The Department of Theatre at the Ohio State University has sustained collaborations with international theatre companies and professionals from around the world for many years and offers a curriculum which integrates global and multicultural perspectives across all of its courses. One of the strongest international foci, other than the more well-known partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, has been theatre projects based in countries and communities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The OSU Middle East Studies Center cosponsored a performing and visual arts series titled Identity Formation in the Arab World Spring 2004 which examined issues of linguistic, cultural, and religious identity in the Middle East. The series began on April 15 with Identity, created by Iraqi puppeteer Louay Assaf, and followed by The Loudest Muttering is Over: Documents from The Atlas Group Archive, by The Atlas Group/Walid Ra’ad.
On April 16, 2004, the Interventionist Theatre Symposium: Featuring a screening of The Last Enemy was followed by a roundtable discussion with Jim Mirrione (Creative Arts Team at New York University), Sami Metwassi (a Palestinian actor who has worked with the Palestinian theatres ASHTAR and INAD), and Louay Assaf, with Edward Ziter as moderator.
The series continued with showings of Fate of a Cockroach, by Tewfik al Hakim, between May 12-28. Naila Al Atrash, Syrian theatre artist and director was in residence to direct it. The series ended with Forget Baghdad, written and directed by Samir, was shown on May 18 and Rana’s Wedding, directed by Hany Abu-Assad, was shown on May 25.
The Theatre Department again partnered with the Middle East Studies Center and YOMA Art Productions in 2010 to produce Youssef Idris’s “House of Flesh” (adapted for theatre by Rasha Khairy). Assem Nagaty directed and the roles were played by Assem Nagaty, Amany Seleem, Razan Mustafa, Alison Vasquez, and Aziel Dunkin. The performances were co-sponsored by the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department and the Columbus Performing Arts Center.
On the Font Lines in 2019 marks a new stage in the evolution of theatre and cross-cultural learning at Ohio State, bringing bring the voices, lived experiences and cultural contexts of Afghan women to our campus and the world. “On the Front Lines,” is a project to bring the voices, lived experiences and cultural contexts of Afghan women to Ohio State University and the world. Dr. Lesley Ferris, Distinguished Arts and Humanities Professor of Theatre, directs the project which commissioned two short plays based on stories written by Afghan women journalists of Sahar Speaks. The result is a rich synthesis of the fields of theatre, history and journalism, among others. See the full list of events here.