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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 10:10

The Public Theater Announces Post-Show Discussions for Mona Mansour's URGE FOR GOING

The Public Theater
Post-Show Discussions For
Mona Mansour’s

Public LAB Speaker Series
To Follow Evening Performances on
Tuesday, April 5 and Tuesday, April 12

March 21, 2011 – The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Interim Executive Director Joey Parnes) will present post-show discussions following select performances of URGE FOR GOING, written by Mona Mansour and directed by Hal Brooks. The Public LAB Speaker Series for URGE FOR GOING will be held following the Tuesday, April 5 and Tuesday, April 12 performances and consist of engaging conversations with the artists and notable panelists. Tickets are $15 for all performances of URGE FOR GOING and include free admission to the post-show discussions.

On Tuesday, April 5, immediately following the 7:00 p.m. performance, a panel moderated by Kate Seelye (Vice President of the Middle East Institute) and featuring Richard Cook (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and Sarah Leah Whitson (Human Rights Watch) will focus on “Palestinian Refugees in the Shifting Landscape of the Middle East.” This discussion is co-sponsored by Human Rights Watch.

On Tuesday, April 12, immediately following the 7:00 p.m. performance, a panel moderated by Public Theater Artistic staff members and featuring Dr. Bashir Abu-Manneh (Professor of Literature at Barnard College), Mona Mansour (Playwright, Urge for Going), and Dr. Helga Tawil-Souri (Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University) will discuss “Going Home: Israeli and Palestinian Homeland Narratives.”

In addition to these special events, The Public Theater will feature the art installation Third-Half Passport Collection in both of the Anspacher galleries throughout the run of URGE FOR GOING. The Third-Half Passport Collection consists of passports belonging to three generations of Palestinians. The collection portrays the Barakeh family’s passage in the Middle East––from 1943 till the present––through a series of official stamps, visas, dates, and signatures of the controlling authorities. To this collection, artist Zeina Barakeh added a self-fabricated passport as a symbolic entry to a conceptual space, Third-Half, and as an identity document that traverses the political divisions she lived through. Admission is free.

In URGE FOR GOING, Jamila, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl growing up in a Lebanese refugee camp who is desperate to escape the small and impoverished world she calls home, must face her greatest source of inspiration, her father, who may also prove to be her biggest obstacle. Mona Mansour, a member of The Public’s Emerging Writers Group, fuses global politics with the intimacy of coming of age in this searing new play.

Public LAB, conceived in association with LAByrinth Theater Company, is an annual series of new plays that lets New Yorkers see more of the work they love from The Public in scaled-down productions. Public LAB allows The Public to support more artists, and gives audiences immediate access to new plays in development.  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported Public LAB with one of the largest grants ever received by the Public Theater.

Speaker Series Bios:

DR. BASHIR ABU-MANNEH teaches courses in Global Literature, Palestinian and Israeli literatures, Marxism, and Postcolonialism at Barnard College. He earned his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Haifa, Israel, in 1994 and his D.Phil., in English Literature at the University of Oxford, U.K.   Dr. Abu-Manneh has also taught at Columbia University and Wadham College, University of Oxford.  He is currently writing a book on the Palestinian novel.

ZEINA BARAKEH is a San Francisco-based artist whose work examines the polarization of people and space during binary divisions. Through animation, media and archival installations, she interrogates constructions of identity, history, memory, and territory, reflecting political oppositions she lived through as a Palestinian-Lebanese.  Exhibitions include Illusion Gallery, Kuwait; Espace SD, Beirut; SOMArts Bay Gallery, San Francisco; Theater Artaud, San Francisco; and upcoming, Fertile Crescent, Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey.

RICHARD COOK is the Acting Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Representative Office in New York.   He was head of construction in the Gaza Strip under UNRWA’s Peace Implementation Program.  He also served as Director of Operations in the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan, managing UNRWA’s regular programs as well as its emergency responses to a series of crises.

MONA MANSOUR wrote the play Urge for Going, which was read at The Public (New Work Now!) and Theater J in Washington, D.C. and was part of last summer’s Ojai Playwrights Conference. Mansour completed a year in The Public’s Emerging Writers Group, where her play The Hour of Feeling was read in The Public’s Spotlight Series (directed by Mark Wing-Davey). Mansour trained as an actor, studying at UCSD and SMU, and started writing when she performed in the Sunday Show at L.A.’s famed Groundlings Theater. Her first play, Me and the S.L.A., focused on her childhood obsession with Patricia Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army and was performed at the Groundlings and Seattle Fringe Festival. Girl Scouts of America (co-written with Andrea Berloff) had readings at The Public (New Work Now!), NYTW, and a production in NYC Fringe 2006. Television writing credits: “Dead Like Me” (Showtime) and “Queens Supreme” (CBS). A Core Writer of Minneapolis’ Playwright Center, Mansour was named “One of 50 to Watch” by the Dramatists Guild and was one of five “Talents to Watch” profiled by The New York Times. She is most proud of having curated, with Lisa Kron, Nuff Said, a piece for gay, lesbian, and transgender youth that was performed at Dance Theater Workshop in NYC. Honorable Mention, Middle East America Playwright Award.

KATE SEELYE is Vice President of the Middle East Institute. Prior to joining MEI, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist from Beirut, Lebanon. She covered the Middle East, including the US invasion of Iraq for NPR. Later she reported for the PRI/BBC show “The World,” covering the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Lebanon’s subsequent political crisis, as well as for the PBS-TV Show “Frontline/World,” and the British investigative documentary series “Unreported World.” 

DR. HELGA TAWIL-SOURI is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her research considers issues of globalization, media technologies, cultural expressions, and their relationship to political change in the Middle East and especially Palestine. She has written on Arab and Palestinian broadcasting and cinema, internet development, ID cards, checkpoints, and cultural/political spaces of resistance.

SARAH LEAH WHITSON is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  She has led landmark investigations of human rights conditions and numerous advocacy missions throughout the region. She regularly publishes articles on the Middle East in international and regional publications.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, they give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Their rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

THE PUBLIC THEATER (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Joey Parnes, Interim Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater’s mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe’s Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater’s productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 151 Obies, 41 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls…; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice.

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URGE FOR GOING, a Public LAB production,begins preview performances on Friday, March 25 and continues through Sunday, April 17, with an official press opening on Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. All tickets for Public LAB are $15 and include free admission to post-show discussions.

The performance schedule is Tuesdays at 7 p.m.; Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  (Please note there will be no matinee performances on Saturday, March 26 or Sunday, March 27.)

Single tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555, by visiting, or in person at The Public Theater box office. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street. 


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The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities.

Public LAB is made possible with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Additional support is provided by The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

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