A Minnesota-based Arab and Muslim theater collective is raising funds for the coming year:
The Midwestern theater collective “New Arab American Theater Works” is raising money for GiveMN’s “Give to the Max” day, November 17, to support three new plays by Arab and Muslim playwrights: Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, William Nour, and Kathryn Haddad.
Haddad is a playwright, teacher, and long-time organizer who helped found the Arab-American artis and literary organization Mizna, where she served as Artistic and Executive Director for twelve years. Haddad answered questions about where “New Arab American Theater Works” has been, and where it’s going.
Your website says “since 1995.” What happened in 1995, what’s changed, and what’s new with “New Arab American Theater Works” in 2016?
I try my best to separate my school life and my arts life for self preservation sake, if nothing else. I feel very vulnerable as a teacher. Many of my fears around that came out in my play ZAFIRA. She was a teacher who ended up in the “Arab and Muslim Internment Camps.” She was sent up the river by her students and school because of her political views and activism. That is my greatest fear, and I try very hard to separate those two lives for that reason. I have a bit of a history of something like that happening in my last job. Some students complained that I was teaching about Islam, Palestine, etc… and I ended up losing my job when they did budget cuts. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was cut after that incident. I was advised by the assistant principal at the time not to mention or talk about my background. Some parents accused me of trying to convert their kids to Islam. I tried to explain to everyone that I am not even Muslim. I don’t think they believed me. And that was when Bill Clinton was president! Imagine what would happen now?