On Thursday July 16 at 6 pm PT, a program entitled Finding Truths and Creating Art in Exile features Award-winning playwrights Iranian-American Sholeh Wolpé and Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour. Soleimanpour’s most recent play Nassim will be performed in The Broad Stage 2020/21 season in April 2021. They are joined by acclaimed guests, award-winning poet and playwright Nathalie Handal, award-winning Armenian poet Lory Bedikian, and more, for readings and conversations on bridging the gap between perceptions and reality of cultural norms.
The artists will explore the lives they live—and the lives that people in the West imagine for them. Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting won the 2010 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. Her poems have been published in the Connecticut Review, Portland Review, Poetry International, Poet Lore and Heliotrope among other journals and have been included in Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets. Poets & Writers chose her work as a finalist for the 2010 California Writers Exchange Award.
Nathalie Handal is the editor of the groundbreaking classic The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, and named one of the top 10 Feminist Books by The Guardian; and co-editor of the W.W. Norton landmark anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, both Academy of American Poets bestsellers.
An independent multidisciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran, Nassim Soleimanpour’s plays have been translated into 20 languages. Best known for White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award.
Poet, writer and literary translator, Sholeh Wolpé’s performances, solo or in collaboration with musicians and artists, have been hailed by audiences as mesmerizing. She is the recipient of a 2014 PEN Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, as well as artist fellowship and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia and Switzerland. Her plays have been finalists and semifinalists at Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Centenary Stage Women Playwrights, and Ashland New Plays Festival.
Following Finding Truths, Red Hen Press Poetry Hour continues with readings and discussion about environmental justice and climate change on August 27, and a deep dive into feminism in September. The Red Hen Press Poetry Hour has included readings from California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Richard Blanco, who was selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, and 2019 NAACP Image Poetry Awards nominee Allison Joseph, two-time winner of the PEN Literary Award for Children’s Literature.
At livestream time, the broadcast is found on The Broad Stage website at thebroadstage.org/athome and on Facebook at facebook.com/thebroadstage. Each program is archived following the live stream for on-demand viewing.
More about Bedikian, Handal, Soleimanpour, and Wolpé.
Lory Bedikian received her BA from UCLA with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Poetry. During her time at UCLA, she was twice nominated for the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize in Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she received the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for
Poetry. Her manuscript has been selected several times as a finalist in both the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition and in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition. She has received grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund and from AFFMA: Arpa Film Foundation for Music & Art. She currently teaches poetry workshops in Los Angeles.
Nathalie Handal was raised in Latin America, France and the Middle East, and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Poet, playwright, nonfiction and literary travel writer, Claire Messud writes, she “illuminates the luxuriance and longing of deracination—a contemporary Orpheus.” Her recently published collections include Life in a Country Album (2019 US / 2020 UK), which Tracy K, Smith praises as “Absolutely gorgeous” and a finalist for the Palestine Book Award and the Foreword Indies Book Award; the flash collection The Republics, lauded as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and the Arab American Book Award; the bestselling bilingual collection La estrella invisible / The Invisible Star; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award, which The New York Times writes is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).” Handal has worked on over twenty theatrical productions either as a playwright, director or producer. Author of eight plays, her most recent works have been produced at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bush Theatre and Westminster Abbey in London.
Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, The Irish Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, on PBS and NPR, among others. In 2017, she was included as one of the 100 Outstanding Contributors to their Fields exhibition, inaugurated in the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, Pen International Croatia Fellow, Centro Andaluz de las Letras Fellow, Fondazione di Venezia Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, among other honors. Her work has been translated into over 15 languages. She is a professor at Columbia University, and a Visiting Writer at the American University of Rome. She writes the literary travel column The City and the Writer for Words without Borders.
2017 saw the premiere of Nassim Soleimanpour’s latest play, the eponymously titled NASSIM which features the playwright himself on stage. Co-produced by the Bush Theatre in London, the play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to great acclaim, winning the prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award. The New York Times said that NASSIM “speaks, at times eloquently, of trying to live and work in a place and with a language not your own.”
By the time Soleimanpour was permitted to travel for the first time in early 2013, his play White Rabbit Red
Rabbit had been performed over 1000 times in 20 languages. Nassim’s second play Blind Hamlet for the London based Actors Touring Company premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has since toured extensively around the UK and was received well in Bucharest and Copenhagen. His third play BLANK premiered in November 2015 at Dancing on the Edge Festival in Amsterdam and Utrecht followed by performances at Radar Festival in London.
In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter said, “Soleimanpour's plays have never been performed in Farsi in his native country because of governmental repression. The situation particularly distresses him because his mother, who still lives in Iran, has never heard or seen one of her son's plays performed in her language.”
Soleimanpour has facilitated workshops and panels in different countries including World Theatre Festival
(Brisbane), Tolhuistuin (Amsterdam), SESC Vila Mariana (Sao Paulo), Schauspielhaus (Vienna), DPAC (Kuala
Lampur), Theatertreffen (Berlin), British Council (London), Asia House (London) and University of Bremen (Germany). Soleimanpour lives in Berlin with his wife Shirin and dog Echo, and tours the world with NASSIM while working on new material for the stage.
Sholeh Wolpé’s literary work includes five collections of poetry, several plays, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Her most recent publications include The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Co), Cómo escribir una canción de amor (Olifante Ediciones de Poesia, Spain), and Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths (University of Arkansas Press.) Her play, an adaptation of The Conference of the Birds, premiered at Ubuntu Theatre Project in Oakland, California in 2019, and her new play Brothers at the Canadian Border is part of Towne Street Theatre festival in Hollywood in 2020.
Wolpé has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians at Quincy Jones Presents series at The Broad Stage, Skirball Cultural Center Series, Los Angeles Aloud, LA County Museum of Art Ahmanson stage, Singapore Literature Festival, UNSW School of Arts and Media theater, and other venues. She taught poetry and literary translation at UCLA — where she was the inaugural Writer-in-Residence in 2018— as well as University of Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in the United States. Presently she is the Author-inResidence at University of California, Irvine. She travels internationally as a performing poet, writer and public speaker. She has lived in Iran, Trinidad and the UK, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, sociologist Edward Telles.
Sandra Tsing Loh is the author of six books, including The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones (2014, W.W. Norton), which was selected as one of The New York Times’ 100 Most Notable
Books. It is based on her piece on menopause in The Best American Essays 2012, originally published in The Atlantic. The Madwoman in the Volvo inspired Sandra's hit play of the same name, as well as her stand-up show, The B***h Is Back: An All-Too Intimate Conversation, which ran at The Broad Stage in 2015. Her new book The Madwoman and the Roomba: My Year of Domestic Mayhem will be published by W.W. Norton in June 2020.
Red Hen Press, one of the few literary presses in the Los Angeles area, was founded in 1994 by Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull with the intention of keeping creative literature alive. Our focus as a literary press is to publish poetry, literary fiction, and nonfiction. Red Hen Press is committed to publishing work of literary excellence, supporting diversity, and promoting literacy in our local schools. We seek a community of readers and writers who are actively engaged in the essential human practice known as literature.
Red Hen Press offers several literary awards each year, including the Benjamin Saltman Award. The winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award receives a cash prize in addition to publication of the winning poetry collection. Past judges include: Claudia Rankine, Robin Becker, Wanda Coleman, B.H. Fairchild, Nick Flynn, Eloise Klein Healy, David St. John, Dorianne Laux, Thomas Lux, Philip Levine, Alicia Ostriker, James Ragan,
Peggy Shumaker, and Quincy Troupe. Other awards offered include the Red Hen Press Short Fiction Award, Women’s Prose Prize, Quill (Queer) Prose Award, Nonfiction Award, and Novella Award. Red Hen Press is also committed to promoting literacy in the community. Beyond developing an appreciation of literature, we believe it is essential to our society to promote a readership that remains open and critically engaged in reading a variety of well-written, thought-provoking work. Our Writing in the Schools program brings writers into schools to run writing workshops and to read and discuss their work—promoting both literacy and creative expression among young people. We organize readings in schools, universities, libraries, and literary organizations. We donate books to a variety of organizations, including schools and facilities that educate at-risk youth.
The Broad Stage gathers artists, thinkers and audiences to celebrate our shared humanity and expand the role the arts play in the vitality of our diverse community. As a presenter and producer of performing arts affiliated with Santa Monica College, The Broad Stage brings a bold array of renowned local, national and international artists across dance, theatre, humanities, classical, jazz and popular music, to the Westside of Los Angeles each year. In addition, our immersive Education & Community programs serve thousands of schoolchildren and families, and provide ongoing opportunities for SMC students and faculty to directly engage with the art and artists.
The Broad Stage primarily utilizes the state-of-the-art venues at Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center including The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage main stage, The Edye Second Space and The East Wing, and also increasingly brings a variety of site-specific work and community programs to spaces across the Westside. The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage main stage is unlike any performance space in the country; it is sublimely intimate with just over 500 seats yet strikingly grand in its feel, boasting one of the city’s largest proscenium stages. The 100-seat black box Edye Second Space and the versatile East Wing are adaptable performing spaces allowing for a wide variety of artists and experiences.