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Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior

Written by Kathryn Haddad, Executive and Literary Director of New Arab American Theater Works 

Directed by Dipankar Mukherjee

Presented by Pangea World Theater

"The tenth anniversary of the September 11th attack is an opportunity to reflect and evaluate all the cultural, social, and political shifts that have occurred in the U.S. and other countries in the world. Kathryn Haddad's powerful voice and politics are a perfect fit for this time and space." 

 —Director, Dipankar Mukherjee 

The following is excerpted from a promotional article published by Mizna about Kathryn Haddad's Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior. 


"Zafira" shows us an Arab American school teacher sent to an internment camp along with other Arab and Muslim women. She tells her story from the present when she is homeless and living under the rebuilt 35W bridge in Minneapolis.

Just days after the September 11 attacks, there were calls made to various radio stations across the United States, asking for Arab Americans to be placed in internment camps. Kofi Annan said, "When the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia."

Haddad's play takes a compelling and critical look at Arab American identity, institutional racism, the struggles of different generations of immigrants, fears of Arabs and Muslims, and the possibility of a collective punishment in the U.S.

Haddad says, "It's ten years later, and what does the world look like in a time of 'peace' in America? Young people recruited for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The general public is willing to accept racial profiling and infiltration of private communications of its citizens now. This is ten years after the attack on the Twin Towers during a quiet time in our country. The impetus of the play is to wonder what would happen during a time that was not 'quiet'--during a time of another attack. Could something like the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII happen again--this time to the Arab American and Muslim community?

"Working with Pangea World Theater is a natural collaboration for me," says Haddad. "The fearlessness in tackling difficult subjects makes the partnership one that I treasure. Working with Director Dipankar Mukherjee, whose politics and art I respect, is exciting. His dedication to the same ideals I hold--staying true to a sharp political vision, no matter how uncomfortable it might make some people feel--is important to me. The commitment to work with members of the local Arab and Muslim community is also one that I champion, and this play will include those members who can bring personal experiences to the stage. My hope for this play is that it will start many dialogues that will continue past closing night."


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