CTC Announces New Collaboration and Commission

An original audio drama by playwright Denmo Ibrahim will build cross-cultural understanding among marginalized groups.

Commonwealth Theatre Center (CTC) announces the commission of a world-premiere audio drama by playwright Denmo Ibrahim. The piece will be inspired by several local community partners within the Louisville area, with specific focus on Muslim youth, to develop an inclusive performance for young audiences.

Photo of playwright Denmo Ibrahim

The commission is part of CTC’s groundbreaking “Connecting Cultures” residency program, supported by a three-year grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Awarded in 2019, the grant provides funding for a mix of intensive residency programs and long-term partnerships along with funding for a new original production. Community partners include Nur Islamic School, Imagine Blind Players, the LGBTQ-focused Louisville Youth Group and others. 

“I’m thrilled to engage with the Muslim community in Louisville,” said playwright Denmo Ibrahim. “With the support of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, I’ll be able to work closely with CTC’s diverse community on personal stories of immigration, assimilation and their experience of being outside a mainstream, dominant culture. Developing an audio project for young people on such big themes will be a powerful way to create intimacy and inclusion.”

Ibrahim was identified as part of a national search for a MENASA (referring to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region) playwright who embodies the spirit of inclusion and diversity championed by the Connecting Cultures project. 

“Denmo is an incredible storyteller,” said Hallie Dizdarevic, CTC’s Director of Creative Engagement and project lead for “Connecting Cultures.” “Her writing has a magical quality that will captivate and inspire young listeners, while empowering them to imagine a future without limit.”

“Connecting Cultures” documents and celebrates the unique experiences of Muslim youth as well as other underrepresented communities. Ibrahim’s work will transform their intersecting narratives into an original production, where region-wide audiences can view themselves in the struggles and triumphs that transcend stereotypes. 

“Seeing people for who they are, what they value, and how they fit into the tapestry of American identities begins with moments of personal connection,” said CTC Artistic Director Charlie Sexton. “Theatre’s immediacy, and in particular the intimacy of an audio performance, opens new doors for people to identify with and learn from people different from themselves.”

While the pandemic has forced changes to programs and timelines for “Connecting Cultures,” CTC has worked diligently to ensure that the project moves forward.

“As this project has evolved during these tumultuous times, it has been a joy to collaborate with Denmo,” said Dizdarevic. “From the start, this project has been about fostering a new generation of storytellers–one that genuinely reflects the fabric of our Louisville community. 

“Though the path may have had a few unexpected turns this past year, I am absolutely certain that we are headed in the right direction and can’t wait to share what we’ll discover through this journey.”


About Commonwealth Theatre Center:

CTC’s mission is to develop youth and our community through excellence in comprehensive theatre education and performance. Connecting Cultures was first developed in 2013, and has a proven record of overcoming harmful misconceptions through individual storytelling and theatre collaboration. The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art grant supports a three-year Connecting Cultures project that bridges LGBTQ, disability, and religious/cultural identities. Through its nationally-recognized theatre programming and outreach efforts, CTC serves over 55,000 students and adults region-wide each year. For more information, please visit www.commonwealththeatre.org 

About the Playwright:

Denmo Ibrahim is a first generation Egyptian-American actor, playwright, and screenwriter. A Sundance Theatre Lab Finalist, the SF Chronicle called her “a tower of strength in the Bay Area theatre scene.” Ibrahim has co-written seven ensemble-based projects and authored two full-length plays. Her devised works have toured to international festivals in Egypt, France and Germany. Regional credits include Berkeley Repertory, American Conservatory of Theatre, The Old Globe, Seattle Rep, Marin Theatre Company, and California Shakespeare Theatre. She is a founding artistic director of Mugwumpin, a resident artist of Golden Thread, and a founding member of MENA Theatre Makers Alliance. Denmo holds an MFA from Naropa University and BFA from Boston University. A pilot of her new interactive film, The Brilliant Mind of Yusef El Musri, will have its world premiere at Marin Theatre Company (Spring 2021). She lives in San Francisco and Brooklyn. For more information, please visit www.denmoibrahim.com

About the Building Bridges Program

The Building Bridges Program is the grant-making arm of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA), which is an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). Based in New York, the program supports national efforts to advance relationships and increase understanding among American Muslims and their neighbors for mutual well-being. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org/what-we-fund/building-bridges.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.