michal najjarA series of events under the title “New Frontiers: Innovations in the Middle East” investigate what is “new” in the cultural scene in the Middle East, in the context of recent political changes in the region:

The dissolution of Arab States. The rise of a murderous ISIS state. The collapse of Israeli/Palestinian Negotiations. The third Israel/ Gaza War. Hatred and incitement. In the midst of this breakdown, are there any hidden breakthroughs?

The events are intended to allow the audience to “hear from social entrepreneurs across the Middle East and the US about current transformations on the themes of education, the arts, technology, civil society and governance.”

You can see full recordings of the various events here.

One of the events I found most interesting is the panel on Arab American Playwrights, featuring Jamil Khoury, Heather Raffo and Nathalie Handal. The panel focuses on the power of theatre – so Khoury talks about theatre “as catharsis and also as a vehicle, a mechanism for social change” and Raffo says that theatre “lifts up the human narrative” and talks about art as cultural diplomacy.

I recently reviewed Michael Malek Najjar’s book Arab American Drama, Film and Performance: A Critical Study, 1908 to the Present – you can read the review here. 

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