New Arab American Theater Works
Playwright Incubator Program
The New Arab American Theater Works Playwright Incubator Program is our a playwright development program for SWANA (Southwest Asian/North African) or Muslim playwrights. This program convenes early to mid career playwrights who are interested in meeting bi-monthly in a supportive environment to develop new work. This will culminate in a showcase for a public audience.
This cohort is the first group to participate in our Inaugural Playwright Incubator Program.
Meet the Playwrights!
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh is an Egyptian writer, theater maker, and dramaturg. Adam writes theater and TV scripts that interrogate the intersections of queerness, immigration, and colonialism from his lens as a queer, Arab, immigrant. Adam’s ethos is to tell and amplify stories from communities that have been historically under and misrepresented on American television screens and stages. Adam’s plays (including Drowning in Cairo, Revelation, Memorial, and Jamestown/ Williamsburg) have been developed and seen at The Lark, The Tisch School of the Arts, The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and Golden Thread Productions. Adam is a fellow at Georgetown University's Laboratory for Global Performance and an Alliance/Kendeda Award Finalist. He holds a BA in Theater with an emphasis in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from NYU Abu Dhabi and is an MFA Candidate in Playwriting at Brooklyn College. Learn more about what Adam is up to at https://www.adamaelsayigh.com/.
Kathryn Haddad, Facilitator
Kathryn Haddad (she/her) is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community organizer whose work explores contemporary Southwest Asian/North African (SWANA) experiences. Kathryn is a 2004-05 recipient of the Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship. She has received three Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Fellowships as well as several artist awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She was the 2018 Kay Sexton Award honoree for her work with the SWANA Community, and received a 2019-20 Jerome Fellowship in playwriting, and was a member of the 2022 Mu Tang Clan of writers at Theater Mu. She is a 2022 McKnight Culture Bearer Fellow. Her plays and creative nonfiction have appeared throughout the United States, with her last full production being Zafira and the Resistance at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio in 2019. Her play Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior appears in the 2018 anthology Contemporary Plays by Women of Color, edited by Roberta Uno, and her work has been mentioned in several compilations of important contributions to the SWANA community. Kathryn has worked extensively with Pangea World Theater as a founder, artist, commissioned playwright, and collaborator. She cofounded Mizna where she served as artistic and executive director for 12 years. She is the current artistic and executive director of New Arab American Theater Works where several of her plays have been produced over the last 10 years.
Ifrah Mansour is a Somali, refugee, black, Muslim, multimedia artist and an educator based in Minnesota. Her artwork explores trauma through the eyes of children to uncover the resiliencies of blacks, Muslims, and refugees. She interweaves poetry, puppetry, films, and installations. She's been featured in Middle East Eye, BBC, Vice, OkayAfrica, Star Tribune, and City Pages. Her critically-acclaimed, “How to Have Fun in a Civil War” premiered at Guthrie Theatre and toured to greater cities in Minnesota. Her first national museum exhibition; “Can I touch it” premiered at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Her visual poem, “I am a Refugee” is part of PBS’s short Film festival. "My Aqal, banned and blessed" Premiered at Queens Museum in New York.
Learn More: facebook.com/ifrahmansourart
Nabra Nelson is a community organizer and theater creator from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is currently based in Seattle, WA. As a playwright, director, dramaturg, consultant, administrator, and teaching artist, she works with theaters, universities, and community organizations across the nation to strengthen community and amplify under-heard voices. She is a founding company member of the Seattle based MENA theater company, Dunya Productions, a founding company member of the Milwaukee-based womxn-of-color performance troupe Heard Space Arts Collective, leads the Nubian Foundation for Preserving a Cultural Heritage, and is the co-host of the Kunafa & Shay Theater Podcast (produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons). She is also the Director of Arts Engagement at Seattle Rep, and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Playwriting credits include: What to Expect When You’re Simulating Expecting (Golden Thread Productions’ New Threads Reading Series), Nubian Stories (The Scratch’s In Pencil: Staged Readings, and Renaissance Theaterworks’ Br!NK New Play Festival), Induced Labor (Golden Thread Productions’ ReOrient 2019 honorable mention), Creation Gossip and Lillith (Heard Space Arts Collective), and Minute to Minute and Le Serious Shit (MultiCultural Drama Company).
William Nour is a Palestinian American Writer. His work appeared in Mizna Journal and he has performed his poetry at several community functions and local public schools. William Nour has acted in several plays, and studies traditional Arabic drumming. He’s 2018 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board grant for his play “Turbulence which was part of the New Arab American Theater Works reading series, and he has participated in workshops at the Loft with David Mura and Elmaz Abinader at VONA.
Aamera was going to be a doctor, but plans changed and she settled into a life as a playwright and performer in Saint Paul, MN. Her stories exist the intersections where race, culture, politics and gender meet with power and patriarchy. She has penned six full-length plays including Freedom Daze, CLOTH, American as Curry Pie, CHUP, Log Kya Kahenge, and Please Don’t Feed the Children. Her work has been produced at Southern Theater, History Theater, Illusion Theater, Intermedia Arts, Dreamland Arts, and Pillsbury House Theatre. Siddiqui has received a Naked Stages Fellowship and two Many Voices Fellowships a Cultural Community Partnership Grant and two Artists Initiative Grants. S he was a featured playwright at the Women Playwrights International Conference in Mumbai, India. Aamera is also the Co-Artistic Director of Exposed Brick Theatre, an organization dedicated to telling untold stories through theater and performance art.
Sana Wazwaz is a Muslim and Palestinian-American writer, performer, and organizer. Spanning a range of genres, her writing seeks to dismantle Zionist narratives and advocate for Middle East justice. Her poetry has been published in Palestinian Youth Movement’s 2021 Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Anthology, titled “Tomorrow: The Futures of Resistance.” She is a junior at Augsburg University, where she studies creative writing and political science, and served as the 2021-2022 assistant editor of the Augsburg Thó Wiŋ Literary Magazine. She is currently on the board of the Minnesota chapter of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), where she coordinates education programs and grassroots campaigns.
Ahmed Ismail Yusuf
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.