top of page

New Arab American Theater Works was founded as a collective of Minnesota based Arab, Arab American and Muslim Theater artists with a wide variety of strengths as writers, performers, educators, and theater makers who have been presenting theater locally, nationally and internationally for over 20 years.  We have worked together, and in the broader community, in many capacities including non-profit, education, and professional theater.  We created a collective to present new theater works by Arab Americans to fill a void in the local and national scene where Arab American theater artists lack voice and opportunities to present our own stories.


Our work gives new perspective to on the terms “Arab”, “Middle Eastern” and “Muslim” terms thrown around in the news media and still continue to be equated with “terrorist” and “war” and “oppressive”.

We are a proud member of the MENA Theater Makers Alliance

Group WLFR.jpg
We strive to benefit under represented Arab, Arab American and Muslim artists, locally, nationally and internationally.
Kathy Haddad Headshot - Final Edit.jpg

Kathryn Haddad

Founding Artistic Executive Director

Kathryn Haddad (Executive/Artistic Director) is a writer, teacher and community organizer whose work explores contemporary Arab American experiences and reflects on the political reality of life for Arab and Muslim Americans. 


Kathryn founded Mizna – one of the few Arab American Arts and literary organizations in the United States where she served as its Artistic and Executive Director for twelve years.  Kathryn is a 2004 – 05 recipient of an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship for her work with the Arab American community.  As a writer, she received three Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowships as well as awards from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis.  She is a recipient of the 2018 Kay Sexton Award from the Minnesota Book Awards for her work with the Arab American Community, and is a 2019-20 Jerome Artist Fellow.


Kathryn Haddad

Board of Directors


Tarek is a dynamic individual whose unique blend of interests and talents brings excitement to New Arab American Theater Works. As a Palestinian-American originally growing up from the Chicago area, his journey has been influenced by both his cultural heritage and his passion for the environment. During the weekdays, Tarek thrives in the realm of environmental consulting, making a positive impact on the Twin Cities' local environmental field. His dedication to sustainability and his genuine appreciation for the environment drive his commitment to fostering a greener and healthier world. Tarek's interests extend beyond his professional life. Embracing an active lifestyle, he enjoys biking, running, camping, exploring nature. His strong connection to Arabic and Palestinian culture leads him to immerse himself in the Arabic arts and music. Captivated by the rich artistic traditions, Tarek is a member of Yalla Drum! where he’s learned the Darbuka, a traditional instrument of the Arab world, and has worked tirelessly to hone his skills.

Layla Asamarai

Board Treasurer

Layla Asamarai is a licensed clinical psychologist specialized in treatment of trauma. She is the founder and managing director of The Luminous Mind in Roseville Minnesota. Dr. Layla is a mother of three and enjoys reading, cooking, and mauy thai.



Joseph R. Farag is Assistant Professor of Modern Arab Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Politics and Palestinian Literature in Exile, published in 2017, and his scholarly writings have appeared in the Journal of Arabic Literature, Middle East Literatures, and the International Journal of Islamic Architecture. Farag's research focuses on the intersection between modern Palestinian cultural production and Palestinian history and politics. 

Lina Jamoul


Lina Jamoul is a labor and community organizer by day, and theater artist by night. She has previously appeared in the latest New Arab American Theater Works production, Zafira and the Resistance at the Guthrie's Dowling studio. Lina was born in Syria, and has lived in Cyprus, the UK and the US. She has a PhD in Human Geography, and has been an organizing director and an executive director.


Board President

Jawdy is a child of Palestinian immigrants. He has been active in the Arab American and Muslim American communities for many years where he volunteers with and supports Palestinian Human Rights Organizations.  He has appeared in several New Arab American Theater Works productions, including Road To City of Apples by Kathryn Haddad, and Turbulence by William Nour.  He also had the lead role in the Pangea World Theater Production of Ismail Khalidi’s Sabra Falling, and has appeared in several staged readings for Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision’s program.  He currenly serves as the president of the board of directors for New Arab American Theater Works. He has a masters degree in buisness administration from University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.



Khaldoun Samman is Professor of Sociology at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of The Clash of Modernities (Routledge 2010) and Cities of God and Nationalism: Mecca, Jerusalem, and Rome as Contested World Cities (Paradigm 2007) and co-editor of Islam and the Orientalist World-System (Paradigm 2008). He is widely known as a local master of Arab percussion who has been teaching Arabic drumming in the Twin Cities for the past several years. Growing up in Zarqa Jordan, his favorite memories of childhood usually involved listening to the beautiful sounds of Arabic music. When Khaldoun’s family moved to New Jersey, a lot of this came with them. Khaldoun has been studying Arab percussion intensively over the past 13 years traveling across the United States and to Jordan to study with the masters of Arabic drumming.  He has performed widely in the Twin Cities, including venues like the Science Museum in St. Paul, the Festival of Nations (multiple performances), the Fringe Festival in Minneapolis, as well as in Mizna sponsored events, and in several local Twin Cities Arab weddings. Khaldoun is the lead instructor for New Arab American Theater Works program, Yalla Drum!


Board Vice President

Andrea Shaker (Secretary) is a professor of art at the College of St. Benedict | St. John's University. She earned her BA from Georgetown University and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and French at l'Université de Fribourg. Her photographic artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo and group shows in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Glasgow. Her film work has screened at the Walker Art Center and the Twin Cities Arab Festival, has been aired on Twin Cities Public Television and is part of the Ruben/Benston Moving Image collection at the Walker Art Center. 



Raised in a nomadic upbringing, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf is the author of three books: Gorgorkii Yimi, a collection of short stories in Somali, The Lion’s Binding Oath, a collection of short stories in English, and Somalis in Minnesota. His short stories appeared in Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali studies, Mizna: An Arab-American literary magazine. His play ”Tales of Time” was given several staged readings at New Arab American Theater Works in collaboration with Pangea World Theater. “A Crack in the Sky” was produced at the History Theatre in Saint Paul and others at Mixed Blood. His mental health publications appeared in Journal of Muslim Mental Health; Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology; International Society for Traumatic-stress Studies, Psychiatry Times. He has a BS in creative writing and psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; and an MPA (Master of Public Affairs) from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota. 

bottom of page