Myriad Voices: A Cross-Cultural Performance Festival


Two years of interdisciplinary global programming and new work development will expand awareness and understanding of Muslim societies.

Washington, D.C. —The Davis Performing Arts Center and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, a joint initiative between the Theater and Performance Studies Program and the School of Foreign Service, are pleased to announce that they will present MYRIAD VOICES: A CROSS-CULTURAL PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL. This series of performances from leading artists around the world will be accompanied by convenings, public forums, interdisciplinary courses, and the creation of new work. Georgetown is one of six campuses nationwide to receive a competitive grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. This two-year Festival is part of the Building Bridges Campus Community Engagement Program – Expanding Awareness and Understanding about Muslim Societies through the Performing Arts.

The Festival will officially open with the historic U.S. premiere of Syria: The Trojan Women, and will feature an international group of core artists, including Shahid Nadeem (Founder/Director, Ajoka Theatre, Lahore); Heather Raffo, (Iraqi-American playwright and performer); Ali Mahdi (Founding Director, Al-Buggaa Theatre, Sudan; UNESCO Artist for Peace), Joanna Sherman (Artistic Director, Bond Street Theatre) and Jamil Khoury (Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising, Chicago), whose work engages with Syria, the Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, the U.S., and more.

Scott Stoner, Director of Programs and Resources at APAP, says “We believe the existing collaboration between the Davis Performing Arts Center, the Theater and Performance Studies Program, and the School of Foreign Service provides an extraordinary platform upon which to achieve the basic goals of the Building Bridges grants program – to increase knowledge and deepen understanding about Muslim societies through the lens of arts and culture.”

Professor Derek Goldman, Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, notes, “We are deeply honored to be recipients of this Building Bridges grant, which enables us to build upon our sustained commitment to integrating cutting-edge global performance and urgent policy conversations, while addressing the compelling need to foster understanding about the diversity and complexity of Muslim Societies. Working with an extraordinary group of core artists who are collaborating to shape the critical questions and agenda for this work, we look forward to two years filled with both transformative experiences for audiences, and impactful conversations for students, policymakers, scholars, artists, and the wider public. “

The project seeks to expand the Georgetown and D.C. communities’ knowledge and experience of Muslims – their faith, history, politics, and culture, to convey the diversity of Muslim populations, and to expose and call into question prevalent stereotypes. The Festival will engage students and audiences in compelling performances, involve students directly in creating new works in dialogue with leading artists from around the world, and make these performances a springboard for interdisciplinary dialogue that bridges performance, politics, and society.

Cynthia Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics says, “Artists hold up a mirror to society and politics, and so provide different perspectives from the political and policy focus that dominates Washington. Artists challenge conventional thinking. Our visiting artists and collaborative projects involving the Georgetown community will shed new light on the people of Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, the Sudan, among other Muslim majority countries, and will provoke stimulating conversations around challenging issues.”

A Reception and Short Program will be held to celebrate and announce the launch of MYRIAD VOICES on Monday, March 24th from 5:00 p.m.-7pm in historic Riggs Library in Healy Hall on Georgetown’s campus. The event will feature presentations from the project’s Core Artists and Lab co-directors, Professors Derek Goldman and Cynthia Schneider, along with student performances of excerpts from the narratives of Syrian Refugees.

The anchoring events of the MYRIAD VOICES Festival are:

Syria: The Trojan Women
Re-interpreted by a group of women forced to flee their homes in Syria who now live as refugees in Amman, Trojan Women weaves the individual experiences of these women in a 21st-century conflict into Euripides’ 2500 year-old text. After premiering in December 2013 in Amman, Jordan to international acclaim, Georgetown is honored to host these extraordinary women, under the direction of leading Syrian director Omar Abu Saada, in their first North American performances.

Amrika Chalo by Shahid Nadeem
Written and directed by Pakistan’s leading theater artist Shahid Nadeem from Lahore’s Ajoka Theatre, this hilarious send-up of U.S.-Pakistani relations set in an American consulate in Pakistan explodes stereotypes through satire. This workshop production will feature Pakistani artists from Ajoka Theatre as well as guest US professionals and advanced students.

Generation (WH)Y: Global Voices On Stage
This festival of innovative multi-media performances is the result of year-long dialogue and encounters between Georgetown students and youth from Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq, among other countries. Using intimate live performances as well as web-based technology and social media platforms, the festival will, under the direction of faculty and the projects’ core artists, celebrate the perspectives, hopes, and stories of hundreds of young people from around the world.

New Work by Heather Raffo
A new work by award-winning Iraqi-American playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire) examining recent sectarian and cultural divisions in the wake of the Iraq war and Arab Spring. Raffo will research where common ground can be found, presently and historically and develop a new work at Georgetown with professional collaborators, scholars, policy makers, faculty and students.

Accompanying the performances will be public forums, discussions, and convenings which integrate policy and performance. The project has an active steering committee made up of dozens of leading policy experts, scholars, clergy, artists, and community leaders.


Opened in November 2005 in the center of Georgetown University’s campus as the only building in Georgetown history designed specifically for arts education, the Davis Performing Arts Center is the administrative home to the Department of Performing Arts and academic home to the Theater and Performance Studies Program, featuring two theatre spaces: the proscenium Gonda Theatre and the black box Devine Studio Theatre. The Davis Center season unfolds in intimate dialogue with the Theater and Performance Studies Program’s curricular offerings, and each year hosts a thematically linked home season of cutting-edge theater productions which features new works and world premiere adaptations, bold interpretations of classics, and important contemporary plays and musicals (recent seasons include A Season of War and Peace, Nature’s Mirror: A Season of Good and Evil, A Season Named Desire, Going Mad, Hidden Histories, and Classics Re-visioned). In addition to mainstage theater productions, the Department sponsors numerous music and dance performances, workshops, readings, master classes, symposia, and guest lectures. The Davis Center also regularly hosts leading artists from around the world for productions, workshops, and residencies tied to our academic mission, and special events such as a major Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival which featured more than 30 events and productions and drew audiences of more than 5,000 people. Recent highlights include Belarus Free Theater; Ping Chong & Company; Dah Theater from Belgrade; Sojourn Theater; Liz Lerman Dance Exchange; Pig Iron Theatre Company, and others. The Davis Center is a hub for interdisciplinary exchange on and off campus, as well as with the wider D.C. community, through active partnerships with numerous leading organizations such as Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Embassies, and others.

The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University is a joint initiative of the Theater and Performance Studies Program and the School of Foreign Service. Led by Professors Derek Goldman and Cynthia P. Schneider the Lab leverages Georgetown University’s distinctive strengths in international relations and theatrical performance, developing new interdisciplinary approaches to fostering cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, and to advancing peace and social justice through performance. In addition, the Lab is a generative creative space to foster collaborative artistic projects that realize these goals. Finally, the Lab is a hub and a resource center that, in actual and virtual spaces, brings together an expansive global network of artists, policymakers, scholars, cultural organizations, embassies, faculty, and students. The Lab grows directly out of and builds upon Georgetown’s singular strengths in the areas of theatrical performance and international politics. In June of 2012, Professors Derek Goldman and Cynthia Schneider hosted a major International Convening on Global Performance, Civic Imagination and Cultural Diplomacy with 100 leading artists and policymakers from around the world, centered around a historic residency of leading Iraqi theater artists and students from Baghdad University, supported by a “Reflective Engagement in the Public Interest” Grant. Inspired at that convening by the urgent need articulated by those in the field to bring the arts and policy world into deeper interaction, the Lab was officially launched in March, 2013 in conjunction with Anna Deavere Smith’s week-long “On Grace” residency. Other highlights include performances of Athol Fugard’s classic The Island by the Freedom Theatre’s from Jenin, Palestine; the National Theatre of Prague and Lanterna Magika’s production of Vaclav Havel’s Anticodes; collaboration with the Kennedy Center on its World Stages International Theater Festival; and with embassies and leading international artists and DC theatres on the annual Zeitgeist Festival and Symposium. Each of the Lab’s projects have brought leading voices from the policy world (including, on multiple occasions, Former U.S. Secretary Madeleine K. Albright), into public dialogue with Georgetown faculty and students, as well as artists, scholars, journalists, and public audiences.

THE ASSOCIATION OF PERFORMING ARTS PRESENTERS (APAP), based in Washington, D.C., is the national service and advocacy organization dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting field and the professionals who work within it. Our 1,500 national and international members represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performance facilities, nonprofit performing arts centers, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, as well as artist agencies, managers, touring companies, and national consulting practices that serve the field, and a growing roster of self-presenting artists. As a leader in the field, APAP works to effect change through advocacy, professional development, resource sharing and civic engagement. APAP is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization governed by a volunteer board of directors and led by President & CEO Mario Garcia Durham. In addition to presenting the annual APAP|NYC conference – the world’s leading forum and marketplace for the performing arts (January 9-13, 2015) – APAP continues to be the industry’s leading resource, knowledge and networking destination for the advancement of performing arts presenting.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art is an operating foundation funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The mission of DDFIA is to improve the quality of people’s lives through the study, understanding and appreciation of Islamic arts and cultures. Based in New York, the Building Bridges Program is a national grant-making program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

MYRIAD VOICES is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Contact: Laura Mertens