The Arab Spring Monologues

Production Manager: Tracy Garratt

Stage Production & Choreography: Daniel Abadie

Produced by: David Fancy & Karrie Porter

Executive Producer: Lisa Matheson


The Arab Spring Monologues is a community-based project offered in conjunction with neXt Company Theatre's production of Khalida, a story about the challenges and realities of life in a new country for an individual of Arab descent.


This theatre event provides an opportunity for 12 members of the Niagara community to work closely with 3 established Arab-Canadian and/or Muslim writers to develop stories of their own, based on their thoughts, feelings and experiences of the Arab Spring.


The 12 community writers involved with this project may be Arab or other-than-Arab, but the emphasis of the project will be on a sensitive exploration of contemporary issues of Arab identity in Canada through the filter of the Arab Spring, as well as wider questions about community integration in Niagara.


The launch of the The Arab Spring Monologues creative process will occur as part of an Open Studio discussion on November 21 with the artists and production team of Khalida. The collaboration process will begin from there, and, in mid-January, a writing workshop  will take place in which the community writers will present their works-in-progress.


The culmination of this process will be a theatre presentation on March 2 of the 12 monologues, in a mix of English and Arabic.


This project will be of interest to newcomers to Canada, Arab-Canadians, those interested in multiculturalism, community development, and anyone interested in contemporary socio-political affairs.

The Show

Saturday, March 2, 5-7pm

Roberston Hall, 85 Church Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 37


Entrance is FREE. However, if you are able to make a donation to the project at the door, it would be greatly appreciated. Funds raised will go directly towards the cost of the project, such as venue rental, audio-visual equipment and labour, etc.

Groups: If you are interested in bringing a group, please let us know in advance via email and we will have a block of tickets set aside for you prior to general distribution.

Net proceeds will be donated to: Human Concern International


Open Studio at Mahtay Café & Lounge

Join us for a special Open Studio event – a unique opportunity to explore the creative process of artist, producers and others involved with the production of Khalida, A Play for the Arab Spring. Discussion between members of the artistic team about the production will allow for a wider conversation about the complexities and sometimes vexed relationships of living a ‘hyphenated life’ as an Arab-Canadian, particularly after 9/11.


Wednesday, November 21, 7-8:30pm, FREE

Mahtay Café & Lounge, 241 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines


Writers Workshop

Using a variety of different styles and genres as models for starting points, the writing facilitation team will work closely with 12 Niagara-based community writers to create personalized, thought-provoking and original work.


Please contact us if you would like to be a community writer or if your organization would like to connect us with interested people.


Wednesday, January 16, 7-9pm, BY INVITATION ONLY

Location to be confirmed


The Writer Facilitators

Jenna Sweiss

Jenna has joined neXt Company Theatre as a community and outreach officer for the production of Khalida and will be facilitating the Arab Spring Monologues event. Jenna has recently graduated from Brock University with a MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies, where she conducted an analysis of contemporary Palestinian resistance art with a particular focus on popular media such as comic journalism and spoken-word poetry. She is an active volunteer and is involved in many non-profit organizations and community initiatives, most notably as a resource writer for Poets, Essayists, and Novelists Canada (P.E.N.), where she used her experience as an educator to develop teaching guides and resources to accompany a short film dealing with issues of freedom of expression and the arts as a vehicle for social change.

Artist Statement: The Arab Spring Monologues is an initiative that engages the audience and broader community in discussion around the major issues of gender diversity and alienation of immigrants that are dealt with in the play. The monologues will extend the production of Khalida into a conversation with other accounts of the Arab Spring offering a composite of the various ways in which it has impacted peoples’ lives in the West and in the East. The Arab Spring Monologues provides opportunities for community participation and is a platform for generating imaginative and ethical responses to the revolutions, and demonstrates the neXt Company Theatre commitment to using the arts to bring awareness to gender and ethnic discrimination and challenge social injustice and inequality.


Mahabba Ahmed

Mahabba holds a B.A (Honors) and M.A in English Literature. For more than five years, she has taught writing and English literature to high school students with disabilities. She recently completed another Masters in Child and Youth Studies and is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brock University.  She enjoys creative writing and working with people. Her goal is to help young people find their creative voice through artistic expression.  She has written many poems, some of which have been published, and is currently working on a fantasy novel aimed for young adults.


Artist Statement: As a poet, and writer, I write to manifest abundance, beauty, love and joy. As an educator, my vision is to help people express their specific form of creativity. For me, writing helps me to confront my fears; it soothes my anxieties about life and gives me the motivation and reassurance I need to move forward.  For me, writing is an expression of deep love.  When I write, I feel loved.  As a writing coach, I want to extend that love to others.  I want to motivate and inspire people, so they too can feel supported and honoured enough to express their true selves without inhibition or fear. I write to inspire.  I teach to motivate.  It is my dream to create a loving space where people are free to express themselves.  There are no mistakes, only moments of constant becoming.  Everything is beautiful and perfect in its imperfection. It is my dream to have people from diverse backgrounds working together to express their creativity.  Only through artistic expression, can we move beyond racial intolerance.  My dream is for all people to come together despite their differences and find strength through artistic expression.  

Natalie Azzi

Natalie holds a B.A (Honours) and an M.A in Interdisciplinary Studies from York University. She is currently a doctoral student at Brock University in the Interdisciplinary Humanities. She specializes in the study of sexual violence in conflict zones and  is currently engaged in writing about social justice and human rights issues for women in Lebanon, to raise awareness and provide support to women in the Middle East. While in Toronto, Natalie teaches writing and social science courses to high school students and  enjoys assisting youth on their educational path. Natalie’s goal is to help people find the healing aspect within the arts and to express themselves fully through an artistic outlet, whether it be through writing, painting, performance, sculpting, to name a few. Natalie will be participating in musical performances related to social justice in the Middle East, in order to promote the importance of music in writing.

Artist Statement: Artistic projects and expression inevitably lead to emancipatory experiences or a sense of well-being in the world. Through art, I believe that people can heal. Through this transformational process, following one’s spiritual path will follow. Healing can be manifested in creative endeavors, and art is one of those pathways. The Arab Spring Monologues is a wonderful initiative to unite and to begin the healing process together. As Khalil Gibran once said, “If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?” Let’s work together in breaking down barriers, by beginning with the words we use, and in deconstructing our negative thoughts, into ones that will allow for the freedom of creativity and respect for one another.



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Brock Congress 2014

  • "A big Thank You to the people that organized the program for July 25, 2014 'The Battle of Lundy‚Äôs Lane.' What a wonderful night I had. The performance at the battle site was well done, and the crowd looked to be huge in number. Not knowing what I signed up online for, turned out to be such a rememberable night."
    - B. Trelford, Niagara

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