The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Patrick Willingham) and Miller Theatre at Columbia University (Executive Director Melissa Smey) will present the Brighton Festival 2012 production of A WORLD I LOVED: The Story of an Arab Woman, for two nights only, November 28 and 29, at Columbia University's Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway). Written by Mariam C. Said and Vanessa Redgrave, and directed and narrated by Redgrave, A WORLD I LOVED is a one-of-a-kind theatrical event based on the memoir of Said's mother, Wadad Makdisi Cortas, an Arab woman who lived through and chronicled one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history, interweaving her personal experiences as a student, teacher and then principal in a girls' school in Beirut with the wider political and historical narrative of Lebanon throughout the 20th century.
The cast of this narrative with music features Vanessa Redgrave, Najla Said, and Nadim Sawalha, along with musicians Steven Bentley-Klein (violin), Sary Khalife (cello), Sofya Melikyan (piano), and the Spence Middle School Chorus. Tickets for Public Theater Members and Miller Theatre subscribers are on sale now. Tickets for the general public go on sale Tuesday, October 30.
A WORLD I LOVED begins in Lebanon in 1917 and spans over half a century, through the creation of Israel to the Lebanese Civil War. The production follows Cortas as she became a pupil of the Ahliah School for Girls in Beirut, then later a teacher and finally principal there, where she remained until her retirement in 1974. A rich performance combining music, storytelling, choral singing and video projections, the production also includes appearances by two of Cortas' direct descendants: her daughter and co-author of the production, Mariam (widow of the Palestinian scholar and former Columbia University professor Edward W. Said) and her granddaughter, Najla Said.
"I am very happy that 30 years after my mother's death I was able to bring back her voice to life," said Mariam C. Said.
"The work tells an important story about one of the most complex issues of our time from a very personal perspective," said Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "This beautiful piece brings to life a world we all can love, one where art, education and music are essential bridges between communities, and where the desire for peace is given vibrant, human shape."
For nearly 60 years, The Public Theater has been an advocate for theater as an essential cultural force and forum for dialogue about issues of the day. With A WORLD I LOVED, The Public continues its long tradition of presenting theater that addresses the crucial issues of our times and reinforces the vision that great theater by important artists is the surest expression of a thriving democracy.
MARIAM C. SAID was born and raised in Beirut and currently lives in New York, where for over 20 years she worked in the financial services industry. She is the widow of the well-known literary critic and scholar Professor Edward W. Said, who taught English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University for 40 years. She is a major force behind the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which was founded by her late husband and Daniel Barenboim in 1999. She is also the Vice President of the Barenboim–Said Foundation USA, which supports music education programs in Palestine and Israel: the Barenboim–Said Music Centre and the Edward W. Said Music Kindergarten in Ramallah. The Foundation also holds a workshop in Seville every summer, sponsored by the regional government of Andalucía. She serves on the boards of a number of cultural organizations, including the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, and ArteEast, a New York-based international non-profit organization that supports and promotes artists from the Middle East and its diasporas. She is a founding member of the board of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and served on the Board of Directors of the American University of Beirut's Alumni Association of North America. She is also an active participant in Senza Frontiere ('Without Borders'), a group that evaluates and recommends films for the summer film festival in Italy. In 2009 Mariam Said published A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman, the memoir by her mother, Wadad Makdisi Cortas. She holds an undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut and two graduate degrees from Columbia University in New York.