directed by Pirrone Yousefzadeh at On the Boards. Photo by Tim Summers.
Center: Leila Buck and Babak Tafti in The In-Between written and directed by Kareem Fahmy at Noor Theatre, Photo by Adam Abel.
Right: (L to R) Julian Lopez Morillas, Munaf Alsafi, Wiley Naman Strasser, and Camila Betancourt Ascencio in Mona Mansour's Urge For Going, directed by Evren Odcikin at Golden Thread Productions. Photo by David Allen Studio.
"Performer Database" page:
Danny Bryck and Maria Jung in Eleanor Burgess's Chill, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Photo by Meghan Moore.