We are thrilled to welcome Dana Ghazi to the stage as the Interpreter in Guillermo Calderón’s Kiss. Ghazi also served as the Cultural Consultant for the production. Kiss opens March 15th, 2019 at CoHo Theatre.
Dana Ghazi was born and raised in Damascus, Syria before moving to the United States in 2002. She studied English Literature and Gender and Sexuality Studies for her undergrads and has a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from Portland State University. Dana has worked with international programs focused on addressing major conflicts like the ones in Syria, Colombia and the Balkans and national programs focused on transforming structural violence, generational trauma and the role of the arts as a way for resistance and recovery during and post-conflict. Currently Dana works as an Arabic mental health counselor at the Intercultural Psychiatric Program with Oregon Health and Science University providing direct mental health services to refugees and victims of torture and war. Earlier this year, she joined the board of the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon.
Q & A with Dana Ghazi:
TR: What excites you about Kiss?
DG: I think what most excites me about Kiss is that it is written by a Chilean writer who is using literature as a way of shedding light on what is happening in Syria. To me, it speaks to the power of literature in transcending all boundaries and to our human connection and solidarity beyond borders.
TR: Kiss draws inspiration from Soap Opera, which some might describe as a “guilty pleasure”. Do you have a “guilty pleasure” genre of theatre, film, television or literature?
DG: I like stand up comedies and I like science fiction genre in literature, which I think at times is under-appreciated for its subversiveness. Lately I have been watching Broad City and it is definitely a “guilty pleasure”.
TR: How do you view the role of theatre in political discourse, or theatre as political action?
DG: In the Arab world, theatre has been a main form of cultural and political resistance in the post-colonial era. Much of our cultural memory is shaped by the cinema and theatre of the 1940s onward. Theater is not only allowed a collective space to address social and political tensions but also to express pains of political stagnation post-independence era or to celebrate major political wins against colonial powers. Thus, creating a shared national and trans-national identity linking anti-colonial liberation movements around the world.
TR: What do you hope audiences will take away from Kiss?
DG: I hope the audience is able to experience through Kiss the complexity of narrative surrounding conflict and the people who are impacted by it, especially ones happening in The Middle East where for so long generic narratives have masked such complexities. In one of the lines Calderón writes that romantic love is how Syrians connect with their past, identities and longing for country. For the play to take place in Damascus, one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities in the world, is to tell about this human energy of love and pain and longing, a tale of timeless perseverance and rich history.