Fulbright alumna from Lebanon, Sahar Assaf, pictured above in blue with AMIDEAST staff, was recently profiled by the Middle East Institute (MEI) spoke at their special event in Washington, DC to discuss her latest theatrical production on sex trafficking of Syrian women in Beirut. AMIDEAST staff had a chance to attend and catch up with Sahar, and you can watch the full video of her talk as well!
MEI explains on their website, where you can also find the full event recording:
In March 2016, a police raid in Beirut rescued seventy-five Syrian refugee women from what became known as the largest sex trafficking network in the history of Lebanon. The story gained huge media attention as the women told horrifying stories about their abuse, but soon faded from headlines.
In response, American University of Beirut theater professor Sahar Assaf produced “No Demand No Supply: A Re-reading of Lebanon’s 2016 Sex Trafficking Scandal," a performance aimed at giving voice to the stories of the trafficked women. After several successful performances in Beirut and Athens, the play was invited to perform at the Between the Seas festival in New York on May 19, 2019. The play will also feature at the Shubbak festival in London in July 2019.
MEI's arts and culture program is delighted to host Sahar Assaf in conversation with Lyne Sneige, director of MEI's Arts and Culture program, about the development and impact of her play, as well as the growing role of theater in Lebanon and the region in addressing important socio-political issues.
Actress; assistant professor of theatre, American University of Beirut
Sahar Assaf is an actress and stage director and an assistant professor of theatre at the American University of Beirut. She recently co-established the AUB Theatre Initiative with playwright and English professor Robert Myers under which she translated and directed Garcia-Lorca’s Blood Wedding as a site-specific promenade performance and co-translated, co-directed and starred in Shakespeare’s King Lear at Al Madina Theater in Beirut, the first production of Shakespeare in Lebanese Arabic colloquial. She also recently conceived and directed Meen El Felten, a documentary play on rape and sexual assault in Lebanon as part of Abaad MENA campaign of 2018 and No Demand No Supply, a documentary play about sex trafficking in Lebanon in collaboration with Kafa NGO. Her credits as a director include Ab: Beit Byout (an adaptation of Tracy Letts’ August Osage County), Saadallah Wannous’ The Rape and Rituals of Signs and Transformations, Issam Mahfouz’s The Dictator, Watch Your Step, a site-specific performance about the Lebanese civil war and Ana Amel Ana Amela, a devised documentary theatre about the experience of janitors at AUB. Assaf is a member of Lincoln Center Director’s Lab in NYC (2014), a member of Director's Lab North in Toronto (2017), co-founder and artistic director of Directors Lab Mediterranean (2019) and a Fulbright alumnus with an MA in Theatre Studies from Central Washington University (2011).