Meet Dina El-Aziz
Dina is one of the busiest costume designers working today. Current and upcoming projects include Nine Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, directed by Evren Odcikin (Portland Center Stage), Noura by Heather Raffo, directed by Taibi Magar (The Guthrie, January), King Lear, directed by Stephen Brown-Fried (Northern Stage, January). Maia Directors sat down with Dina for a Q&A.
Maia Directors: Hi Dina! Tell us something you’re currently excited about.
Dina El-Aziz: A few days ago my mum sent me a link to the 1949 film Nadia by Aziza Amir, Egypt’s first female filmmaker. I love learning about influential MENA historical figures, particularly women. I grew up in England and we didn’t delve deeply into Egyptian history post the Pharaonic period, so this makes me feel a little more connected to my heritage.
Maia: How does your MENASA identity inform your artistic work? Dina: My undergrad mentors used to tell me that good theatre will always be understood, even if it’s in another language. I design so that if a particular group is represented onstage, they can recognize themselves. I don’t want to dilute a culture/community in the hopes that it will be digestible for an outside audience.
Maia: What’s a bucket list project? Dina: Wallahi I just want a period Egyptian Ramadan miniseries, that’s all.
Maia: Can you share a big question you're preoccupied with right now? Dina: I think a lot about a question once posed in a meeting a few years ago: would you rather have authenticity or inclusion? Inclusion is great, but there are times when I worry I am the token designer in the room – I’m there to prove that diversity exists, but I’m not necessarily affecting change. It’s hard, but I think we need to worry less about being invited and think more about if the quality being offered meets our standards. I think we should always choose authenticity as it guarantees our inclusion, not the other way around.
Maia: Give us a fun fact about Dina. Dina: I discovered my maternal grandfather was interested in theatre. My family unearthed a pile of historical costume plates painted by him, along with a script. The last four pages are missing, dun dun duuun!
Want to see more of Dina's work? Find her online here.