press release

Tennis In Nablus

September 7 — 25, 2011reviewsphotos

For Immediate Release

For interviews and features contact: Phil Elman, General Manager

September 7 to 25, 2011

Hudson, NY — Executive Artistic Director, Laura Margolis, announces the East Coast premiere of TENNIS IN NABLUS by Ismail Khalidi produced at Stageworks/Hudson's home in Hudson, New York, from September 7 through 25. Preview performances are September 7 and 8. Opening night is September 9 at Stageworks/Hudson's Max and Lillian Katzman Theater.

Veteran stage, film and television actor, Nasser Faris stars in Stageworks' production of this award winning new play. Among his numerous credits, Nasser has appeared in the feature films "Spartan," "House of Sand and Fog," "Jarhead" and "Ocean's Twelve." The cast features actors Fajer Al-Kaisi, Chet Carlin, Matt Falber, Jack Kesy, Maria Silverman, Christopher Smith and Shivantha Wijesinha. TENNIS IN NABLUS is directed by Stageworks' Artistic Director, Laura Margolis.

In Ismail Khalidi's award winning, brilliant new play, TENNIS IN NABLUS, a Palestinian family is trapped in a dying revolution. Blood is spilling on the streets. Prisoners are being exiled and tortured — but all the tennis-playing English have on their minds is what they will wear to the next costume ball. True events inspire this compelling story about the Arab Revolt against British occupation as two nations fight for their stake to land during a period of momentous global change.
Set in Nablus in the spring of 1939, TENNIS IN NABLUS brings to life the last days of the Arab Revolt as the people of Palestine attempt for one last time to drive out the British. With both deep passion and bold comedy, it is a genre bending look at Palestine's embattled status through the eyes of Yusef, an unflagging rebel, his wife, Anbara who is an indefatigable writer of anti-colonial tracts and his ambitious young nephew, Tariq. As their world ignites absurdly around them, this divided family faces their own demons as they seek to achieve peace and freedom with dignity.

"Tennis In Nablus is the type of adventurous new play that our audiences expect from Stageworks," says director, Laura Margolis. "Ismail Khalidi brings a bold, contemporary voice to the Israeli/Palestinian history in a resonating voice that is exciting, explosive and unflinchingly funny. Ismail calls his play a 'tragipoliticomedy,' I just call it brilliant. It is the type of theater that stays with you forever."

"A beautifully crafted work . . . with flair and originality Khalidi defuses the solemnity of his story
by masking it with comedic zest, and yet never negates the horror of the final twist."
-Wendell Brock, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Ismail Khalidi was born in Beirut, Lebanon, grew up in Chicago and graduated from New York University - Tisch School of the Arts with an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing. Propelled into the national spotlight of talented playwrights, he is the recipient of the Kendeda Playwriting Prize for Tennis In Nablus, which received its world premiere at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in February 2010 where it was nominated for a Suzi Bass Award. In addition to being selected as a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger Award for Playwriting from the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Tennis In Nablus has been awarded the Quest for Peace Award from the Kennedy Center (ACTF), and a second place prize for the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award for Comic Playwriting (ACTF).


Ismail Khalidi was born in Beirut, Lebanon and grew up in Chicago. A poet, playwright and actor, he holds an M.F.A in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In 2009 he was awarded the Kendeda Playwriting Prize for Tennis In Nablus, which received its world premiere at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in February 2010 where it was nominated for a Suzi Bass Award. In addition to being selected as a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger Award for Playwriting from the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Tennis In Nablus has been awarded the Quest for Peace Award from the Kennedy Center (ACTF), and a second place prize for the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award for Comic Playwriting (ACTF).

His first play, Truth Serum Blues, premiered at Minneapolis' Pangea World Theatre in 2005 and was named Best Solo Show of 2005 in Lavender Magazine.

Ismail is past winner of the Emerging Writers Award from the Jerome Foundation and was a Many Voices Playwriting Fellow at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. He is a past Emerging Artist Fellow and is a Usual Suspect at the New York Theatre Workshop. His other plays include Final Status, Sabra Falling and Holy Hell. He currently lives in Brooklyn.


Nasser Faris (Yusef Al Qudsi) most recently played the role of Laxman Patel in the Old Globe Theatre's production of Rafta, Rafta. He was also Baba in the The Kite Runner at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Cleveland Playhouse, directed by Marc Masterson. He portrayed Emad Al-Bayit in the world premiere of Michele Lowe's award-winning play Inana, directed by Michael Pressman at the Ricketson Theater in Denver, about the looting of Iraq's national treasures from Iraqi museums during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Other recent stage credits include: the world premiere of Benedictus in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Akhmed in Moscow Arts Theatre's The Shelter at Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles (five Ovation Award nominations, including Best Ensemble), and SubUrbia at the Skylight Theatre. Nasser co-starred in the indie feature "AmericanEast" (Best Picture at 2008 Madrid International Film Festival and First Time Film Festival in Los Angeles) with Tony Shalhoub and Sarah Shahi, a timely, poignant drama about Arab-Americans living in post-9/11 Los Angeles. He starred in MOW's "Saving Jessica Lynch" and "Homeland Security." Feature film credits include: David Mamet's "Spartan," Vadim Perelman's "House of Sand and Fog," "Jarhead" directed by Sam Mendes, and "Ocean's Twelve" directed by Steven Soderbergh. His television credits include: recurring guest role on "24" and guest star roles on "The Cleaner," "The Unit," "Brothers and Sisters," "The Shield," "Sleeper Cell," "JAG," "NYPD Blue," and "Malcolm in the Middle." Nasser also lectures at schools and universities on his experience as an Arab-American actor.

Fajer Al-Kaisi (Tariq Al Qudsi) REGIONAL: Ashraf in Jihad Jones and the Kalishnakov Babes (InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia); E in Girl Blog from Iraq (Dallas Theatre Center, Dallas); Khalid in Omnium Gatherum (Zach Scott Theater, Austin). OFF BROADWAY: Shahid in Aftermath (New York Theatre Workshop, NYC and international world tour). UNIVERSITY STAGE: Marat/Sade (Marat), Twelfth Night (Sebastian), A Lie of the Mind (Frankie) FILM: "The Jew of Malta" (Callipine); I'll Come Running (Karim). TELEVISION: "Law and Order," "Nurse Jackie," "Onion News Network," "Primetime - What Would You Do?," "Delocated," "30 Rock" and "Time Bomb" (MOW).

Chet Carlin (General Falbour/Hajj Waleed) Broadway credits: Gore Vidal's An Evening with Richard Nixon and First Monday in October starring Henry Fonda. National tours: Sir Peter Hall's As You Like It, Fiddler on the Roof starring Theodore Bickel and Dial "M" for Murder starring Roddy MacDowall. Off-Broadway includes The Voysey Inheritance and The Glass Cage (Mint Theatre). Some favorite roles: Abbé Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo (Alabama Shakespeare Company) and Scrooge (The Radio City Christmas Spectacular). This spring Chet played Erronius in A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Paper Mill Playhouse) and directed Eugene O'Neill's Hughie (Liberty Free Theatre). Last season he played The Starkeeper in Carousel (West Virginia Public Theatre) and Smee in Peter Pan (Santa Barbara Theatre). Television credits include all the East Coast Law & Order shows.

Matt Falber (Lieutenant Douglas Duff) recently starred in Gallery Player's Brief Encounters of The Third Kind, a parody of Noel Coward's film "Brief Encounter" as Alec, Biography Channel's "Celebrity Ghost Stories" playing Michael Rapaport and The Divine Will of Ryan Morgan in the BoCoCa Arts Festival, reprising Jeremy after playing it Off-Broadway. Other credits: Father Riley in Invasion!, the Musical with Gilbert Gottfried at Hudson Guild Theatre, various leads in McCarter Theatre's Youth Ink! reading series and Demetrius in The Thyme of the Season, Duncan Pflaster's sequel to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Jack Kesy (Reggie/Michael O'Donegal) Theatre: Diary Of Anne Frank (Westport County Playhouse, Dir., Gerald Freedman), "Last Night of Ballyhoo" (Attic Ensemble, Dir: Ginger Kipps), "The Three Sisters" (Silk Street.Theater), Port, Oleanna, The Way of The World, Agamemnon (Guildhall Theater). Film: "Yelling to the Sky," (Dir: Victoria Mahoney), "Grand Street" (Dir: Lex Sidon). Jack was raised in NYC and has also lived in various parts of Europe. He is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Before falling under the spell of theater, he served in The Unites States Marine Corps and had a passion for the game of tennis, playing with many ATP tour players.

Christopher Smith (Soldier/Samuel Hirsch/Emiliano Zapata) is pleased to make his debut with Stageworks Hudson in Tennis In Nablus. He was last seen as Orpheus in Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice with Walking the Dog Theater at PS21 in Chatham. Before that, Christopher lived and worked in Los Angeles. Credits include: The Cherry Orchard, Antigone, Orange Flower Water (L.A. Times Critic's Choice), The Pavilion (for which he won StageSceneLA's award for best male performance of the year), and several other plays; he also appeared in independent films including Wart, The Golden Age, and Something Blue (which won Best Feature at the Sonoma International Film Festival). He lives in Manhattan.

Maria Silverman (Anbara Al Qudsi) made her professional debut on Broadway in Michael Mayer's Tony Award-winning revival of A View From the Bridge. Maria was most recently seen as Marta in the critically acclaimed world premiere of John Biguenet's Night Train at NJ Rep. Off-Broadway: Tales From the Tunnel, Beachwood Drive. New York: world premiere of Skin.Flesh.Bone., world premiere of Cool Blues (New Federal Theater), Macbeth, Uncle Vanya, The Contrast, Galileo, S/HE (dir. Jose Zayas), As You Like It,The Seagull, No Place to Be Somebody (dir.Woodie King Jr.), Cclit (Atlantic Theater Second Stage), Expressing Willie, Nights at the Circus (NY Fringe), and Embracing Freedom (Ellis Island). Regional: The Fever Chart (dir. Elena Araoz), Shining City, Trio Sonata, Darkness to Light, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Camino Real, The Crucible, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Educated at Yale University (B.A. in Theatre and Chinese) and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Shivantha Wijesinha (Rajib) has worked on stage, film and TV during his school years in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Australia. After competing both his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws in Melbourne Australia, he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and was invited to become a member of the 2010-2011 Company. Some of his roles at the Academy include Kent in Neil Labute's Reasons to be Pretty, Mike in Escape from Happiness by George F. Walker, Talthybius in Trojan Women by Euripides. Film and TV include "The Librarians" (ABC, Australia), "Carla Carmetti" (SBS, Australia), "Kath and Kim" (ABC, Australia) and "Osama's Taxi" (directed by Simon Kattagen, Australia).


LAURA MARGOLIS (Director) is the founder and Artistic Director of Stageworks/Hudson. Her directing credits for Stageworks include: The Amish Project, Imagining Madoff (premiere), Nowhere on the Border (world premiere), Car Talk (world premiere), Falling: a Wake (American premiere), A Wedding Story (American premiere), Dog Stories (world premiere) and many regional premieres such as Omnium Gatherum, Lebensraum, Gutenberg! The Musical!, Brutal Imagination and Wit. Highlighting her career are the plays she has directed for Stageworks' Annual Play by Play Festival of original one-acts. Regionally, she has directed at Capital Rep, Proctors, SUNY/Albany, among others. Laura has received the Certificate of Recognition from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors for providing original and creative opportunities to the community and the Columbia County Arts Award for Artist "for excellence in developing and fostering the arts in Columbia County." She attended Brooklyn College's MFA in Arts Administration program and has taught as an adjunct professor of theater at SUNY/Albany.


JOHN SOWLE (Set and Lighting Design) is the Associate Artistic Director of Stageworks/Hudson. He joined Stageworks last year as a director for Play by Play: Blue Moons and was a director for this season's Play by Play: Shadows. John has produced, directed, designed and performed in hundreds of productions over the years. In 1986 he founded Kaliyuga Arts ( with his partner Steven Patterson and has received multiple awards for his directing and design work on their Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York productions. In Manhattan he has recently directed and designed Beckett's All That Fall and Carbone's Kingdom of Not at the Cherry Lane and the musical In Circles by Al Carmines based on the work of Gertrude Stein. John received his PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley.

NATALIE LUNN (Costume Design) discovered theater in college and has spent more than 50 years enjoying where that interest has led her. Highlights of her career include Die Fledermaus for the Harvard Opera Guild, two seasons with the New Orleans Arena Theater as the Resident Set Designer; two years at Southampton College as the Technical Director/Designer and 28 years as the Staff Designer, Technical Director and Production Manager at Bard College. She has given up ladders and table saws and sticks to the sewing machine.

WILL SEVERIN (Original Music/Sound Design) served as composer and sound designer for Stageworks' production of Falling: A Wake. Will has composed and orchestrated for numerous stage productions for NYSTI, including A Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ordeal by Innocence and American Soup. He co-composed the scores for the critically acclaimed musical Magna Carta and the award-winning A Tale of Cinderella with Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee George David Weiss. Will has also written music for film, including the scores for "Dorian Blues," "Nate Dogg" and the upcoming "The Thing on the Doorstep." He has composed music for commercials and corporate industrials for clients as diverse as New York Life, GE, Coca-Cola and Home Depot. Will's record production credits include projects for Warner Music, Atlantic Records and various indie labels. He has produced and composed scores for audio books including the 2000 Audie Award winner "Sherlock's Secret Life" and the 2008 Audie Award nominated release "Hollowville."

PHIL ELMAN (Technical Director) has served as Resident Technical Director for Stageworks for the past three years. Recent plays include The Divine Sister (also set design) The Amish Project, Imagining Madoff, Or, and Play by Play. He has also designed the sound for several Stageworks' productions. As the company's General Manager, Phil has been an integral part of Stageworks both artistically and managerially for over fourteen years.

TIMOTHY W. HULL (Fight Choreographer) is a Society of American Fight Directors trained and certified actor who is pleased to return to Stageworks/Hudson to Choreograph Tennis in Nablus after performing most recently in Play by Play. He had the privilege of training and working with the President of SAFD Chuck Coyl for 3 years as well as working with Chicago's R&D Fight Choreography. He received his MFA from The Theatre Conservatory at The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He has performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Goodman, Writer's Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, NY International Fringe Festival and the 2011 Tony Award winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. Locally, he was in Cap Rep's To Kill A Mockingbird (Boo Radley/Mr. Gilmer) and NYSTI'S A Christmas Carol (Bob Cratchit/Christmas Future). He also has a supporting role in the film "Virgin Alexander" which is currently making the rounds of film festivals throughout the country.

JENNIFER SCHILANSKY (Stage Manager) stage managed Stageworks productions of The Divine Sister, The Amish Project, Imagining Madoff, Or, Play by Play, Nowhere on the Border, Car Talk, Forbidden Broadway, Falling: a Wake, Souvenir, Gutenberg! The Musical! and many Play by Play festivals. She has also stage managed productions for Half Moon Theater in Poughkeepsie and Bard College. As an actor, she performed the role of Killer as well as the Stage Manager for The Time of Your Life at the Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center, Madeline Monroe in Tony & Tina's Wedding at Proctors and in numerous productions with Classics at the Point. A native of Catskill, NY, Jennifer holds a BA in Acting from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA.

The production team includes: Jen Schilansky, Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Managers Kristaps Butners, Eric Henn, Damian Rossman and Ryan Hunlock and technical staff Nancy Kohler and David Crocoll.

About Stageworks/Hudson
Stageworks has established a reputation for its ambitious programming and adventurous productions. The company is especially known for producing the bold, risk-taking work of new dramatic voices. Central to its vision is Futures, an integrative program designed to move Stageworks to the forefront of new play development. Stageworks is both the experiment and the resource to infuse the whole life of the theater with a creative process that produces new ways of expressing, interpreting and sharing the human experience.

Stageworks is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Perform Columbia. It is the recipient of a Proctors Regional Arts Award inaugurated by Proctors Theatre in 2008 to honor the outstanding work of performing arts organizations. For four consecutive years, Stageworks was distinguished in Metroland Magazine as "Best Theater Company." Stageworks is recipient of the Crystal Apple Award from the Chamber of Commerce for providing a positive effect both culturally and economically on the quality of life in our community.

Plays are for everyone, whether written by students, established authors or emerging dramatists. Theater illuminates, expresses and interprets the human experience and profoundly serves as a global stage for social exchange and enrichment. Stageworks complements its main season with a series of programs to encourage and engage young people, traditional theatergoers and new audiences. Stageworks continues to actively take a leadership role in establishing the Hudson Valley as a cultural destination by exploring and expanding its reputation for developing new theatrical works, forms and programs.


Calendar of Events
Previews: September 7 and 8
Opening: Friday, September 9
Closing: Sunday, September 25

Performance Calendar TENNIS IN NABLUS at Stageworks/Hudson
Wednesday at 7:30 pm: 9/7, 9/14 and 9/21
Thursday at 7:30 pm: 9/8, 9/15 and 9/22
Friday at 8:00 pm: 9/9, 9/16 and 9/23
Saturday at 8:00 pm: 9/10, 9/17 and 9/24
Saturday Matinee at 2:00 pm: 9/24
Sunday Matinee at 2:00 pm: 9/11, 9/18 and 9/25

Talk Back with the cast and directors post-performance: 9/15 and 9/22

Cast (Ensemble)
Fajer Al-Kaisi, Chet Carlin, Matt Falber, Nasser Faris, Jack Kesy, Maria Silverman, Christopher Smith and Shivantha Wijesinha

Ismail Khalidi

Production Team
Laura Margolis, Artistic Director
Philip Elman, General Manager
John Sowle, Set & Lighting Design
Will Severin, Sound Design
Natalie Lunn, Costume Design
Jennifer Schilansky, Stage Manager

For tickets or information, contact Stageworks by mail at 41-A Cross Street, Hudson, NY 12534 or call the box office at (518) 822-9667. For further information, visit the website at

Single ticket prices are:
$18 for preview performances
$24 for Weekdays, Matinees and Sundays
$29 for Friday and Saturday evening performances.
Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and there are special rates for students and seniors.

Visit Stageworks' home page for more details at


Stageworks/Hudson's mainstage season is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Additional major support provided by The Shubert Foundation, Ernest O. Reaugh Foundation, City of Hudson, Columbia County Tourism, Bank of Greene County Foundation, Empire State Appraisal Consultants, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company Foundation, Jewish Communal Trust, Kinderhook Bank, Stewart's Shops, Trustco Bank, Ulster Savings Bank, United Way, Wood Hill Veterinary and individual donors.
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Stageworks On The Hudson, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. Contributions are fully tax deductible as allowed by law.
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