"Kal and Dija Save The World" by Denmo Ibrahim play cover.

ADA, Ohio - Ohio Northern University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts will shine a light on diversity within our own borders by highlighting Arab American Theatre during the 15th International Play Festival. The festival will present a reading and conversation about Denmo Ibrahim's new play, Kal and Dija Save the World. The reading represents the culmination of a workshop exploration of this new, ensemble-based play that examines third-culture kids, Middle Eastern identity and what it means to be an American.

The readings will be held Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m. in the Stambaugh Studio Theatre at the Freed Center for the Performing Arts. Both presentations will be followed by a talkback with the director, Anna Bahow, and the playwright, Denmo Ibrahim. 

Tickets for the readings can be purchased at the Freed Center Box Office at 419-772-1900 or online at www.FreedCenter.com

“The International Play Festival: The Middle East” is spearheaded by Joan Robbins, DFA, associate professor of theatre, who is the curator and dramaturg for the festival. The playwright, Denmo Ibrahim, is an actor, playwright and educator based in both San Francisco, California, and Brooklyn, New York.  Her nine plays each immerse audiences in new and creative ways. Anna Bahow is serving as the play festival director. Bahow is passionate about diversity, creating space for collaboration and the development of new works. She has a strong background in visual arts and design, and uses that foundation to inform her theatrical experiences.

Cast members for the play are senior Laura Downey (Huntsville, Ohio); juniors Michael Gallagher (Strongsville, Ohio) and Isabelle Rowe (Milford, Ohio); and freshmen Zavier Alterio (Mansfield, Ohio), Kianna Gant (Sandusky, Ohio), Jessica Sanders (Punta Gorda, Florida) and Hailey Shock (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Ibrahim and Bahow will conduct a two-week residency to rehearse the play and guide the cast of seven ONU students in an exploration of cultural identity. Issues of community, belonging, and specifically, issues that Arab American communities face will be the focus. Ibrahim’s play will be the foundation for this intercultural learning experience.

For the purposes of cultural research and increased awareness, additional components to this festival experience include:

  • Film Screening, Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the ONU Bear Cave: Join playwright Jamil Khoury for this free, public screening and discussion of Obstacle Course, a video play which explores reactions to a proposed Islamic Community Center on the site of a beloved landmark. 
  • In collaboration with University Chaplain David MacDonald and Interfaith Director Rebecca MacDonald, the company will engage in an interfaith conversation hour with representatives from a variety of faiths in the campus community to discuss issues of belonging, inclusion and community.
  • The company will spend a day in Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest population of Arab Americans in the country. Their trip will include a mosque tour, guided tour of the National Arab American Museum, visit to an Arab American Catholic church and tasting of Middle Eastern cuisine. 
  • Guest artists will be featured speakers at the theatre arts symposium and sociology classes.

Other ONU staff members on the International Play Festival production staff include Brian Sage as producer; Kathleen E. DeVault, production designer and manager; Brian Phillips, technical director; Ameera Ansari, costume shop manager and Elynmarie Kazle, stage management mentor. 

ONU students on the production staff are Katie Altman (Cincinnati, Ohio) as stage manager and Hailey Brooke Elswick (Woodstock, Georgia), production assistant. 

For more information about the International Play Festival or other events in the Freed Center's 2022-2023 Season, visit  www.FreedCenter.com or call the Box Office at 419-772-1900 to receive a season brochure.