The best kind of drama

The explosion in Arab-American theater in the last decade or so is a welcome development, and it’s well-chronicled in Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle-Eastern American Drama. Included are plays that range from the experimental (like the poetic 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, given a wonderful production in Sacramento a few years ago by Beyond the Proscenium Productions) to the traditional (Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith, Yussef El Guindi’s play about an Egyptian-American family in the midst of an assimilation crisis in the second generation. Misha Shulman’s Desert Sunrise: A Tragedy with (Some) Hope and Nathalie Handal’s Between Our Lips both address the Palestinian-Israeli divide, but with more similarity than difference. What these plays reveal is the range of creativity and the incredibly strong hybrid forms created when the “hyphenated” generation begins to spread its wings. In short, it’s good, relevant and surprising American drama.