(January 2019, Plain Press) On November 30thand December 1st, Cleveland Public Theatre presented onstage at the James Levin Theatre, the workshop production of Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi’s مسرح كليفلاند العربي inaugural ensemble performance, Dream of Home حلم وطن. To create this original play, Dream of Home, Clevelanders of many faiths (Muslims, Christians, Druzes, and more) came together to share original stories about remembering, seeking and creating home. This work-in-progress production features Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربيensemble artists performing their own personal stories.
Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi is a new Cleveland Public Theatre project by, for, and with Arabic-speaking communities of Cleveland – and the purpose of this project is to share the rich diversity and perspectives of Cleveland’s Arabic-speaking communities. The ensemble of artists is open to all people who share a heritage from Arabic-speaking cultures and a curiosity and passion for theatre.
Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربيensemble broadly includes third generation Americans, as well as recent arrivals, Muslims, Christians, and other faiths, who are curious and passionate. This program is made possible by the generous support of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The program is bilingual, presented in English and Arabic.
The 2018 Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربيensemble is comprised of amateur and professional theatre artists: Abbas Alhilali, Issam Boudiab, Jamal Julia Boudiab, Ebaa Boudiab, Hussein Ghareeb, Omar Kurdi, Manar Yared, Haneen Yehya, with writing contributions by Nazek El Halabi Yehya.
The creative production team includes Raymond Bobgan – Producer; Faye Hargate – Line Producer; Jamal Julia Boudiab – Marketing Translation Consultant; and Inda Blatch-Geib – Costume Designer.
CPT’s Executive Artistic Director, Raymond Bobgan says, “Cleveland Public Theatre believes art has the power to transform communities. We are proud to launch the inaugural program of Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربي , an ensemble that will share the rich diversity and perspectives that exist here in Cleveland on our stages. We know that when we move toward inclusivity and connection our lives are better and we take better care of each other. Theatre can be a bridge, a connector, a celebrator to make Northeast Ohio more compassionate and conscientious.”
Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربيensemble and advisory committee member Omar Kurdi said, “I believe that the arts are the best form of expression and Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi is the epitome of that. This is a great opportunity to build bridges and tell our stories through theatre in a time when it’s much needed. Dream of Home حلم وطن is about me, you, us, and everyone with a story.”
Prior to the performance, guests were treated to catered food from Kan Zaman which included tabouli salad, hummus, baba ghanouj, and a chicken and rice dish. Visual artists Hussein Ghareeb, Kubra Alhilali and Haneen Alhilali displayed their work on the walls while preshow music was provided by Danny Lahood. After the production on November 30ththe Tony Mikhael Band provided music and on December 1stthe post show Mideastern music was provided by DJ Georgie.