A Call for Equity and Inclusion:

An Open Letter to U.S. Theaters from Members of the Middle Eastern American Theater Community

April 26, 2017

As a community of Middle Eastern American theater artists of varying races, cultural backgrounds, religions, sexual and gender identities, worldviews and artistic aesthetics, we believe the entire theater industry has a responsibility to create a more equitable and inclusive structure for presenting marginalized voices.  

Playwrights Horizons is currently producing Zayd Dohrn’s The Profane, a play that follows two Muslim, presumably Middle Eastern American families. We are deeply concerned by the lack of representation on the lead creative or producing team from the communities being portrayed on stage. Members of the Middle Eastern American theater community have raised this concern, along with issues about cultural representation in the play itself, in direct conversations with the artistic staff at Playwrights Horizons. These ongoing exchanges have been open and constructive, but there is much work to be done.

In the March 30, 2017 New York Times interview by Alexis Soloski entitled “Faith and Identity Clash in The Profane: An Actor’s Roundtable,” the writer interviews the cast of the show – all actors of varying Middle Eastern identity. The talented cast was asked a number of questions ranging from their thoughts on the election, to how Middle Easterners and Muslims are portrayed in media and entertainment.  One question in particular stood out as problematic:

“Was it a problem for you that The Profane was written by a white playwright and has a white director?”

It is indeed a valid question; however, Ms. Soloski ought to have directed her inquiry to the producing organization, Playwrights Horizons, who made the contentious hiring choices - not the actors. The actors in the cast are our colleagues and friends and we support them endeavoring to speak for these larger power structures, as many of us have done in the past. However, actors are employees, and their ability to speak freely in these situations is complicated by that reality. They should not be expected to defend the work, only to interpret it. They do not exist to answer for those in power.

We also ask: Why, when there are so many gifted Middle Eastern and/or Muslim playwrights and directors, are there still no decision makers of Middle Eastern descent or Muslim faith involved in a production about Muslims

As Middle Eastern American artists, we are familiar with our stories being filtered through a predominantly white gaze. We take issue with producing organizations whose choices perpetuate the notion that we are a voiceless, powerless group, incapable of representing ourselves. Such a notion is supported by the continuation of Islamophobia and white privilege, and the Orientalist idea that our stories, experiences, fantasies, and myths need to be expressed for us. This keeps us out of the conversation and out of the full process of creation, and relegates us to passive subjects that must be interpreted, dissected, exoticized and so forth. 

While prompted by recent events, this letter is a response to many years of watching our stories be misrepresented, censored, appropriated, and exploited. Marginalized groups and people of color across the country continue to face these issues. As we bring to light our particular challenges as Middle Eastern and Muslim artists in the U.S., we also recognize our allied communities in this intersectional struggle for equity and representation.

Playwrights Horizons, New York City theater community, regional theaters across the United States, we urge you to:

1. Invite Middle Eastern and/or Muslim people to be in decision-making positions, whether on your permanent artistic staff and/or as lead artists who author and create the work. Also consider other roles where this may be possible, such as dramaturgs, designers, and stage managers. The burden of representation should not rest on the shoulders of actors alone, but on a full and diverse team of artists. 

2. Choose to produce plays by a Middle Eastern and/or Muslim playwright. Offer those playwrights commissions and opportunities for their work to be further developed within your organization.

3. When choosing a play that explores Middle Eastern and/or Muslim communities, consider one that: challenges Islamophobia or dangerous Middle Eastern stereotypes; understands the contexts of colonialism and Orientalism; and explores different angles of history or politics. As you read plays, maintain an awareness of your own assumptions and of the limits of your knowledge. Ask yourself whether the piece relies on stereotypes and if its structure or premise would work if transposed onto other identity groups with which you may have more familiarity. 

This is an urgent call to diversify the full-time production staff of mainstream theater. 
The overwhelmingly monolithic power structure is the root cause of the imbalance we see. People of color are shut out of important discussions around season selection, authorship, and authenticity. The cyclical nature is troubling: When gatekeepers are largely similar in heritage and cultural experience, they often share the same blind spot, and we’ve seen much troubling content fall through that hole onto our stages. Content that, often unintentionally, reinforces unhelpful narratives. That work is then seen by audiences who share similar blind spots, and reviewed by critics through the same narrow lens. The circle is thus complete. 

Given the power of narrative and story to impact our nation’s decisions around immigration, the refugee crisis, and foreign military intervention, we believe the stakes are too high for us to allow this to go on unchecked. 

This letter is our call for a public discussion to be held around these issues. 

You may sign in solidarity here: http://bit.ly/2oCkWO5

We also invite you to engage directly with us.  
To do so, contact Maha Chehlaoui at  Maha@passthemicmedia.com.


Lameece Issaq, Founding Artistic Director, Noor Theatre

Together with:

Leila Buck, Playwright, Actor, Intercultural Educator and Facilitator
Maha Chehlaoui, Founder, Pass the Mic Media; Founder, Noor Theatre
Thomas Simsarian Dolan, PhD Candidate, American Studies, George Washington University
Kareem Fahmy, Director, Playwright
Noelle Ghoussaini, Director, Playwright, Educator
Jamil Khoury, Founding Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising
Ismail Khalidi, Playwright
Mona Mansour, Playwright
Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Director, Writer, and Educator

Signed in Solidarity:

1.Catherine Coray, Director, The Lark Middle East-US Playwright Exchange

2.Sarah Schulman, Playwright

3.Sara Awartani, PhD Student, George Washington University

4.Dina El-Aziz, Costume Designer - Very very tired of watching our stories being told by people who barely know us. I have recently gone out of my way to reach out to people who are writing about something I lived through but have portrayed it with a white lens. That being said I believe the onus shouldn’t be on me to make these people tell a representative story, the onus should be on them, and the people who provide venues for them to challenge them to be representative, and the venues to hire the very people who are the subject of these stories to tell them. We are not in control of our own narratives and we are made to feel grateful for any scraps of inclusion we are offered, which is wrong.

5.Vishaal Reddy

6.Aysan Celik, Actor, Theater Maker

7.Evren Odcikin, Director

8.Ali Nasser

9.Demosthenes Chrysan, Actor

10.Sharone Sayegh, Actor, Playwright

11.Shana Gold - Thank you for your candor and deep thinking.

12.William M. Burton

13.Drae Campbell, Actor - Yes. I support you. Thank you.

14.Kathryn Haddad, Playwright, Artistic and Executive Director, New Arab American Theater Works

15.Mike Mosallam

16.Amr El-Bayoumi

17.Osh Ghanimah, Actor/Writer and Founder/CEO of Broadway For All - Let's have a healthy conversation and continue our efforts to build an American theatre all!

18.Kholoud Sawaf - Writing a play about any Middle Eastern and/or Muslims community goes beyond doing months or even years of research. It's a great thing to want to tell urgent and timely stories, but you can't do that without having LEADERS with the right perspective. It's unacceptable to do that towards a vulnerable civilization and religion.
Please consider hiring artists who have the perspective to tell such stories and lead the productions. Thank you for listening.

19.Justine Williams, Yale School of Drama - Thank you. Looking forward to showing up to listen and work through these questions and issues in community, and through your leadership.

20.Fahim Hamid

21.Dave Hall, Composer/Lyricist/Playwright - Please seriously consider the suggestions in this letter!

22.Lipica Shah, Actor

23. Veracity Butcher, Performer - I know 6 artists working on The Profane. I also have worked with Director Kip Fagan, which was an immense pleasure for me. He's sensitive, nurturing, and wonderful. I sign in solidarity with Noor. I acknowledge it may be a huge leap for this play to be performed in a place like Playwrights Horizons in the first place. But, if Middle Easterners/Arabs/Muslims (and the intersectional identities thereof) are not authentically represented, any production could unknowingly be doing more harm than good. Bring more people of color in on the conversation. Bring more mixed heritage people in on the conversation. The world is not just black and white, not just sacred and profane.

24.Grace Canahuati - I urge you to choose to produce plays by a Middle Eastern and/or Muslim playwright. Offer those playwrights commissions and opportunities for their work to be further developed within your organization.

25.Ethan Heard, Lecturer in Directing, Yale School of Drama, Co-Artistic Director, Heartbeat Opera 

26.Linda Chapman, Associate Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop - I'm with you!

27.Maria Cataldo - In agreement, solidarity, and support.

28.Stephanie Ybarra, The Public Theater - This resonates far beyond the Middle Eastern Theater Community - thank you so much for speaking up and inviting this critical conversation. Under represented communities of artists must be allowed to tell their stories first, and (re)shape the dominant narratives about Others.

29.Ariel Estrada, Leviathan Lab

30.Elizabeth Marvin

31.Anne G. Morgan, Dramaturg

32.Hadi Eldebek, Yo-Yo Ma's Silkroad Ensemble, Brooklyn Nomads, Circle World Arts, GrantPA 

33.Ali Andre Ali, Actor & Musician

34.Jesse Alick, Literary Manager, Public Theater

35.Abigail Vega, Latinx Theatre Commons Producer

36.Chantal Rodriguez, Ph.D. Yale School of Drama

37.Marisela Treviño Orta, Playwright - Signing in solidarity. This is a familiar struggle for various cultural communities in our field. I hope theatres are open to listening to and working with artists who represent diverse cultural perspectives.

38.Rendah Heywood, Actor

39.Alison Carey, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

40. Kal Mansoor, Equity Actor.

41. Adam El-Sharkawi, Actor

42.Megan Patterson

43.Kait Fairchild - Script Manager, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

44.Imran Sheikh, actor, Parwaz Playhouse

45.Roger W. Tang, Producer, Editor of the Asian American Theatre Revue

46.Shepherd S. Schmidt

47.Beto O'Byrne, playwright; co-founder, Radical Evolution; founding member of La Cooperativa of NYC Latinx Theatre Artists

50. Kaivan Mayelzadeh, actor

51.Amelia Acosta Powell, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

52.Jose Solis - Theatre Critic at StageBuddy.com

53.Nate Shelton, Actor Writer

54.Amy Jo Jackson, Actor

55.Angie Kamel, Arts Administrator

56.Raquel Almazan, La Lucha Arts and La Co-operativa of Latinx Theatre Artists Nyc - Playwrights Horizons staff should also undertake anti-racism training, which La Co-Op believes that all cultural workers, artists, and theatre makers would benefit from taking, regardless of social location, ethnicity, or personal experiences.

57.Annalisa Dias, Producing Playwright, The Welders; co-founder, DC Coalition for Theatre & Social Justice - 

58.James J. Johnson Actors Equity Association

59.Bridgit Antoinette Evans

60.Sharifa Johka, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

61.Andrew Rincon (Playwright, Theatre Administrator )

62.Leyla Modirzadeh Actors Equity -  I am in Solidarity.

63.Michele Rafic, Actor & Comedian -  Lover of Fart Jokes Forever and Always

64.Ramiz Monsef Actor/Playwright

65.Nancy Kim, Rising Circle Theater Collective

66.Megan Sandberg-Zakian - As an Armenian and Jewish theater director & part of the MEA community, I strongly support the sentiments in this letter and my undersigned colleagues.

67.Lauren Miller, director

68.Andrea Assaf, Art2Action Inc.

69.Ruba Mansouri-actor/singer - Please give us a chance to tell our stories! In Solidarity.

70.Brittany Zaken

71.Karyn Casl

72.Andrea Ciannavei

73.Monet Hurst-Mendoza, Playwright, Producer, Theatre Artist

74.Jeff Hathcoat Actor

75.Salma Shaw, Actor/Producer/Executive

76.Dianne Nora, playwright

77.Maria Enriquez, PhD Candidate. University of Pittsburgh

78.Bruce Allardice Executive Director Ping Chong + Co

79.Cherry Lou Sy, Brooklyn College

80.Ben Andersen, Stage Manager

81.Carlos Sirah, MFA Brown University

82.Taylor Edelhart, Theatremaker

83.Terry Weber Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre Lets see the genetic lottery

84.Gineiris Garcia, Director

85.Julian Ramis, PA, The Late Show - As a straight Jewish male I see myself reflected on television all the time. It feels good. It has helped me to grow as a person. More people should be afforded that experience.

86.Mariel Sierra - Actor/Director

87.Neal Gupta - ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

88.Carolina Do, Actor and Writer

89.Adriana Sevahn Nichols

90.Liz Ung

91.Steven Mosley - Yes

92.Deepa Prurohit, Playwright

93.Colleen Werthmann, Actor & Writer, Makes sense to me

94.Nina Louise Morrison, Playwright

95.Derek Tobia

96.Nikki Massoud, ME AEA Actor

97.Nora Montañez, Actor, Writer, Founder of ALMA

98.Amanda Rodriguez, arts administrator

99.Hossein Forouzandeh, Actor

100.Colette Robert, Director

101.Denise Yvette Serna, Front of House Manager, Steppenwolf Theatre Company

102.Tipton Carlson, very white, long term advocate for the peace, justice and erstwhile theatre geek, Second the notion that even small, supportive roles are enriching for the production

103.Greg Watanabe, actor- In solidarity

104.Kayhan Irani, Artivista Productions - It's about time.

105.Viviana Vargas - Currently Latinx at The Public Theater and would like to have Middle Eastern voices on staff

106.Kara Volkmann

107.Jenna Mahmoud Bosco -  I sign this in solidarity as a mixed race actress of North African descent, daughter of a Muslim immigrant, and family member to many Muslims. I saw "The Profane" several nights ago, and while I was initially ecstatic to discover that there was a play about Muslim immigrants at a prominent theater company, I left the theater feeling frustrated. Namely, I sensed that the play was written through a generalized white gaze - and ironically, this was before I realized that the playwright and director were both white. I know that the creative team surely had the best of intentions, but in truth this fact makes me uncomfortable and upsets me, especially given the lack of opportunity/visibility
we artists of color receive in the first place.

After I saw the show, I went on Facebook to post about the issue, but I decided I didn't have the energy to do it. I emailed my friend that night, telling her I would be her date at the next Noor Theater event because I'm eager to get involved. And then today, I see this beautiful letter written by Noor Theater. I feel grateful to this community for verbalizing the emotions I am feeling about this theater industry I love dearly.

Please remember, we live in a society that does not even formally recognize our complex existence as Middle Easterners, North Africans, and all of the varying intersectional identities in between. We don't even have a culturally vague box to check on the current US census (thankfully there is an effort to change this on the next census in 2020 - if it will pass through Congress remains to be seen). As an American who grew up feeling culturally and ethnically invisible, and who continues to feel this way, I can assure you: this erasure does not feel good - and it is why it is of paramount importance that theater companies do more to amplify and uplift our marginalized voices - now more than ever. Nobody will tell our stories as well as we can. We need more seats at the table.

108.Serwah A.

109.Kara Lee Corthron, playwright and teacher

110.Mikhail Fiksel, Theatre Maker

111.Lynne Marie Rosenberg, CastAndLoose

112.Lena Rizkallah

113.Kate Moore Heaney, Associate Artistic Producer, Noor Theatre

114.Mali Zaken

115.Tim Raphael, Director of the Newest Americans project - At a moment when the nation is so deeply conflicted over difference, it is critically important for our profession and our democracy that new constituencies assume leadership positions in the theater.

116.Samantha Sherman

117.Aaron Unger, cook

118.Chichi Anyanwu Cooper Company - STANDING WITH YOU

119.Carrie zaken

120.Rosalind Barbour, The Public Theater

121.Arash Mokhtar, Actor

122.Brandi E. Brown

123.Jessi D. Hill, Director

124.George Abud, actor

125.Derek Tobia

126.Winter Miller, Playwright - Representation is a necessary part of these ongoing conversations

127.Leandro A. Zaneti, Yale School of Drama, Codify Art 

128.David Zinn, designer

129.Shantez M Tolbut - Diversify theater!!!

130.Jaime Totti, Yale School of Drama, Theater Management - Until we have a diverse set of views and lived experiences in the management and leadership of our organizations, we will never properly represent the diverse experiences of the world on our stages. I proudly stand in solidarity. Pa'lante!

131.Taeyin ChoGlueck, InterAction, playwright

132.Carla Pantoja - Actor/Fight Director

133.Emma Goldman-Sherman, playwright - as always, your ally

134.Amrita Ramanan at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival - I stand with you in solidarity!

135.Valerie Weak, actor - Signing in solidarity and with a firm belief in the value of honoring diverse voices perspectives and experiences

136.Eden Zane

137. Mohamed Morsy - I support Muslims' rights to tell their stories.

138.Jaime Totti, Yale School of Drama, Theater Management - Until we have a diverse set of views and lived experiences in the management and leadership of our organizations, we will never properly represent the diverse experiences of the world on our stages. I proudly stand in solidarity. Pa'lante!

139.Lauren Villegas, Founder Project Am I Right - Representation matters. Do better.

140.Elisa Bocanegra, HERO Theatre

141.Mehry Eslaminia, Actor

142.Robert Ariza, Actor

143.Josh Sobel, Artistic Director of Haven Theatre, Chicago

144.Alice Brandwein (general public, not in the field)

145.Nilou Safinya, Producer

146.Lisa Sharon

147.Sevan K. Greene, Actor/Playwright - We MUST stop the national geographic experience of our stories and our people as perpetuated by the majority of the industry. Let us own our stories. We don't need them filtered through your gaze but we DO want your collaboration and your guidance and your open doors. We need to ALL work together to shift and change the paradigm, but you can't shut us out Industry.

148.Michelle Wilson - Solidarity!

149.Lloyd Suh

150.Jason Najjoum, Yale School of Drama/Yale School of Management student in Theater Management

151.Alexander Santiago-Jirau, Director of Education, New York Theatre Workshop - In solidarity!

152.Hannah Fenlon, Theatre Communications Group

153.Jack Gobillot, Writer

154.Luis Moreno, Actor

155.Melis Aker, actor and playwright (Columbia Playwriting MFA)

156.Sophia Skiles, Adjunct Faculty, Theater and Performance at SUNY Purchase

157.A.J. Muhammad - Thank you for this letter and for requesting that there be accountability! There is no excuse for these organizations that get public funding to continue to shut out and exclude artists from various communities and religious backgrounds from being at the table especially when they are producing a play about Muslims and Islam.

158.johnalynn holland, writer

159.Leah Nanako Winkler

160.Jenna Welch, Artistic Director of StoryWorks from Reveal + the Center for Investigative Reporting

161.Taous Claire Khazem

162.Joanna Settle, Director

163.Charlotte Brathwaite, Director

164.Lindsey Turteltaub, Stage Manager

165.Michael Crane, actor

166.Ngozi Anyanwu, NOW AFRICA

167.Rebecca Vineyard, Actor/ Writer/ Literary Manager of Crashbox Theatre Company

168.Hafiz Karmali, Director

169.James Anthony Tyler, Playwright

170.Nora Armani, Actor/Playwright Founder SR Film Festival - Diverse points of view are very important and there is nothing wrong with non-Middle Eastern people directing a play about the Middle East, but consultation should be open and ongoing with Middle Eastern artists on matters that concern our unique experiences.

171.Selene Betancourt, Director

172.Sara Minisquero, actor, SM and theatre admin

173.Nilou Safinya, Producer

174.Sophia Skiles, Adjunct Faculty, Theater and Performance at SUNY Purchase

175.Vikas Menon, Writer

176.Flor De Liz Perez, actress - I absolutely support and stand behind the content and spirit of this letter!!! #insolidarity

177.Marjan Neshat, actor

178.Alexandra Meda, Teatro Luna - In solidarity. This impacts so many parts of our field and this kind of speaking up is so important. Thank you.

179.Malik Gillani, Founding Executive Director, Silk Road Rising - Nothing about us, without us, is for us.

180.Catherine Porter, actor/producer

181.Amin El Gamal - Until we are given the opportunity to sit at the decision making table, representations of MENA/Muslim people will continue to perpetuate misunderstanding and hate.

182.Brett Tubbs, Actor

183.Sana Sepehri, actress

184.Magin Schantz, Community-based Artist

185.Nandita Shenoy, playwright and actor - Diversity is important on both sides of the table, now more than ever.

186.Ray Yamanouchi, Playwright

187.Ruth Heyman, Actor - Beautifully stated. It's time to push the boundaries of our discomfort as a privileged white society of which I am a part. No stone must go unturned as we dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, gender discrimination, antisemitism and question the class and cultural structure of our country. It's a huge undertaking but it must never be dismissed as unimportant, inappropriate or irrelevant in any given situation. The theatrical community, especially the mainstream and commercial, must step up to the task!

188.Jack Moore, Dramaturg 

189.Allison Hargrove, actor

190.Tracy Cameron Francis, Director

191.Ramsey Faragallah - When Ms. Soloski from The New York Times asked the cast of The Profane if it was a problem for us to work on a play written by a white playwright and under the leadership of a white director, she asked for our own opinions. Let me be perfectly clear: We were never asked to speak for a "larger power structure" or to "defend" this fine production. 
Your implications are damaging. You are presuming we cannot (or will not) speak for ourselves and that we must also have a problem with Mr. Dohrn's play or working with Mr. Fagan.You are presuming we had to swallow our opinions in order to "defend" this play or our participation in it. Both of your suppositions are whole heartedly not true. I believe you impinge our integrity in order to make your case stronger & more immediate.
But more troubling is that your asumptions automatically put the actors working on the play in a submissive orientation. I find it ironic and sad that just as you j'accuse producing organizations of "…perpetuat[ing] the notion that we are a voiceless, powerless group, incapable of representing ourselves", you seem to be given to the exact same disturbing bias. 
All that aside, I enthusiastically support the drastically needed Big Three points you concisely put forward in your letter. I wish for an ever-widening diversity within production companies across all media. As members of underrepresented communities, we need to support one another as we all struggle for equity. But we must accomplish these goals all the while remaining diligent in identifying our own biases, as well as those of others whom we respect. Let us move forward in positive, powerful and united ways. 

192.Ernest Abuba - It is itself "profane" that colonialism continues to infect the humane condition.

193.Logan Reed, Director

194.Mina Morita, Crowded Fire Theater Company

194.Patrick Lazour, music theatre writer

195.Susan Gurman, Agent - We give the disenfranchised an opportunity to speak, to act, to be heard!

196.Zaynab Malik

197.Heidi Griffiths, Casting Director -The Public Theater

198.Geoffrey Jackson Scott and Aaron Cedolia, Peoplmovr

199.Trent Anderson, Yale School of Drama

200.Andie Bottrell, Actor

201.Martha Richards, Executive Director, WomenArts

202.Margo Viscusi - American Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre

203.Ryan Gilliam, artist and executive director, Downtown Art - I agree with you that systemic change is necessary and urgent. Specific examples can lay bare the need for addressing power, representation, access, exploitation and racism - but even as single instances are addressed, which is essential, it's important that we not get confused about how this is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the culture we live within. We cannot let ourselves off the hook as a field - and, as pointed out, this falls specifically to those of us who have privilege or gate-keeping roles. Ultimately, this is not about one production -- this is about us and each decision we make. Aiming to work in solidarity with you to make change real.

204. Josh Sobel, Artistic Director, Haven Theatre, Chicago

205.marjory steinweiss, musician /artist

206.Cara Greene

207.Shana Gozansky, Freelance Director

208.Margaret Toomey, Sound Theatre Company, Seattle, WA

209.Kate Murray, The Public Theater

210.Alvan Colon-Lespier, Associate Artistic Director, Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater

211.Gary M. English, Director, Designer and Visiting Professor Al Quds/Bard, Abu Dis, Palestine

212.Sanjit De Silva, Actor

213.Taha Mandviwala, actor based in Cincinnati

214.Aizzah Fatima, Actor, Playwright

215.Jordan Thaler, Casting Director, The Public Theater

216.Milo Cramer, playwright

217.Kimber Lee

218.Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, Playwright

219.Ruby Rae Spiegel, playwright

220.Sanaz Toossi - Let us tell our stories!

221.Daniel Lazour, music theatre writer

222.Sylvia Khoury, writer

223.Mike Lew, playwright

224.Jiehae Park

225.Harrison David Rivers, Writer

226.Suzana Berger, Philadelphia theatre maker

227.Sami Metwasi, Actor, writer, stage director - I totally agree and support, it is so crucial to have the truth out their especially in the art we present since it's the most engaging medium to bring cultures closer together, reflect on reality, and keep genuine authenticity alive.

228.Kristine M. Reyes, playwright 

229. Abhishek Shrestha -- Literary Manager, Haven Theatre

230.Krissy Shields SAG AFTRA AEA - Way to go! I stand with you all the way. Diversify the theatre!

231.Felice Locker, Playwright 

232.Sonja Lowe, Dramaturg (Seattle, WA)

233.Cristina Angeles, Latina Director and Theater Artist

234.Lee Patton Chiles, Playwright, Director, and Educator - At Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri I teach U.S. Diversity Through Theatre. The class is usually very diverse and we read plays and watch films. The two South Asian selections we study, DISGRACED and THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, never fail to grab their attention and generate a lot of classroom discussion. The question I always get is, "Why aren't there more places where we can see this kind of work?" It is my question too.

235.Yas Dallali

236. Martín Zimmerman, playwright

237.Moe Yousuf - Target Margin Theater

238.Mark Plesent, Producing Artistic Director, Working Theater

239.Alec Duffy, Co-Director, JACK

240.Nikki Marron

241.Michael Malek Najjar, University of Oregon

242.Elisabeth Frankel, Playwright

243.david zaken

244.Rehana Husain Lew Mirza

245.Adil Mansoor, Director w/ Hatch Arts Collective

246.Shannon Tyo

247.Sarah Elkashef- Dramaturg

248.Gerryl Puelle, theater lover

249.Ralph B. Peña, Producing Artistic Director, Ma-Yi Theater Company

250.Erin B Mee, This Is Not A Theatre Company and NYU Tisch

251.Kate Tarker, playwright

252.Amina Henry Playwright - I will always support wide-range diversity in the American theater.

253.Howard Pflanzer, Playwright and Board Member, Medicine Show Theatre - Greater inclusiveness with members of varied artistic and cultural backgrounds is necessary in making artistic decisions by theatre companies.

254.Ashraf Hasham, Arts Administrator (Seattle, WA)

255.Armineh Hovanesian

256.Jonathan Castanien - As an Asian American artist, I support this call for equity and inclusion. It is a necessary step that we as a theatre community must begin to focus on.

257.Owais Ahmed, Definition Theatre.

258.Niki Afsar

259.Sarah Elkashef- Dramaturg

260.Carly D. Weckstein

261.Pamela Sterling. Associate Professor Arizona State University

262.Eli Van Sickel - Chicago based sound designer and director

263.Theo Germaine, chicago-based trans actorsigning in solidarity!

264.Daniel Jaquez, Freelance Director

265.Lue Douthit, Director, Play on! Oregon Shakespeare Festival

266.Lydia Garcia, Dramaturg and Facilitator, artEquity

267.Andrea Abello, New-York based actress - With support, solidarity and love

268.Ry Szelong, Playwrights Horizons Theater School graduate

269.Sturgis Warner

270.Sam Chanse

271.Mouna R'miki, actor and other variations

272.Will MacAdams, playwright/director

273.Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Professor, Montclair State University and NYU Abu Dhabi - More and varied voices from within Arab and South Asian Muslim communities need to be represented on US Stages which challenge the dominant narratives. To be subjected to the same old cliches is trite and boring besides being offensive. We need better theatre that doesn't insult our intelligence for goodness' sake!

274.Nicole A. Watson, Director and teacher

275.Paola Sanchez Abreu, Actress of Color.

276.Debra Levine, NYU Abu Dhabi

277.Gregg Mozgala, The Apothetae - I support this effort

278.Sarah Elkashef- Dramaturg

279.Aziza Macklin- Actor

280. Noha ElGanzouri - Thank you Noor theatre for writing this article, for creating this dialogue, and showing the need to listen to Middle Eastern artist who need to b seated at the table. It can only benefit the entire artistic process.

281.Claudia Quesada & Actor - Equality for all. People of color are still people. Respect us. Let our voice be heard.

282.Donatella Galella, UC Riverside

283.Virginia Louloudes

284.David Roberts, SDC Foundation

285.Rachel Karpf, Producer

286.Diana Burbano, Playwright

287.Elizabeth Bolster, Wardrobe Supervisor, Yale Repertory Theatre

288.Lawrence Rush

289.Alex Hare, director

290.Maizy Broderick Scarpa-- playwright, director, performerRepresentation matters.

291.Stacey Cabaj, Louisiana State University

292.Scott Palmer, Artistic Director- Bag&Baggage Productions - Those of us in the Pacific Northwest with a commitment to inclusion, equity, diversity, and authenticity are 100% in support of this powerful and timely statement. As a small, suburban theatre company in the largely white and homogeneous community of Hillsboro, Oregon, our mission is to bring our audiences to a deeper understanding of the importance of our shared human history, and to examine the basic truths of our shared humanity - to focus on intersectionality rather division, and to ensure that the representations of the cultures we present on our stages are shaped by artists (of all kinds) on stage, in the rehearsal space, in the board room, and in the administrative offices. We have SO far to go, and SO much work to do, and we are nowhere NEAR where we want to be, but we do stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who spend their creative lives seeking to challenge Islamophobia and divisiveness.

293.Christine Toy JohnsonPlaywright and Actor

294.Poppy Golland, theater producer and actor

295.Charlayne Woodard, Dramatists Guild member - Theatres are talking about "Diversity" at length but the work of diversity and inclusion starts with the actual staff of these institutions.

296.Zi Alikhan, Director, Educator.

297.Stephanie Gilman, Senior Manager Youth Development and School Culture, CUNY Early College Initiative

298.Victoria Nassif - I couldn't agree more, and have been trying to enter the world of theatre administration (currently "just" an actor) so that my voice can be heard and I can be a part of fixing this problem.

299.Snehal Desai, Artistic Director, East West Players

300.Portia Krieger, Director

301.Juliana Francis Kelly Actor, Writer, Teacher

302.Mashuq Mushtaq DeenIn solidarity

303.David Shih

304.Geeta Citygirl, SALAAM TheatreGracias for speaking truth to power.

305.Jon Catherwood-Ginn, Associate Director of Programming, Moss Arts Center

306.Eva Breneman, Dialect Coach, Chicago,  - In solidarity

307.Tita Anntares - Cultural understanding of a play is important for the artistic power of a play as well for equity reasons

308.Bryn Thorsson, Theatre Teacher

309.Jenny Rachel Weiner, Playwright

310.Jacqueline Antaramian ( actor) - Very thoughtful and important letter . A discussion long long overdue. Thank you, I sign in solidarity 100%.

311.Barzin Akhavan Actor

312.Zohar Tirosh-Polk, Playwright

313.Madhuri Shekar, playwright

Gamze Ceylan, actor - Assumptions, right, wrong, less, more, visible, invisible...at least we are talking!! And this letter, this move invites such dialogues!! Onwards!!

314.Madhuri Shekar, playwright - Thank you for your statement and work. I stand in solidarity. While I agreed with the intent of your letter before seeing the production, after seeing the production, I am even more convinced of the artistic necessity of letting marginalized people tell their own stories, drawn from the specificity of their own experiences, with the support of the the American theatre community.

315.Zhu Yi, Ma-Yi Writers' Group

316.Dustin Chinn

317.Teresa Coleman Wash, Bishop Arts Theatre CenterStanding in solidarity 100%

318.Alanna Medlock, Actor - While I hold dear the freedom of artists to pursue the work and subjects that move them, independent of their ethnicity or faith (and I haven't seen or read the play), it's past time for our leading storytelling institutions to be more diverse, and I support your thoughtful and intelligent call to initiate a larger dialogue and awareness around these important issues of authorship, ownership and representation.

319.Jon Kern, writer - Trying harder, trying better for community outreach and understanding seems like a minimum requirement.

320.Maria Michaels Moussa, Writer/Producer/Actor

321.Tahsin Sayeed Noor, Playwright, Actor - As an actor and playwright of Middle-Eastern descent, I am in complete solidarity with all your concerns. Especially in a time of such extremism and the rise of the far right, the one thing we need more than ever is to be actually heard rather than shouted down or silenced by power structures that dominate by deceiving both the powerless and the masses. Solidarity is a simple thing, representation is a simple thing, inclusion is a simple thing -- this should not have to be so difficult. With complete solidarity

322.Kathleen Chalfant, actor

323.Michele Lowe, playwright

324.Pia Haddad, Actor/Producer

325.Sarah Einspanier

326.Mary Hamilton playwright - This is a crucial moment. We're all behind you!

327.Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

328.Mrinalini Kamath, playwright

329.Jonathan Norton, playwright - In solidarity.

330.Russell G. Jones Founder, BLIND SPOT - Solidarity with this cause is solidarity with the future of theater as I'd like it to be.

331.Caitlin Crombleholme, Yale School of Drama

332.Dianna Lauren Jones, Performing Artist

333.Ahmad Maksoud, actor

334.Nadine Malouf - Actor - no matter our ethnicity, skin colour, backgrounds, or beliefs - this conversation is incredibly important. together. let us keep it open, moving forward, with honesty and respect for each other - always. and let us continue to open doors (in theatre and in life) into a more positive, diverse, and inclusive future.

335.Jordana De La Cruz & The Park Avenue Armory


337.Naveen Bahar Choudhury, playwright

338.Dawn Monique Williams

339.Maryam Khan - Thank you Noor Theatre.

340.Aisha Jaleel - OMG! This play was 100% white gaze. The playwright has not a clue what it means to be a religious Muslim or secular. When the guy hid the prayer rug! Are you kidding me? He hid the prayer rug? Yep, white guy trying to write a Muslim play. Yuck. PH needs to start giving Muslim writers a chance.

341.Rita Hasan - I won't go back to PH. This really made me sick.

342.Arian Moayed - I fully stand by Lameece, Noor and all of these incredibly important statements. What Lameece and MENA actors/artists/designers can bring to the conversation is not only essential but needed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

343.Waleed Shah - I left the theatre feeling sick.  Thank you Noor theatre!

344.Rohina Malik, Resident Playwright, Chicago Dramatists - With respect and open hearts, good will come from these vital conversations.  

345.Antu Yacob, Actor/Playwright   

346.Claudia Alick, Community Producer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival - IN SOLIDARITY

347.Alexandra Vásquez        

348.Tlaloc Rivas, Writer & Director

349.Sarah Bazzi, Producer - In solidarity

350.Neilesh Bose, University of Victoria - In solidarity

351.Sherrice Mojgani, Lighting Designer - Thank You, Representation is everything

352.Eissa Saeed - Hi, as a gay Muslim playwright and performer, these are important questions that we need to ask and discuss because it's not just about whose story is being told but who's telling that story as well.

353.Riti Sachdeva, theatre maker & cutlural worker        

354.Natasha Sinha, Producer/Dramaturg 

355.Reza Behjat     "I am an Iranian lighting designer based in NYC.  Last year I assisted the original / workshop production of The Profane at Chautauqua Theater Company. Since I am Middle Eastern I was able to point out some critical cultural subtle notes over the rehearsal and tech week. It is very true that we have to be involved in productions that are telling our stories and representing us. "

356.Barbara Samuels, Lighting Designer 

357.MARYAM - actor and storyteller - "Bravo Noor Theater!  I read the response from Playwrights Horizons.  But where is the response from Mr. Zayd and Mr. Kip?  Zayd had so much to say about my community in his ""Muslim"" (White Lens) play, why so silent now?  "

358.Mrs. Hasan - Read the NY Times review.  The critic refers to the religious family as "Fundamentalists."    As a religious Muslim, I can't begin to express my hurt.  Religious Muslims are NOT ""Fundamentalists.""   This is what happens when white men tell our story.  They do more harm than good. 

359.Fiona Keane, playwright        

360.Kevin Artigue, playwright     

361.Andrea Cristina Thome, Playwright

362.Randi Berry, IndieSpace and the Indie Theater Fund - In solidarity

363.Naomi Wallace, playwright

364.Sarah Hughes, Artistic Producer of Target Margin TheaterThank you for opening up this important conversation!

365.Nadia Saleh, Barnard College

366.M Ardebili, Barnard College - Not am I troubled by who was hired to produce the play, the content of the play also troubled me

367.David Skeist, Actor

368.Penny Pun         

369.Matthew Ginovsky, Scenic Carpenter, Oregon Shakespeare Festival      

370.Rachel Yong, Actor/Writer - I saw the show and was thrilled to see actors of color on stage - simple as that. Initially, thinking Zayd was Middle Eastern and/or Muslim, I was just thankful PH chose to produce the play and provided some talented folks with the opportunity to be seen and add representation at thatbasic level. I thought several of the performances were rich & complex, and the script was complex as well. In the talkback though, and then in Zayd's interview, realizing Zayd was not Middle Eastern or Muslim, and suddenly aware of the defensiveness of that, I didn't find the rigor of engaging with actualMuslim audiences and the process of getting honest feedback sufficient. PH's efforts and the result of those efforts seemed disingenuous. Noor's suggestion to have had a dramaturg at the very least is a great one. I'm grateful for this open letter, and think this is such an important conversation to have. I'm also curious if there were specific issues individuals took with 'the play itself,' or if it is just the principle or having more people at the table that is at stake. i.e. was producing The Profane a step in the right direction for PH? or did it cause more harm than good? xx

371.Richard Lalli, Professor of Music, Yale Univerity 

372.Kimberly Marable, Muslim actor