The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi


Nearly 20 years ago, Yussef El Guindi searched the web for theater companies that might be interested in Arab American themes. The last thing he expected was to find a company devoted to the whole Middle East. I'm thrilled that he found Golden Thread Productions and trusted us with his work. His plays confirmed what until then I had only suspected: there is a Middle Eastern American voice and it needs to be heard. In the years that followed, Yussef's plays came to define both the Arab American experience particularly post-9/11, and much of Golden Thread's aesthetic and artistic choices. He is the most produced playwright at Golden Thread. I directed his first play at Golden Thread; the year was 2000. Scenic Routes told the story of a young Arab American man suspected of planting a bomb in New York. The narrative was distinguished by the central character's complex and paralyzing struggle with his own identity and his internalized prejudice. While he intellectually exposed and debased the racism of those around him, emotionally, he was eaten alive by those very same stereotypes. He was able to see himself as "they" did; and he was much more brutal in judging himself than they were. This is a repeating theme in many of Yussef's early plays: Back of the Throat, Language Rooms, and Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat. I had the pleasure of directing Our Enemies in 2016, as part of Golden Thread's 20th Anniversary Season. The reunion brought back precious memories. It is unlikely that Golden Thread would have achieved so much without Yussef's auspicious discovery all those years ago. Middle Eastern American theater owes much to his talent, courage, and tenacity. I am forever grateful!

Torange Yeghiazarian
Founding Artistic Director
Golden Thread Productions
San Francisco, CA

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