A Transmedia Theatre Project
DRONE is a new play by Andrea Assaf, and a transdisciplinary performance project integrating theatre, live music, drone technology, and artistic containers for public dialogue. It explores the drone as a metaphor for how we become desensitized to daily violence, domestic and global, the question of Moral Injury, and the effects of remote-control warfare on the human soul.
New Work in Development
In January 2023, the artistic team of DRONE will share a special, invitation-only, work-in-progress performance at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) New Orleans! Reception begins at 6PM, with 7-9PM Performance followed by a dialogue with artists and audience. RSVP required. Featured performers include Lyam B. Gabel, Ifrah Mansour, Heather Raffo, Nick Slie, Gerard Stropnicky, Ashley Wilkerson, Anu Yadav, and Dora Arreola, with live music by Lubana Al Quntar, Eylem Basaldi, Kathy Randels, Aida Shahghasemi, and Zafer Tawil. DRONE will continue development over the next year and will return to the CAC in 2024. Stay tuned!
In November of 2022, Andrea Assaf was an artist-in-residence at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. A phenomenal team of artists came together for a development residency, in conjunction with the Museum's A+R convening and the MENA Theatre-Makers Alliance Fall convening. After a week of exciting aesthetic discoveries and collaboration, the residency culminated in a work-in-progress performance of DRONE: Testimonies & Music, including excerpts of the play based on actual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of U.S. military drone strikes, paired with an original sound score exploring "droning" in music traditions from the U.S. South to Southwest and Central Asia. Featured performers included Lubana Al Quntar, Andrea Assaf, Eylem Basaldi, Kathy Randels, Ashley Wilkerson, Anu Yadav, Victor Ghannam, Roger Kashou, and Gabi Vigueira. Missed the livestream? Check out a short video excerpt the performance in the "videos" section below!
As an Arab American National Museum Artist-in-Residence, during her Digital Residency in February 2021, Andrea Assaf developed the script for DRONE, while exploring new directions necessitated by the virtual world we now inhabit. The process included online ensemble-building with an incredible cast of collaborating artists (pictured above): Nick Slie, Kathy Randels, Ashley Wilkerson, Heather Raffo, Adelina Anthony, Ifrah Mansour, Anu Yadav, and Robert "Bobby B." Martin. Script development culminated in an online reading of the first full draft, with Critical Response feedback from invited partners and supporters.
Stay tuned for the first full production in 2024!
Call for Video Submissions
Art2Action, in partnership with the Arab American National Museum, is launching a national Call for Video Submissions from Arab American, SWANA (South West/Central Asian and North African), Muslim, and allied artists and community members, to share lived experiences related to key themes in this work. The DRONE project seeks to document direct experience with surveillance or militarized drones. If you have worked with or witnessed military or surveillance drones, and would like to share your story, please consider submitting a video to our interactive archive (currently in development). Videos should be 3-5 minutes in length, and should specifically reflect these themes. Use the approach of your choice--a story, poem, song, movement, media or more--to share your personal experience. All stories should be true, and all creative content must be original (or public domain). Videos submitted will be considered for showcases on a new website, and for screening in conjunction with performances and dialogue events for this project. Learn more by visiting the Call for Submissions form, and SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE.
Background & Vision
DRONE will be an ensemble, multimedia theater work, in which visual and sonic environments are as strong as the performances. With Dora Arreola as Movement Director/Choreographer, performers will develop a shared physical vocabulary—exploring the “drone” in movement as an embodied experience of militarization. Composer Eylem Basaldi will collaborate with performers to develop an original sound score, exploring practices of “droning” in music traditions from Appalachia to Iran. Through the creative encounter of artists from the U.S. and the Middle East, we will explore how the aesthetic drone can link and traverse global locations, cross time zones and centuries, to create a sonic base for simultaneity. Projection Designer Eva Auster will also be part of the process throughout, developing imagery as the text and performance elements evolve together.
IMPACT: This project aims to expose the horrors of the mundane, and the deceptive “security” of limitless surveillance and endless war. We want to create a work that will bring awareness to the rapid proliferation of militarized drones, and stimulate public dialogue on this very real and disturbing subject. Our hope is to increase awareness of the military use of drones, for surveillance and bombing, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, at the U.S.-Mexico border, and beyond…as well as within U.S. borders. Through national partnerships with CODEPINK Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and About Face (formerly Iraq Veterans Against the War), and other activist organizations, we hope to catalyze broad public dialogue and action on this crucial issue. We also hope to inspire audiences to reflect personally on how and why we choose to “drone” out, or default into denial and escapism – and how we could all choose differently, to actively engage in creating a more peaceful world.