I had several assignments in the last two months to write about Heather Raffo’s play, Noura, for The Chaldean News. The play opened at the Detroit Public Theater earlier this month, but I initially watched it when it was being workshopped in 2016 at the Arab American National Museum.
And here’s one of the recently published Chaldean News articles you can click on to read as well.
In the process of covering her work this last month, I experienced the Detroit Public Theatre for the first time and met the wonderful people who work there. I was invited to join in a post-show discussion with Heather and a few others as a panelist (coming up on December 13 and December 18). I remembered when I was invited to do the same thing in 2008 for Heather’s play 9 Parts of Desire at the Performance Network Theatre, which unfortunately closed in 1981 after 34 years.
Meeting Heather this time around, we had a chance to spend quality one-on-one time together. I also had an unplanned meeting with Madelyn Porter, a warm, high-spirited, beautiful woman who works at the Detroit Public Theatre. Madelyn has worked as a professional storyteller/actor for the past 40 years. She and I sat at a table near the window with the sun shining over us. In this environment, the lobby area, we enjoyed a pleasant and productive conversation about various topics, including how our communities can work together. I walked away from it feeling inspired and truly happy about my work.
A few days later, Madelyn invited me as a keynote speaker at the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast held January 16, 2023. The theme is “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.” The event is sponsored by the Concerned Women of Hamtramck in partnership with the Hamtramck Public School District. She wrote, “Your beautiful voice needs to be heard.”
I was so honored and so touched. Minorities often feel that their stories are marginalized, and I think that for men and women from the Middle East, this feels especially true. Having a voice at all is a big challenge to begin with, given the regions we were born in. Telling our stories authentically requires a lot of courage. People who listen, who really listen, hear you because they are listening from their hearts and not just their minds. They have the wisdom to understand what it really means to reach out and touch somebody’s hand. And once they do that, they become examples for those they touch so that person can pay it forward.
As we near the end of this year’s holidays, look at your year and ask yourself, “Who has reached out and touched my hand? What did that do for me? How can I pay it forward in the upcoming year?
You can also learn more about Heather in the 2021 interview with her on camera.
Every month, I interview remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].
Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.
You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m letting loose and sharing morsels of my life.
Upcoming Interviews for This Month