The feminine and masculine are out of balance. In this I see the roots of wars and violence:
Against women, mother earth and nature.
My mission is to store the balance between the two, within myself and in the world around me, the best way I know how.
Giving voice to the unvoiced, awakening imagination, building bridging between people, transcending boundaries of language, culture, and punctuation, being a catalyst for change and a vehicle for peace … living free, with joy and integrity … this is what I aim to do.
I was born and raised in Amman, with Palestinian and Jordanian blood running through my veins. As a child, I loved to dance – that has never changed. I stood on my head and looked in the mirror behind my bedroom door, imagining the worlds beyond (I eventually stopped doing that.) Alice in Wonderland was one of the books that defined that period in my life. The other books were a collection of poetry written by my father “من غبار الأيام” and The prophet by Khalid Jibran. Then came Huston Smith’s World Religion, which opened a whole new area of interest that grew as I grew.
Wanting to be everything from a Psychologist to an architect to a detective, I decided on ‘actress.’ I was drama-inclined and could switch emotions on demand, so it seemed like a logical choice…
At fifteen years old, I received a scholarship to represent Jordan at the United World College in New Mexico. Living with two hundred students from seventy five countries for two years, undergoing a rigorous academic program that included cultural and social work was – as one might expect – a life changing experience.
I studied Psychology and Fine Arts at the George Washington University and graduated Cum Laude, in spite of all the distractions. I then decided to pursue my childhood dream and moved to New York city. I wanted to be the next Bette Midler. Two months after moving there, the towers fell and the whole world changed – my last name became a problem. While I did secure some roles (the most personally meaningful being “How His Bride Came to Abraham” by Karen Sunde), I started questioning the purpose in life. I got into yoga and found my spirituality in Central Park.
My search led me to Northern California, to John F.Kennedy University and a Masters program in Consciousness Studies and Dreams. Paradigm shifts and transformational experiences is how I’d sum up that period. I wrote my masters thesis on “The Jinn: A case study of spirit possession and traditional healing,” and published several articles. Upon graduating, I went on a solo retreat in the mountains of Inverness – at the Lucid Arts Foundation – for thirty eight days. I weeded and planted and followed deer trails. I never saw a burning bush – perhaps if I had completed the forty… but my intentions for the next phase were clear. I worked two years as a translator at “Mosiac World News from the Middle East” at Link TV in SF (developing a great love for the expanded Arabic dictionary as a result- which some have called obsession.) Meanwhile, I gave dance & mythology classes for women and finally took the step I knew I needed to do and went back ‘home.’
In Jordan, I joined forces with a group of young creative women and co-founded “Aat Network.” I curated, directed and produced “Aat’s international Women’s day festival” for four years (You can read about Aat here.) I wrote and performed “In the lost and Found:Red Suitcase” a bilingual monodrama that landed me the Etel Adnan playwright’s award. I directed several other plays and developed and led creativity & human rights workshops in refugee camps and villages. I received several grants from organisations like SIDA, AFAQ, and Clore-Chevening leadership.
I led theme-based Journeys to Jordan, whih led to a women’s peace Journey in 2013 that started in Amman and ended in Jerusalem. That got me into trouble with accusations of being an Arab traitor. As quickly as I was embraced by the regional culture and media – as quickly as I was shunned out. But I came out of it with a new solo performance without words (Turaab) and a manuscript for my my first novel: Daughter of Abraham (now in re-editing) and thus see it all as a blessing in disguise.
For the past five years, I have been living in the South of the Netherlands, where I established ‘Aat Theater‘ as my business, continuing to create, perform and write, having added a new language to my box of tools – Dutch. In 2018 I established Maskan Aat with the support of GAA productions as a place to give workshops and classes and creative residencies.
Otherwise, my time is mostly spent in the garden, weeding and planting (which usually ends in inspiration to write) and enjoying my family: my husband and our two dogs and two cats and the rich wild life that blesses us with its presence.
Photo credits on this page: Dead Sea by Kristof Persyn & LakeBird by Bhaskar Banerji