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The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) presents Al Raheel | Departure, a poetic, contemporary theater performance by award winning director Joanna Settle and NYUAD Alumni and ADMAF Creativity Award winner Reem Almenhali that examines identity, womanhood, and the future. The Arts Center will host four performances of the show from September 29 to October 1 at 7:30pm and on Sunday, October 2 at 3pm, each followed by a Q&A with the artists.

The daring and innovative reinvestigation of the 2020 production weaves poetry with large-scale imagery in both English and Arabic. Al Raheel is centered around The Art Center’s Season Eight theme ‘Stories’and shares uniquely Emirati tales that also have universal appeal by bringing often private narratives to a public space.

NYUAD Alumni and ADMAF Creativity Award winner Reem Almenhali said, “Al Raheel | Departure is a dynamic piece. When I wrote its scenes, I envisioned the script as pages that absorb the world and turn into strings of narratives that intertwine and come together to create living images of a young woman’s reality in the UAE. Al Raheel | Departure looks at how we position ourselves in between languages, cultures, times, and different phases of growth.”

Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs and Social Impact; Arts Professor of Theater Joanna Settle added, “It’s a gift to return to this project. Al Raheel performed as one of the last theatrical offerings at The Arts Center before the world of live performance shuttered during the pandemic, and it is the first show I’m rehearsing as the world reopens. In this performance we are bringing fresh perspectives, new concerns, and a deepened commitment to each other. This work is built with so much love and curiosity – it’s a thrill to develop it further.”


Co-commissioned by The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and Cultural Foundation and presented with official support from the US Mission to the UAE, the performance was developed collaboratively from a series of poems written in response to women persisting and developing across childhood, womanhood, and aging. Since its world premiere in 2020, the creative team and company have returned to reexamine the work, in light of the lives lived in the intervening years.

Post-show Q&A moderators will include Emirati poet, filmmaker, and visual artist Nujoom AlGhanem, Alserkal Avenue Foundation Director and curator Nada Raza, and additional moderators to be announced.

Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYUAD Bill Bragin said: “When we first commissioned Al Raheel, using a new approach Joanna Settle referred to as “urgent producing”’ it gave us a unique opportunity to support the creation of a new’work of contemporary Emirati theater of a kind that none of us had seen before. Its specific combination of poetic language in Arabic and English reflecting how people live here, evocative images, and personal exploration of womanhood truly touched audiences of all backgrounds. We realized at the time that the piece deserved a chance to be experienced by many more audience members, and we’re thrilled to have a chance to bring it back in a new iteration and continue the artistic conversations it started.”

Each performance will be followed by a Q&A moderated by a prominent member of the community, the moderators are:

  • September 29: Sabyn Jillani, Senior Lecturer of Writing and Literature & Creative Writing at NYU Abu Dhabi
  • September 30: Nada Raza, Director of Alserkal Arts Foundation | Curator | Researcher
  • October 1: Nujoom Alghanem, Poet | Artist | Film Director
  • October 2: Marië Westermann, Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi | Educator | Art Historian
  • To keep informed of additional programs, please visit The Arts Center website.

Event:  Al Raheel | Departure by Reem Almenhali and Joanna Settle

Details: Award winning director Joanna Settle and NYUAD Alumni Reem Almenhali present a reinvestigation of the 2020 theater production that explores the depth and diversity of life as an Emirati woman. Weaving rich Arabic and English language poetry with a backdrop of images and movement, Al Raheel | Departure explores womanhood and the future. It reflects on a body that stays while a world changes.

Date: September 29 to October 1 at 7:30pm and October 2 at 3pm

Venue: The Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Visit here for booking details

Source: Hanover 

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