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Ismail Khalidi

Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and raised in Chicago,Ismail Khalidi is a playwright and director who has written, directed, performed, curated and taught internationally.

Khalidi's plays include Tennis in Nablus (Alliance Theatre, 2010), Truth Serum Blues (Pangea World Theater, 2005), Foot (Teatro Amal, 2016-17), Sabra Falling (Pangea World Theater, 2017), Returning to Haifa (Finborough Theatre, 2018) and Dead Are My People (Noor Theatre, 2019). Khalidi's plays have been published in numerous anthologies. His writing on politics and culture has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, American Theatre Magazine, and Remezcla. His poetry and plays have been published by Mizna , and he co-edited Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015). Khalidi has received commissions from the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Noor Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, and The Public Theatre, and is currently a Visiting Artist at Teatro Amal in Chile. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.


Synopses

To request copies of any plays, please contact Amy Wagner (amy.wagner@abramsartny.com) or Ron Gwiazda (ron.gwiazda@abramsartny.com) at Abrams Artists Agency.

> Tennis in Nablus

Synopsis
Palestine. 1939. A dying revolution. A Palestinian family is at odds over how to achieve freedom and survive in an increasingly contested land under foreign rule. True events inspire this "tragipoliticomedy" about the ill-fated Arab revolt against British occupation and the ills and absurdities of imperialism. Tackling the crucial years leading up to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we know it, Tennis in Nablus combines humor, tragedy, and a rich tapestry of characters to weave an epic tale about a world on the brink of momentous change.

Production History
Tennis in Nablus was produced at the Alliance Theater in 2010 and at Stageworks Hudson in 2011. It has received staged readings in Chicago (Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising), New York (New Yorki Theatre Workshop, Queens Theatre in the Park) Beirut (American University of Beirut) and Berlin (After the Last Sky Festival). Tennis in Nablus was published in Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015). The play has been translated into French and is currently being translated into Arabic and Spanish.

> Truth Serum Blues

Synopsis
Infused with questions about family, exile and war in the post-September 11, 2001 era, Truth Serum Blues delves inside the tortured mind and body of Kareem, a young Arab-American man stripped of his rights and lost in his own memories. Using multiple media and genres, the play glides back and forth between Guantanamo Bay, the urban United States, and the Middle East asking explosive questions in a time of war and turmoil and challenging our definitions of terrorism, patriotism, sedition and freedom.

Production History and Reviews
Premiering in Minneapolis at Pangea World Theater and running for two weeks straight to sellout crowds in September and October of 2005, Truth Serum Blues went on to receive critical acclaim from the local press in Minneapolis where it was named “Best Solo Performance of 2005” by Lavendar Magazine. After its Minneapolis run the show went on to be performed in limited runs in New York, Detroit, CHicago and Los Angeles.

> Final Status

Synopsis
Ibrahim enters into the madness of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and finds himself in the crossfire between competing visions of the future, as well as his family's past. Spanning from 1993 to 2009, and from Washington to Gaza, Ibrahim's journey sheds light on the idiosyncrasies of nationalism and heroism in a part of the world mired in conflict and tragedy.

> Sabra Falling

Synopsis
It is August 1982 and Beirut is under siege. In the Sabra refugee camp the specter of a massacre looms, and the Akawi family receives an unexpected and mysterious visitor who brings the past rushing back - and alters the course of events to come.

Production History
Sabra Falling was originally commissioned by Pangea World Theater, where it received its world premiere in September 2017 under the direction of Dipankar Mukherjee. The play was written with the support of Mizna, and received staged readings in London (Mosaic Rooms), New York (Noor Theatre), and San Francisco (Golden Thread). Sabra Falling was published in Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas (Playwrights Canada Press, 2016).

> Foot

Synopsis
A young Palestinian football player explains his team's impossible quest to make it to the World Cup through checkpoints, exile, corruption, and death.

Production History
Foot (a one-person play) was performed as part of Palfest Ireland, at Dublin's historic Dalymouth Park Stadium as well as at Pangea World Theater before receiving its world premiere in Chile in Teatro Amal's 2016 production of the Spanish translation (Carolina Muñoz Proto) at the Parque Cultural de Valparaíso. The Chilean premiere was followed by an extended run in November of 2017 at Teatro Duoc in Santiago de Chile.

> Returning to Haifa

Synopsis
Co-adapted with Naomi Wallace from the novella of the same name by assassinated Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, Return to Haifa is a haunting tale of the repercussions and residues of dispossession and loss in Palestine/Israel.

Production History
Returning to Haifa was originally commissioned by the Public Theatre, recieving its world premiere, directed by Caitlin Mcleod, at London's Finborough Theatre, in February of 2018.

> Dead Are My People

Synopsis
Fleeing the famine-stricken mountains of Lebanon during World War I, Nicola makes the journey to the U.S. Once there, he hopes to track down his relative who emigrated years before. Following information from an old letter, Nicola comes to Lakewood, a small town in the Deep South. Nicola must ultimately navigate the treacherous lines, both real and imagined, of the Jim Crow South. Grappling with the legacies of white supremacy, immigration and assimilation, Dead Are My People is an unexpected journey to the core of American experience.

Production History
Dead Are My People was commissioned and developed by Noor Theatre and is slated for its world premiere in 2019. The play features original music and composition by Lebanese composer Hadi el Debek. Dead are My People received a prestigious Map Fund Grant in 2017 and was selected for a weeklong development residency at the National Arab Arab Museum in Dearborn Michigan in December 2017.

> The Corpse Washer

Synopsis
Co-Adapted (with Naomi Wallace) for the stage from the award-winning novel by Sinan Antoon, The Corpse Washer is an urgent and haunting tale exploring three decades of war in Iraq through the eyes of Jawad, an aspiring artist drawn back into the family trade of ritual corpse cleaning in a Baghdad increasingly overflowing with death.

Production History
The Corpse Washer was commissioned for adaptation by the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Stay tuned for production updates.

Books

Book1

Inside/Outside

Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (Due out in Spring, 2015, from Theatre Communications Group).

Articles and other writing

"The Courage to be Dangerous", TCG Circle.

"Creation Under Occupation", American Theatre Magazine.

"Radical Acts", Guernica Magazine.

"To Zion and Back", Guernica Magazine.

"Remembering Juliano Mer Khemis", The Nation.

"Prisoner's in Parallel", in The Daily Beast.

"The Case for Palestine" The Daily Beast.

"The Showdown at the UN: The U.S. Blocks Palestinian Freedom", The Albany Times Union.

"Debunking the Palestinian Stereotype", The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Tennis in Nablus

‘Tennis in Nablus’ on the Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage

Atlanta Journal Constitution, By Wendell Brock, February 8, 2010.

"For a play about a brutal 1939 rebellion in British-occupied Palestine, Ismail Khalidi’s “Tennis in Nablus” is a remarkably funny play. Blood is spilling on the streets. Families are fighting against each other. Prisoners are being tortured and hung. But about all the tennis-playing English invaders have on their minds is what they’ll wear to the next costume ball. Winner of the 2009 Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition, this Alliance Theatre world premiere is a beautifully crafted work of art that balances the Lebanese-born playwright’s passion for the politics of his homeland with a playful and irreverent comedic sensibility"



Theatre Review: Tennis In Nablus

Atlanta In Town Paper, by Manny Harris, February 9, 2010.

"" The charm of “Tennis in Nablus” is discovering that the humor and absurdity of life never cease, even in the most tense and appalling of times...Perhaps playwright Khalidi’s greatest triumph is that somehow glimmers of the truth and the absurdity of human existence emerge from “Tennis at Nablus.” In a corner of the world with complex and seemingly unsolvable problems, he shows us human beings whom we wish we knew better."


From the Columbia Spectator

“Tennis in Nablus delivers a thoughtful and pointed political argument while eliciting roars of laughter from the audience. Khalidi’s visceral depiction of human struggle allows him to illustrate complex themes, giving viewers a deeper insight into the complexities of today’s Palestinian situation, so rooted in the country’s chaotic history...[The play]inspires laughter and tears—and the frequency of the former serves masterfully to ensure the efficacy of the latter."


From Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

" 'As a Palestinian-American playwright,' says Ismail Khalidi, 'I am deeply committed to challenging the myths and distortions about Palestinians that abound in American discourse.' That's just one of Khalidi's goals in his award-winning play Tennis in Nablus, which enjoyed a successful run Sept. 7 to 25 at Stageworks Hudson, in New York's mid-Hudson Valley. He also dramatizes a Palestinian cry for independence that never recovered from its defeat in the 1936-'39 Arab Revolt."



Truth Serum Blues

Naomi Wallace, Obie Award-winning playwright, author of One Flea Spare, The Fever Chart, and Things of Dry Hours

“It were as though [Truth Serum Blues] had re-imagined, then redirected the fires of human passion, despair, joy, and the complicatedness of their histories, into one, new space of contact and combustion…[this work] is bold, intense, and fiercely intelligent.”


John Townsend, WKFAI radio and Minnesota Community Arts.net

“[Truth Serum Blues] is an unflinching, searing account of a "regular guy" targeted by Homeland Security in a turn one would expect from a totalitarian regime. Not in a Democracy…Khalidi's performance is magnificent and penetrating.”

Lydia Howell, Pulse of the Twin Cities

“The beautiful writing ranges from a kind of hip-hop spoken word to a Greek chorus to chilling hallucinatory interrogations.”

Inside/Outside: Six Plays From Palestine And The Diaspora

Inside/Outside: Six Plays From Palestine And The Diaspora

"Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora is evidence that theatre makers, inside Palestine and within the diaspora, are providing critical alternatives to restrained and distorted media narratives, which present Palestinians solely as victims, terrorists, or as individuals without agency except in relation to Israel.... Their work holds valuable lessons for students of Palestinian history, theatre-makers writ large, and advocates of Palestinian liberation. Most importantly, they remind us of Edward Said’s dictum that Palestinians do need not 'permission to narrate' their own lives, histories, and futures." - Muftah

"Inside/Outside is an important addition to the dramatic theatre canon... It boldly declares that there is such a thing as a Palestinian playwright and that Palestinianness can be claimed no matter where playwrights were born or in which language they write... These plays, though varied in their dramaturgical styles and geographic origins, provide valuable insights into Palestinian artists at this point in history.... Plays like these can go a long way toward counteracting the seemingly endless litany of negative narratives that pervade the media regarding Palestine." - Michael Malek Najjar, Arab Stages

"...the six beautiful plays in this edited volume are a valuable contribution to Palestine Studies and to Middle Eastern Studies in general. The book will also appeal to students of non-western theatre and drama, and will provide a valuable source for theatre researchers. These...eloquent and playable translations would offer directors, artists and actors the opportunity to stage these Palestinian texts, whether 'inside' or 'outside' Palestine." - Hala Nassar, Arab Stages

"This collection is remarkable for more than doubling the corpus of Palestinian plays in English, for encompassing both homeland and diaspora Palestinian writers, and for coming to print within a US theatre culture that’s seen more censorship than promotion of Palestinian concerns... Its varieties in content and style offer readers a provocative sampling of strategies of representing Palestine’s fraught past and present." - Kate Wilson, Arablit.org

"From the opening by the editors to the introduction by the Nathalie Handal, we are reminded that Palestinian expression, whether over identity, state rights or cultural production has often been rendered taboo before it even sees the light of day." - Middle East Monitor

"The plays in Inside/Outside have incredible wit and beautiful use of language between them." - Ellen McAteer, The Electronic Intifada and Green Left Weekly

  • Tennis in Nablus, Stageworks Hudson, 2011.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Stageworks Hudson, 2011.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Stageworks Hudson, 2011.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Stageworks Hudson, 2011.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Stageworks Hudson, 2011.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus,  Alliance Theater, 2010.

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Historic Images

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Historic Images

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Historic Images

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Historic Images

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Tennis in Nablus, Historic Images

    Tennis in Nablus

  • Truth Serum Blues

    Truth Serum Blues

  • Truth Serum Blues

    Truth Serum Blues

  • Poetry

    Poetry

  • Poetry

    Poetry

  • Poetry

    Poetry

  • Poetry

    Poetry

Contact Info

  • -E-mail
  • ismail.khalidi@gmail.com