June 25th, 2019
Two great mini road trips while in Kurdistan: I went with a family to the region of Hawraman. This is near the Iranian border. Gorgeous waterfalls, mountains, broken roads, and in one place, an open border to Iran marked only by a small stream and a tree with the words "Iran" carved into it. Near the border is a place called Amed Awa, which is a massive mountain jutting straight up, with a waterfall tumbling down from the top. A friend who was with us pointed out that Iran was on the other side of the mountain. "We don't need walls here. This is our wall." He said.
A day later I went to Hawler (also known as Erbil) for a day and flew out from there. I have just a few photos of the area around the Citadel. Galleries are posted below.
June 6, 2019
It's quickly getting hotter here. Ramadan has come and gone. It's Eid (or Cejna in Kurdish) and everyone is out at night celebrating. There are some tragic political things going on, -- Turkey bombed in the north near Zakho, shot a man who was farming who was originally a refugee from Singal. (He was Yezidi and had escaped ISIS). The Turkish military badly injured four Peshmerga soldiers, one lost a leg. In other places, people's farms and fields are being burned by the remnants of ISIS and it seems there is no will to stop it.So here in Slemani, it's peaceful and secure and people are visiting each other, wearing their best clothes, bringing each other sweets and treats.
May 28, 2019 Slemani, Kurdistan
Syrian Kids working in the bazaar:
MAY 20, 2019: KURDISTAN
I'm so happy to be in Slemani, this place is an amazing, beautiful, troubled, comic-tragic crossroads of stories and images, of people making the best of very little and trying to live a normal life under the constant threat of uncertainty. The night I arrived I got a text from my family in California asking if I was coming back home because they'd learned that the US Embassy in Erbil, as well as Baghdad, was being evacuated because of "threats from Iran". I assured them it was fine and this was just a kind of theatre. (Which it is, though sadly it could lead to war). The next night the news here was reporting that rockets had been fired at the evacuated Baghdad US Embassy and then Trump was tweeting about how he would eliminate Iran. The family I'm staying with was not as nonchalant as me. A friend told me that Iran had moved missiles into Slemani. The tv news in Arabic and Kurdish was hot and intense. The next morning we learned that the rocket landed A MILE from the US Embassy and no one knows who fired it. It came from somewhere in Baghdad.
The night after that, we went to Azadi Park, which was full of people strolling, drinking tea, having picnics in the late evening on the grass and park benches. Kids were rollerskating in a roller rink, some new and some very brilliant skaters. It isn't what I expected. A few photos:
04/07/2019 : SOUTHERNMOST
This week I got the opportunity to do press photos for the play SOUTHERNMOST, by Mary Lyon Kamitaki, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. The cast includes Amielynn Abellera, Kimberly Alexander, Aaron Ikeda, Alberto Isaac, and Sharon Omi. This was produced by Playwrights Arena at the Atwater Village Theatre and it's running through April 29th.
Playwrights Arena has been doing valuable work for a long time, producing the work of LA-based playwrights, and the work reflects the diversity of influences on Los Angeles. Let me just say how important that mission is; because so many artistic directors simply shop for plays in New York and reproduce them in LA. There are a lot of interesting important voices in LA, and one shouldn't have to send a play to NYC to get it done here. (Note, this has happened to me. ) SOUTHERNMOST is a play by a savvy young writer with a great ear and keen observational skills. The characters surprise us with both their toughness and compassion, and there's a gentle humor that never leaves the characters, even as circumstances grow dire. Set in Hawaii, SOUTHERNMOST shows us a family who may be forced to leave their home forever as a volcano threatens their existence. At one point the mother and father are fighting, he wants to stay, she wants to go. He's telling her not to nag him and she says "I'm trying to keep us from being burned up!" The volcano is a real threat, but it's also a metaphor for all the forces that are destroying the old ways of life. The costumes by Mylette Nora, scenic design by Justin Huen, lighting design by Lily Bartenstein, and sound design by Jesse Mandapat work along with the performances to create the world of being in a place that is the "Southernmost" everything-- beautiful, magical, but far away from the rest of the world. To belong, one also has to accept being cut off. Or does one? It's a colorful world, lot's of red tones as the sense that the lava flow may burst up from the ground.
I love shooting theatre- being a playwright myself, I have always loved being in rehearsal rooms, mine or anyone else's! I love the rituals of creating a reality that will live in real time, I love seeing how the moments of a narrative come together bit by bit. Photographing theatre also has the advantage of often being beautifully lit, and this show is no exception.
To get tickets and view show info go here: Playwrights Arena