(via John Wyszniewski, Everyman Agency)



In the wake of the horrible explosion in Beirut on August 4, Rattlestick Playwrights TheaterNew York Theatre Salon, and the team members behind Global Forms Theater Festival are coming together to host A Love Letter to Lebanon, a benefit performance on Saturday, August 15th at 1pm EST to raise money for those whose lives have been affected by the explosion. Visit rattlestick.org for more information. 

The event is Free and open to the public, and we encourage donations to one of the many causes at Beirut, No Show Tonight and United for Lebanon, along with Lebanese Red CrossLebanese Food Bank ,  Impact Lebanon – Lebanese expat group partnering with Baytna Baytak (Our House is Your House) and othersOffre Joie housing restoration, and Donner Sang Compter.

Featuring multidisciplinary performances and conversations, “A Love Letter to Lebanon will create a communal experience to both celebrate Lebanese culture and raise necessary funds.  Jody Doo and Salma S. Zohdi will host this event which will feature artists fajjr+ali, Olivia Abiassi, Najat Arkadan Washington, Nora Armani, Sarah Bitar, Leila Buck, Catherine Coray, Myrna Davonne, Ryan J. Haddad, Dave Hall, Ismail Khalidi, el-Walad (Mohamad J. Hodeib), and Hiba Sleiman. “A Love Letter to Lebanon” is co-produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and New York Theatre Salon and curated by Lucy Powis, Chrysi Sylaidi, and Salma S. Zohdi. 

Visit https://www.rattlestick.org/20192020-season/2020/8/15/a-love-letter-to-lebanon-1 for more information. 


fajjr+ali (Performer) is a pop duo comprised of vocalist Fajjr Khan and songwriter Ali Andre Ali. They combine poetic and heartfelt storytelling with a contemporary sound, bringing a new image to American pop music. With constant media focus on the Middle East, South Asia, and Muslim women, fajjr+ali hope to shed light on a different facet of their beautiful and varied cultures. They released their debut EP eleven90 in June of 2020, which features production by Grammy Award-winning producer Shafiq Husayn. Their album is an eclectic mix of pop and soul that offers a diverse sampling of their talents as songwriters and musicians.

Olivia Abiassi (Performer) is an Arab-American singer and actor based in NYC. Recent theater performances include The Commons (59E59/The Heart), Pride and Prejudice (Heritage Theatre Festival), Narrow Daylight (Live and In Color), Eh Dah?: Questions For My Father (NYTW, Next Door), Our House (Players Theatre), The Tempest (Columbia Stages), and The Rose Tattoo (Williamstown Theatre Festival).

Najat Arkadan Washington (Performer) is a Lebanese-born actor fluent in Arabic. In 1989, she immigrated with her family to the US, settling in Brooklyn. Among Najat’s work: In Silence, a short film in which she had a supporting role, made the festival rounds. 10,000 Balconies, loosely based on Romeo & Juliet and set in Damascus, Syria, gave audiences rare insight into the rich tapestry of life in Syria. Her TV debut was on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. The episode, “Alta Knockers” (Yiddish for “crotchety old person”), guest starred two of the best at portraying such: Judd Hirsch and Wallace Shawn.

Nora Armani (Performer) Multilingual, multicultural actor, director, filmmaker, film curator, Nora has performed on four continents in over 25 cities worldwide earning accolades. Off-Broadway: Terrorism, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Sojourn at Ararat (Joe’s Pub). London: Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising (Arcola Theatre), Arms and the Man (Young Vic Theatre), Paris: La Fête Virile (Cartoucherie), Cairo: The King and I, and world touring solo and duo shows. Film & TV: La Nouvelle Eve, Voisin Voisine, Good Funk, Labyrinth, “Casualty” (BBC), “Golden Boy” (CBS), “Black List: Redemption” (NBC), “The Friends” (EGTV). Recently directed iMigrant Woman. Honored to participate. www.noraarmani.net

Sarah Bitar (Performer) is a Lebanese trilingual actorvist and singer based in NYC, trained at the Stella Adler Studio. Currently, she is a guest artist with the LAByrinth Theatre Company’s Summer Intensive Ensemble. Recent credits include Revolución (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre),  Ful Nabit (AND Theatre), Almost, MaineAt a CrossroadsGolden Girl by the SeaHoliday Jingles (TEAM Theatre). Short films include Like Salt (Darine Hoteit); The Balcony Screen (Monica Nassif). Sarah is an active member of the Theatre Relief Group in Lebanon which aims to offer immediate support to the theater community and theater spaces after the explosion that took place in the port of Beirut on August 4th, 2020. 

Leila Buck (Performer) is a Lebanese American playwright, actor, facilitator and educator.  She has performed and developed her work at the Public, NYTW, Culture Project, BRIC, Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Public Theatre, Mosaic Theater at Arena Stage, and the Wilma, and lived, performed, and taught theatrical tools for literacy, conflict resolution, and intercultural engagement to youth, educators, aid workers, UN delegates and others across NYC, the U.S., Europe, China, Australia and 11 Arab countries.  She is a member of the Public’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, a Usual Suspect with NYTW, and teaches Creation and Representation in U.S. Theater at NYU. https://www.larktheatre.org/about-us/playwrights/leila-buck/

Catherine Coray (Performer) has taught at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts since 1991, and has taught and collaborated with artists in Austria, Belarus, Chile, Cuba, Egypt and Lebanon.  As an actor, she worked regionally and off-Broadway with directors such as Anne Bogart and Andre Gregory. She is the Director of The Lark Middle East-US Playwright Exchange; she curated and co-produced Arab Voices: here/there/then/now (Abu Dhabi, 2016), Arab Voices: Stories of Palestine (Beirut, 2018), and Arab Voices: Three New Dramatic Texts from Beirut  and Berlin  (NYC, 2019.)  Catherine serves on the advisory boards of several institutions, including The Georgetown Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics and the Communications Arts Division of Lebanese American University.

Myrna Davonne (Performer) is an actress who recently earned her MFA in Acting from the Actors Studio Drama School. Born in Brussels, Belgium, she was raised between France and Belgium. She earned a BA in Theater, went on to study at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting Conservatory and spent a summer training at Cours Florent in Paris. When she got accepted into the Actors Studio Drama School, it was a dream come true. She spent last summer performing in Paris, starred in her first long feature film and performed in her own play, No Friends in New York. Growing up speaking French, Italian, and Lebanese Arabic, she thrives to honor the work in every language and honor every culture.

Jody Doo (Host), born and raised in sunny Singapore, is an actor based in Brooklyn. She is also a seasoned emcee, having hosted umpteen roadshows, charity events, sporting competitions and improv shows. She is honored to host “A Love Letter to Lebanon”. Let’s come together to celebrate the Lebanese culture and raise funds for Beirut. www.jodydoo.com

Ryan J. Haddad (Performer) is an actor, playwright, and autobiographical performer based in New York. His acclaimed solo play Hi, Are You Single? was presented in The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and continues to tour the country. Other New York credits include My Straighties (Ars Nova/ANT Fest), Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts (Theater Breaking Through Barriers), and the cabaret Falling for Make Believe (Joe’s Pub/Under the Radar). Regional theatre: The Maids, Lucy Thurber’s Orpheus in the Berkshires (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and Hi, Are You Single? (Guthrie Theater, Cleveland Play House, Williamstown Theatre Festival). He has a recurring role on the Netflix series “The Politician.” Additional television: “Bull,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Haddad is a recipient of IAMA Theatre Company’s Shonda Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission and Rising Phoenix Repertory’s Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award. His work has been developed with The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Noor Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Primary Stages, and Pride Plays. He is an alum of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group and a former Queer|Art Performance and Playwriting Fellow, under the mentorship of Moe Angelos.  @ryanjhaddad and ryanjhaddad.com.

Dave Hall (Performer) is a Lebanese-American whose family still retains its love of Lebanon after four generations in the US. His maternal Lahoud family comes from Bouar in the Mount Lebanon region. A songwriter and composer, Dave is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He’s written music and lyrics for theater, composes classical song cycles, and has released several recordings of original pop and classical music. He divides his time between New York City and the Hudson River Valley of New York, where his Lebanese great-grandparents first settled after coming to the US. davehallmusic.com

Ismail Khalidi’s (Performer)  plays include Truth Serum Blues (Pangea World Theater ‘05), Tennis in Nablus (Alliance Theatre ‘10),  Foot (Teatro Amal ‘16), Sabra Falling (Pangea ‘17),  and Dead Are My People (Noor Theatre ’18). He also co-adapted two novels for the stage with Naomi Wallace; Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa (Finborough Theatre ‘18) and Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer (Actors Theatre of Louisville ‘19). Khalidi co-edited  Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG ‘15) and his writing has been featured in American Theatre Magazine, The Kenyon Review, The Nation,  Mizna, Guernica, The Dramatist and ReMezcla.  Khalidi holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is currently a Directing Fellow at Pangea World Theater.

el-Walad (Mohamad J. Hodeib) (Performer) is a Brooklyn-based cultural activist & producer, born and raised in Beirut. el-Walad experiments with words, flow, sound, and performance. Rambling between sidewalks, coffeeshops, bars and stages since 2009. Featured in numerous forums and art platforms including TEDx, Bowery Poetry Club and Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and MoMA. Co-founder of el-Yafta (band of poets and literary circle). They have hosted poetry shows and direct writers’ workshops since 2011. el-Walad’s first collection of Lebanese colloquial poems was published in 2013 (الشوارع).

Lucy Powis (Curator) is a dramaturg, producer, and arts administrator who hails from Toronto. She is a Literary Coordinator at A3 Artists Agency and previously held seasonal positions in the artistic departments of Roundabout, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Recent credits include producing the Global Forms Theater Festival (Rattlestick/New York Theatre Salon), In the Penal Colony (Next Door @ NYTW), Really Really Gorgeous (The Tank), [wave emoji] (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest), Between the Threads: Jewish Women Project (HERE), and PROSPERITY! (LPAC’s Rough Draft Festival); and dramaturging How to Mourn an American (Rough Draft Festival) and Golden Shield (workshop, NYTW). MFA Dramaturgy: Columbia University. www.lucypowis.com

Hiba Sleiman (Performer) has worked intensively as an actor, writer and dramaturg with various theatre and film directors in Lebanon as well as International and Arab American artists. She directed The devil is in Danger, a theatre play written by Toufic Al Hakim and Dounia, a short film that she co-wrote and created. Upon her arrival in Canada, Hiba collaborated with MT Space on facilitating two Youth Theatre programs. She was selected for the Emerging Artists Roundtable with Gargantua Theatre in Toronto and collaborated with Flush Ink Productions on She Speaks staged readings in KW. She also collaborated with the Major Matt Mason Collective on The Green Line reading workshop in Calgary. Hiba’s combined passion for psychology and arts, has led her to pursue a career made up of acting and writing for film and theatre. She is currently developing her own play that she aims to produce in Canada.

Chrysi Sylaidi (Curator) is an actor, producer, director from Greece based in NYC. She is a graduate from the 3-year Conservatory at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, she is a resident artist at the Greek Cultural Center, and she is a founding and board member of TeamTheatre LLC an international theatre company based in NYC. 

Najat Arkadan Washington (Performer) is a New York-based, Middle Eastern-born actress. Najat speaks fluent Arabic and has worked on numerous productions from major motion films to independent projects. She recently made her television debut on controversial episode of NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU”. “In Silence”, a short film in which Najat had a supporting role in, is currently touring the festival circuit.

Salma S. Zohdi (Curator, Host) is an Egyptian Dramaturg based in New York City. In Egypt, Salma was Alumni Community Theatre’s (ACT) Public Relations and Marketing Manager, where she also worked as a producer, teaching artist, stage manager, and assistant director. Since relocating to the US, Salma’s theatre credits include: The Mecca TalesThe Yacoubian BuildingOperating Systems, Mix & MatchThe Conversationalists, Pilgrims Musa & Sheri in the New World, Global Forms Theatre Festival (GFTF), and Google It’s Complicated! MA: AUC – English & Comparative Literature. MFA: Columbia University – Theatre (Dramaturgy). https://zohdiscriptconsultancy.com/

About New York Theatre Salon

New York Theatre Salon is a monthly social event for professional theatre artists from different nations, cultures, and communities. Through their monthly panel discussion and networking events, they aim to explore and revitalize the social function of theatre. New York Theatre Salon was co-founded by producer Yue Liu and playwright and actor Troy Segala.

Visit https://www.nytheatresalon.com/ for more information.

About Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Founded in 1994, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater consistently produces new voices and works that are provocative and immediate in both form and substance. Rattlestick has a deep commitment to producing fierce works that challenge and stimulate audiences to confront the complexities of our culture. Notable productions include: Diana Oh’s {mylingerieplay}, Dael Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Few and Lewiston/Clarkston, Jesse Eisenberg’s The Revisionist, Jonathan Tolins’ Buyer and Cellar, Lucy Thurber’s The Hilltown Plays, Adam Rapp’s The Hallway Trilogy, Cori Thomas’ Lockdown, and Martyna Majok’s Ironbound.

Visit rattlestick.org for more information.


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