Lebanese American theater artist Andrea Assaf, founder of Art2Action, is spearheading a two year event series at The University of South Florida under the title THIS Bridge: Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists, a series “that speaks to what it means to be Arabic or Islamic in today’s society — with an emphasis on women who are either or both,” and which “will feature a slew of artists and performers of Middle Eastern descent and from the Middle East.”
The plan came to fruition when Assaf’s organization, Art2Action, became one of only six grantees in the nation awarded a “Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement” grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. The project involves several USF academic departments, student associations and community partners. It recently received a $189,200 grant, funded by a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art…
“THIS Bridge” will explore such issues around repression, misrepresentation and other injustices by collaborating with other academics, developing a new, cross-listed Special Topics course; stage plays and literature by Arab and Muslim writers, and facilitate ongoing workshops for Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim student associations.
Among the planned events:
- Screening of the comedic documentary The Arabs Are Coming! The film follows a band of young Arab/Islamic-American comedians on a tour through the Deep South and conservative towns from Florida to Utah.
- an exhibition featuring Aya Tarek, an Egyptian graffiti artist and muralist
- concert performance of Eleven Reflections on September, written and directed by Assaf, described as “Spoken Word meets Middle Eastern music meets poetry and multimedia.” The elaborate, multi-genre performance reflects on the Arab Americans’ memories of 9/11 and the aftermath of life in a post-9/11 world.