|Yussef El Guindi|
|When Theater Schmeater produced Yussef El Guindi’s Back of the Throat, winner of its Northwest Playwrighting Competition, this Spring, it didn’t just find a promising new writer, it unveiled a timely, sure-to-be-controversial play – an Arab-American is “investigated” by Patriot Act-armed government thugs. El Guindi, who is of Arab descent, was raised in England and started out as an actor before shifting to playwriting in America. His writing goes beyond gimmicks (unlike, say, The Pillowman, a similarly-themed play about a writer being investigated), using pithy, Mamet-like dialogue to push action forward while simultaneously digging at sinister motives.|
|What brought him to Seattle>
A good transport system (I don't drive), and word that the city was a decent theater town. Theaters have been dropping off since I've been here, and places to submit work have been shrinking, unfortunately. But, I'm hopeful; and new theaters are always springing up, so...you never know."
|other plays done around Seattle>
Theater Babylon produced a play of mine called Finishing School. I've also had pieces performed by a group called VIA.
|The future of his recent play>
"Back of The Throat" is slated to be performed at a theater in Durham North Carolina called Manbites Dog. Also, the Eccentric Theater Company in Anchorage Alaska wants to do it. And a theater in Chicago called The Silk Road Theater Company wants to produce it in April 2006. This December/January, it is scheduled to be performed in Cairo, Egypt at Al Hanagar. It will be performed in Arabic.
I'm trying to get another play called Ten Acrobats in An Amazing Leap of Faith done here. It is being staged in Chicago (at Silk Road Theater) in October
|On the ambiguous ending of “Back of the Throat”> The ending as is came very early on in the process. I always had an image of Asfoor (a bomber) and Khaled together at the end. The idea being that regardless of Khaled's innocence, he has now become so enmeshed in the narrative that the two government agents have been spinning, that there's really no way for him to untangle himself from Asfoor and the terrorist attacks. He has been written in, so to speak. By both the agents' story and the one that Asfoor sprung on everyone....I know it's very ambiguous as is. But I didn't want to draw any hard conclusions at the end.|
|On being often described as “Kafka-esque”>
Not so much hovering over me as an awareness that parts of it are
similar to Kafka's "The Trial". The idea of not knowing what you've been accused of; or who your accusers are, etc. But this isn't so much an echo of a literary source, as it is of what's currently going on. The situation around the country and elsewhere has become Kafka-esque. It's reality mimicking fiction. And Kafka's fiction very early on captured the sense of getting caught up and lost in a huge and impersonal bureaucracy. Once your name is on "the list", it's very hard to get off it.
|Other plays of his exploring the Arab-American experience> Ten Acrobats in An Amazing Leap of Faith is an exploration of an Arab-American, Muslim family; how their cultural, religious values might conflict with their adopted homeland. Also, another play, a comedy called Jihad Jones and The Kalashnikov Babes focuses on the dilemma an Arab-American actor faces when asked to play a terrorist in a film directed by a big-time director. It's a great opportunity, but the main character has vowed never to play a terrorist. It will receive a workshop and a staged-reading this Fall at the Lark Theater in New York.|