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Washington, D.C.— As part of the second Women’s Voices Theater Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company presents the world-premiere production of Noura, a new play written by award-winning playwright and performer Heather Raffo (Nine Parts of Desire). Directed by Joanna Settle and featuring Raffo in the titular role, the play will run at the Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW) February 6–March 11, 2018.

Noura challenges our notions of modern marriage and motherhood through a portrait of Iraqi immigrants living in New York. As Noura and her husband Tareq prepare to celebrate their first Christmas in America, she looks forward to welcoming a special guest—Maryam, a young Iraqi refugee.  But the girl’s arrival upends the family, forcing them to confront where they are, where they’ve been and who they have become.

 “Through two very different generations of women, Noura explores an acutely relevant awakening of female identity as characters fight to either remake themselves or find themselves,”  says Raffo.  

 The play came out of three years of workshops with Arab American women living in New York City, where Heather explored the themes of identity and belonging through her personal narrative initiative titled Places of Pilgrimage. In response to the participants’ many harrowing stories of leaving home, she decided to share A Doll’s House. “Talking about Ibsen’s play gave us an opportunity to discuss the contemporary challenge of being a modern woman who must bridge ties to both America and the Middle East,” Raffo says.

Raffo’s workshop Noura was further developed at Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics with refugee and Middle East policy experts. Further workshops were supported by McCarter Theatre, Epic Theatre Ensemble and our nation’s first Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. After receiving its world premiere with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Noura will travel to the Middle East for production in Abu Dhabi.

 Noura was commissioned through a grant from the Beech Street Foundation and is sponsored by Share Fund. Additional support provided by Dr. Paul and Mrs. Rose Carter. Restaurant Partner: Dirty Habit.


Heather Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress whose work has been seen Off-Broadway, off West End, in regional theatre and in film. She is the author and solo performer of the play 9 Parts of Desire (Lucille Lortel Award, Susan Smith Blackburn commendation, Drama League, OCC, Helen Hayes nominations), which the New Yorker called “an example of how art can remake the world.”  The play ran Off-Broadway for nine months and has played across the United States and internationally for over a decade, with current productions in Greece, Hungary and India. Heather’s newest play, Noura, just won Williamstown Theatre Festival’s prestigious Weissberger Award.

Recently, her libretto for the opera Fallujah was heard as part of Kennedy Center’s International Theater Festival. It then received its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in March of 2016 and opened at New York City Opera later that year.  A film was made of the opera, as well as a documentary titled Fallujah: Art, Healing and PTSD.

Raffo is the recipient of multiple grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use theatre as a means of bridge-building between her Eastern and Western cultures. She continues to grow her storytelling workshop, Places of Pilgrimage, taking it to universities and community centers both in America and the Middle East. Clips of participants’ work from her New York workshop have been shared online through the organizations Bridges of Understanding and Refugees Deeply, as a means to connect the stories of young Middle Eastern women with their peers globally. Raffo continues her focus on cross-cultural work by speaking at universities across America and internationally. Her work has taken her from classrooms in Tampa to the U.S. Islamic World Forum in Qatar, and from the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati to the Rumi Festival in Oslo. She is a proud member of Epic Theatre Ensemble’s Artistic Advisory Council and prizes her decade long collaboration with Georgetown’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. WEB: Facebook: Heather Raffo; Twitter: @heatherraffo;



Joanna Settle recently directed the world premiere of Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s musical The Total Bent in a twice-extended run at New York’s Public Theater. Other Public Theater credits include, Winter Miller’s In Darfur and the Finale of Suzan-Lori Park’s 365 Plays/365 Days. She also directed the world premiere of Heather Raffo’s celebrated Nine Parts of Desire at Manhattan Ensemble Theater, and for subsequent productions at theaters and art museums around the U.S.

Settle served as the Artistic Director of Chicago’s Division 13 Productions from 1998 to 2004 and directed and adapted 15 of D13’s 17 projects, including BLOOD LINE: The Oedipus/Antigone Story, two plays by Sophocles, Macbett by Ionesco, and several Samuel Beckett shorts including Cascando and Play.  She served as Artistic Director of Shakespeare on the Sound 2009 to 2012, where she directed free outdoor Shakespeare productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet for audiences of up to 2,000 people per night.

Settle completed her graduate studies at The Juilliard School and holds a BA in Theater Directing and Design from Hampshire College. She has taught and guest directed at Bard College, Williams College, Juilliard, Cornell, Stanford University’s PhD Program, and served as Director of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts from 2014 to 2016. She is currently Associate Arts Professor of Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi.

2018 premieres include Noura by Heather Raffo, Lashed but Not Leashed by Masha Graham Cracker for Under The Radar Festival at the Public Theater and a new opera with Opera Philadelphia set to premiere September 2018.


Heather Raffo (Noura) will be joined by:

Dahlia Azama (Maryam) NEW YORK: Off-Broadway: Women’s Project Theater: Veil’d (Dima); The Play Company: I Call My Brothers (Valeria/Tyra). INTERNATIONAL: American University in Cairo (Egypt): The School for Wives, Three Sisters, The Taming of the Shrew. TRAINING: The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London): MA in Acting; The American University in Cairo (Egypt): BA in Theatre.

Gabriel Brumberg (Yazen/Alex) REGIONAL: Pallas Theatre Collective: Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins (dir. Clare Shaffer); Noura (New York workshop, dir. Ron Russell); Noura (D.C. workshop, dir. Derek Goldman). OTHER: NU Sass Productions: Reading of Blue Skies over Pluto; Voice recording: Theater J: Falling Out of Time. TRAINING: Edmund Burke School, Camp Arena Stage.

 Matthew David (Rafa’a) NEW YORK: East 13th Street Theatre: Glamping. REGIONAL: Purple Rose Theatre Company: A Streetcar Named Desire (Stanley), Boeing Boeing (Robert), A Stone Carver (Raff), Escanaba in Da’ Moonlight, Best of Friends, Apartment 3A, Corktown, Bleeding Red, Consider the Oyster, Growing Pretty, White Buffalo; Jewish Ensemble Theatre: American Buffalo (Teach), Disgraced (Amir); Vertigo Productions: Nuts; Flint City Theatre: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Much Ado About Nothing. TRAINING: University of Michigan: BFA in Theater.

Nabil Elouahabi (Tariq/Tim) is currently starring as Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiator Hassan Asfour in Oslo at the Harold Pinter Theatre. His other theatre credits include: London: Almeida Theatre: Oil, alongside Anne-Marie Duff; Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre: A Tale of Two Cities; National Theatre: Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State; Royal Court Theatre: Fireworks; Arcola Theatre: I Call My Brothers, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes; Crucible (Sheffield): Love Your Soldiers; Tricycle Theatre / U.S. Tour: Crossing Jerusalem, The Great Game–Afghanistan. TELEVISION: Deep State, The Night Of, The Missing, 24: Live Another Day, Top Boy, Mad Dogs, Generation Kill, The Path To 9/11 and EastEnders. Film credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Charlie Wilson’s War, In This World, Ali G Indahouse, The Sum of All Fears.



Director Joanna Settle will be joined by Scenic Designer; Andrew Lieberman, Costume Designer;Tilly Grimes, Lighting Designer; Masha Tsimring; Sound Designer, Obadiah Eaves; Laura Stanczyk, CSA as Casting Director; Carter C. Wooddell, Resident Casting Director; Voice & Text Coach, Lisa Beley; Assistant Director, Charlie Marie McGrath; Production Stage Manager, Jess Slocum; Assistant Stage Manager, Christopher Michael Borg;  Production Assistant, Marko Palumbo; Stage Management Fellow, Yiwen Wu; Assistant Lighting Designer, [TBD], Young Performer Supervisor, [TBD]


Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) is the nation’s leading premier classical theatre company. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible to audiences in and around the nation’s capital.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Executive Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative productions inspire dialogue that connects classic works to the modern human experience. The Company focuses on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced in order to preserve and promote classic theatre—ambitious, enduring plays with universal themes—for all audiences.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and adult acting classes to accessible community programming like play-relevant discussion series and the Free for All. For the past 25 years the Free For All program has offered an annual remount of a popular production completely free of charge to all audience members.

Located in downtown Washington, D.C., STC performs in two theatres, the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre and the 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall. In addition to STC productions appearing year-round, these spaces also accommodate presentations from outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. The Company has been a fixture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood since 1992.

About the Women’s Voices Theater Festival

The Women’s Voices Theater Festival is dedicated to highlighting the scope of plays being written by women and the range of professional theater being produced in the nation’s capital region. The Festival’s debut in 2015 featured world premiere plays by female playwrights on stages across Washington, D.C. and was heralded as a landmark in striving for gender parity in American theater. Led by seven of Washington’s largest theaters—Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company—the Festival leverages collaboration among regional theater producers to create a platform for the nation’s most talented and innovative female and female-identifying playwrights and their newest plays.

Presenters in the 2018 Festival include 4615 Theatre Company, Alliance for New Music-Theatre, Ally Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Brave Spirits Theatre, Convergence Theatre, dog & pony dc, Folger Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Mosaic Theater Company, Nu Sass Productions, Olney Theatre Center, Pointless Theatre Co., Rainbow Theatre Project, Rapid Lemon Productions, Rep Stage, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Spooky Action Theater, Strand Theatre, Studio Theatre, Taffety Punk Theatre Company, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Allison Janney is the Honorary Chair of the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival.

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