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Not Disoriented 

Wednesday, Nov 18 2009
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Who’s the biggest diva at ReOrient, the 10-year-old Middle Eastern theater festival? The monthlong fest of short plays features some sweepingly grand talent among its many playwrights. Is it Betty Shamieh, revered Arab-American author of Tamam? MacArthur Fellows (also known as winners of the “genius grant”) are by definition heavy on diva power, so maybe it’s Naomi Wallace with her fancy world premiere, No Such Cold Thing. It could easily be art-world film goofball Caveh Zahedi of I Am a Sex Addict fame —he’s taking a different tack here, with a playlet called I’m Not a Serial Killer. But in the end, we’re going to have to give the golden diva apple to Yussef El Guindi: The decision to transpose Chekhov into Egyptian family life, as he does with A Marriage Proposal, indicates a playwright who is temperamental, brilliant, and quivering with sensitivity. Wear your pretend tiara with real pride, Mr. El Guindi. The festival also involves a fairly extensive forum section with discussions and workshops, for all you divas-to-be.
Nov. 28-Dec. 13, 8 p.m., 2009

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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