Livestreaming a Conversation: Meet the Cast of Drowning in Cairo by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh

Golden Thread presents a conversation with the cast of Drowning in Cairo by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network on Friday 25 February 2022 at 11 am PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 1 pm CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 2 pm EST (New York, UTC -5).

Executive Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions Sahar Assaf introduces and interviews the cast members of Drowning in Cairo, a world premiere by Adam Ashraf Elsayigh centered on three Arab gay men trying to rebuild their lives after their arrest on the Queen Boat, a gay nightclub docked on the Nile in 2001. Join the conversation to meet Noor Hamdi, Martin Yousif Zebari, and Wiley Naman Strasser and learn about their theater journeys and what excites them about Drowning in Cairo, which is opening on April 11, 2022 at Golden Thread.

Noor Hamdi, who is proudly queer and Syrian-American, is a New York based actor and teacher. He’s appeared in various theater productions Off-Broadway (including “Cartography” by Kaneza Schaal and Chris Myers), locally, regionally, internationally, and, due to the pandemic, on Zoom. In addition, he has appeared in many short films, web series, and pilots, such as “Flunkyball” (dir. Tess Forestieri), “Sherman” (dir. Darine Hotait) and “RPG” (dir. Ryan Wood). It’s incredibly important to Noor that art serves to elevate those who experience it, and his art is guided by that mindset. In particular, Noor seeks to normalize and popularize SWANASA and queer narratives (and especially the intersection of the two) in order to promote a deeper tolerance and understanding of those communities in the current social framework of the world. Website:

Martin Zebari (he/they) is an Iraqi, Assyrian-American actor, playwright and recent Los Angeles transplant. As an actor, he has worked with Goodman Theater (The Winter’s Tale, Yasmina’s Necklace), Steppenwolf Theater Company (Guards at the Taj), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Mary Stuart), Court Theater (The Hard Problem), Atlantic Theater Company (For the Right Reasons), National Queer Theater (Mosque4Mosque), The Angle Project (Unpitied, Lost and Guided), Broken Nose Theater Company (Human Terrain), Milwaukee Repertory Theater (A Christmas Carol, Dreamgirls), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, Failure: A Love Story, The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare) and has appeared on NBC’s Chicago Med. Martin holds a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.

Wiley Naman Strasser is an Armenian-American performer native to the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently he appeared in the Broadway national tour of A Christmas Carol at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, a Tony Award-winning production originally conceived at the Old Vic in London. Other credits include work with Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Aurora Theater Company, Berkeley Rep and world premieres with Detour Dance, Hope Mohr Dance, Magic Theater, Cutting Ball, Crowded Fire, and the Los Angeles Theater Center. He has internationally trained with Teatr Zar and Teatro Yuyachkani, and received his degree from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Sahar Assaf (she/her) is Golden Thread’s Executive Artistic Director. She is a Lebanese stage actor, director, translator, and producer. Before joining Golden Thread, Sahar taught theater at the American University of Beirut where she co-founded the AUB Theater Initiative with playwright and English Professor Robert Myers. Her work at the Theater Initiative includes translating and directing Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding in a site-specific promenade performance and co-translating, co-directing, and starring in Shakespeare’s King Lear at al-Madina Theater in Beirut, the first production of Shakespeare in Lebanese colloquial, The Rape and Rituals of Signs and Transformations by Sa’dallah Wannous, Watch Your Step: Beirut Heritage Walking Tour which was a site-specific devised work on the Lebanese civil war. Sahar is a strong advocate of documentary theater and recently conceived and directed Meen El Felten, an immersive documentary play on sexual assault, and No Demand No Supply, a hybrid documentary play about sex trafficking and prostitution. She is a member of Lincoln Center Director’s Lab (2014), co-founder and artistic director of Directors Lab Mediterranean (2019), and a Fulbright alumnus with an MA in Theater Studies from Central Washington University (2011). Drowning in Cairo is Sahar’s directorial debut at Golden Thread Productions.

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