Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and raised in Chicago,Ismail Khalidi is a playwright, poet and activist, as well as an actor, educator and journalist on occasion.
Khalidi holds an MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and is the author of the award-winning play Tennis in Nablus. His plays have been produced and read at theaters and universities around the country and abroad, including Atlanta's Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre (Tennis in Nablus, 2010). Khalidi's other plays include Truth Serum Blues, which was commissioned and produced by Pangea World Theater (2005), Final Status, and most recently,Sabra Falling .
Khalidi's writing on politics and culture has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, The Daily Beast, American Theatre Magazine, Remezcla, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. His poetry and plays have been published by Mizna, where he was recently a writer-in-residence. Khalidi is the co-editor of Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015) and is co-adapting Ghassan Kanafani's Return to Haifa for the stage. Khalidi currently lives between New York City and Chile.
To request copies of any plays, please contact Amy Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ron Gwiazda (email@example.com) at Abrams Artists Agency.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
February 8, 2010 by Sandi By Wendell BrocK
"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"
Submitted by collin on Tuesday, 9 February, 2010 by Manning Harris
"When was the last time you saw a “tragipoliticomedy about allegiance, struggle, and crisis”? That’s how the Alliance Theatre press release refers to “Tennis in Nablus,” their current offering at the Hertz stage, running through Feb. 21. The playwright is Ismail Khalidi, the sixth winner of the Alliance’s Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition; actually he’s won several national awards."
“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."
" '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."
“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.”
“[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.”
“The beautiful writing ranges from a kind of hip-hop spoken word to a Greek chorus to chilling hallucinatory interrogations.”