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Theater, Diplomacy Conference to Include Iraqi Faculty and Student Residency

Layla Mohammed

Iraqi actress Layla Mohammed will perform in Arabic the new adaptation of 9 Parts of Desire with English supertitles.

June 8, 2012 – An international conference next week at Georgetown on cultural diplomacy will coincide with the historic residency of Baghdad University faculty and students next week, with free public performances of the first-ever Arabic-language adaptation of the play 9 Parts of Desire.

More than 50 theater artists, policymakers, government officials, activists, cultural leaders, educators, journalists and scholars from around the world will convene at Georgetown June 14-16 for the conference, called Global Performance, Civic Imagination, and Cultural Diplomacy.

Georgetown faculty, students and alumni also be involved in the event, which will be hosted by the university’s Theater and Performance Studies Program at the Davis Performing Arts Center.


Bridging a Gap

“This extraordinary convening is part of our ongoing initiative that seeks to build on Georgetown’s distinctive strengths in international relations and theatrical performance to develop new interdisciplinary strategies to advance peace, social justice, and increased understanding and collaboration across peoples and cultures,” says Derek Goldman, Davis Center artistic director and professor of theater and performance studies. 

The conference will explore how to maximize the potential of theater and performance in the context of international challenges and how to bridge the gap between the worlds of foreign policy and global performance. 

Goldman is leading the conference with Cynthia P. Schneider, Georgetown Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy.

Groundbreaking Work

“The groundbreaking work around the world in theater and performance, tackling issues of conflict, extremism, censorship, and repression, as well as reconciliation and peacemaking usually occurs in a policy vacuum,” says Schneider, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands. “We hope to begin to change that paradigm by bringing leaders in policy and in theater and performance together here at Georgetown University, where students pursue both fields and seek ways to integrate them.”

The nearly month-long residency on campus with Baghdad University faculty and students includes public performances of Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo’s “9 Parts of Desire” June 14 and 16 at the Davis Center.

The performances of “9 Parts of Desire” are free, but ticketed, with reservations available at Seating is limited and tickets for the June 14 performance have already sold out. Free tickets are still available for a June 13 dress rehearsal, however.

Iraqi Women

Adapted and directed by Waleed Shamil, assistant professor at Baghdad University’s Department of Theater Arts, 9 Parts of Desire offers the portrait of a cross-section of Iraqi women – a painter, a radical Communist, doctors, exiles, wives and lovers. 

Iraqi actress Layla Mohammed will perform the new adaptation in Arabic with English supertitles.  

As part of the extended residency, the delegation from Baghdad University will travel with a Georgetown delegation to New York City, where Raffo’s playwill be presented by Hybrid Theatre Works at Alwan for the Arts on June 18. The two groups will also be in Boston June 21-23 for the Theatre Communications Group’s Model the Movement conference as speakers and attendees.

For a complete listing of the conference sessions, click here.


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