Oct 212012

‘Trespassing’ at Ambassador Theater by Jessica Vaughan


Ambassador Theater takes on trespassers and unexpected visitors with two madcap one-acts by Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag.

The first, The Visitor, tells the story of an actress and the policeman who comes to her apartment because a well-known serial killer has said he is coming after her. It’s tense and yet funny as the two discuss justice, fate, acting, and coffee, and wait for him to appear. It becomes clear quickly that all is not as it seems and ends with a fun twist. As the play went on, it was tough to tell if it was a thriller, a comedy, a philosophical treatise, or a farce, but it also didn’t matter. It was fun.

Hanna Bondarewska (Negma Sadiq) and Ivan Zizek (Mahmud Suliman) in ‘The Visitor.’ Photo by Magda Pinkowska.

The set design by Greg Jackson changes for each one-act, but both sets are sumptuous and beautiful. The Visitor features the artwork of prominent artist Agustin Blazquez. (He is from Cuba, but specializes in Egyptian art). His pieces, including an Egyptian mummy’s case, are complimented by fun things like a gilt stand telephone and a beautiful coffee set. In the second one-act, The Peephole, the set becomes more modern but no less stylish with slightly naughty hieroglyphs on the walls – and a couch set I wish was in my living room.

The Visitor, directed Gail Humphrey Mardirosian, makes full use of the stage and the set since at several points, the actors are sent around the stage searching frantically or hiding out. She keeps the pace up and the tension building admirably. Hanna Bondarewska (Negma Sadiq) revels in the role of the diva who is not to be cowed but is drawn to the killer and Ivan Zizek as the visitor makes an excellent foil. For the vast majority of the play, they are alone in that apartment and they and the director and the actors work hard to keep the audience mesmerized and involved, and everything moves quickly.

Costume Designer Elizabeth Ennis chose some great pieces. Both plays’ protagonists’ costumes do not disappoint. In The Visitor, Negma Sadiq wears sheer fabrics with endless sparkles and gold. In Peephole, the main character’s more modern wardrobe includes a shiny silver shirt and a fabulous leather jacket. It was obvious a lot of thought went into each character’s wardrobe.

After intermission and the transformation of the set, Hanna Bondarewska takes over as director for the second one-act, The Peephole, which is the story of another famous actor Hasan (Ivan Zizek), as he arrives home to find a murdered woman in his bedroom. He calls his neighbor, the lawyer Husayn (Stephen Shelter or James Randle on alternate dates) who calls a psychiatrist Hasanayn (Rob Weinzimer) and a criminal (Adam R. Adkins) who can take the body away. Why they need both a criminal and a psychiatrist is because the murdered woman keeps disappearing and reappearing throughout the play. Bondarewska also plays the woman in a suitably gory, gorgeous costume.

This one-act got more and more surreal as it went on.The actors just threw themselves into their roles and seemed to relish the zinging one-liners they lobbed at each other – and the possible mental breakdowns happening all over the stage. What was fun though was how it echoed the other play.The evening is called Trespassing, and between the frantic searches, the murderer in the first play and the murdered in the second, and the central role of a telephone, it was fun to see what they included and echoed in each act.

James Randle, Rob Weinzimer, and Ivan Zizek. The cast of ‘The Peephole.’ Photo by Magda Pinkowska.

Lighting Designer Marianne Meadows did a great job, especially with the more surrealThe Peephole. A large part of the plot rested on her design to let us know whether the ghost (real woman? Hallucination?) was there or not. Also, in the first one-act, her warm lighting design complimented the artwork beautifully.

Playwright Alfred Farag was born in the 1950s and wrote dozens of plays still known and studied in Egypt for their dialogue and use of Arabic. Translator Dina Amin has managed to capture some of that joy of language. Both plays had some good exchanges and running jokes, like the psychiatrist answering many queries with, “In your childhood or adolescence…”

The Ambassador Theater International Cultural Center’s mission is to build international cultural awareness and succeeds with these plays, not because they showed us such a different and strange world, but because the world Farag wrote about is so familiar. The laughs work on every level and two stories about famous actors and their insecurities, lawyers, and shrinks are so universal.

If you are Egyptian or American or from any other part of the world you will enjoy these two quirky and funny one-acts. Their universal messages will hit home.

Running Time: Approximately two hours with 15 minute intermission.

Trespassing plays through November 3, 2012 at Ambassador Theater at Mead Theatre Lab’s Flashpoint – 916 G Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.


Sep 022012

Washington, DC, September 2, 2012

–For immediate release—
Ambassador Theater Presents
“A self-realization challenge”

US Premiere of Two One Act plays from Egypt by Alfred Farag
Translated by Dina Amin
The Visitor Directed by Gail Humphries Mardirosian
The Peephole Directed by Hanna Bondarewska

Set Designed by Greg Jackson Costumes by Elizabeth Ennis Lights by Marianne Meadows

Assistant Director James Randle Stage Manager Jennifer Grunfeld

Featuring: Hanna Bondarewska as Negma Sadiq (The Visitor)Ivan   Zizek as Mahmud Suliman (The Visitor) and Hasan (The Peephole);  Rob Weinzimer as doorman (The Visitor) and Hasanayn(The Peephole); Stephen Shetler as Husayn (The Peephole); James Randle as Husayn (The Peephole); Adam Adkins as Shaldum (The Peephole)


Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint,

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

Oct. 16– Nov. 3, 2012

TICKETS: $30 Gen. Adm.

Students & Senior Citizens $20

On line:

Media: Please e-mail or call to reserve your seats

WHEN:  October 16 – November 3, 2012

Previews: October 16, 17 at 8 p.m.

Opening: October 18, 2012, 8 PM

Press Performances: October 20, 2011, 2 pm & 8 pm

Thursdays, Fridays, 8 PM

Saturdays, 2 PM and 8 PM

Sundays, 2 PM and 7:30 PM

The Ambassador Theater invites you to trespass into a nighttime world of desperate crime and ruthless criminals. Or are they?  Alfred Farag lures actors and spectators into playing the game of a lifetime in the US premieres of two suspenseful Egyptian one act plays. The Visitor deals with deception (both of others and of ourselves), while The Peephole addresses the soullessness of an unchained capitalist society.

This illustrious playwright brings the audience into the world of illusion and reality, utilizing the device of play within a play. He blurs the line between what is real and what is theatrical while posing questions regarding power and social status. Ultimately, both of his plays address themes that provoke thinking on subjects still relevant to the 21st century. The audience will find themselves laughing and crying whilst trapped in Farag’s psychological maze of mirrors, a fun house where we never know what is real. These plays give insight into Egyptian socio-economic culture, which ultimately gave rise to the Arab Spring, challenging traditional views about power.

VisitorandPeepholepress release

Jan 222012

Ambassador Theater is looking for talented actors with strong movement/dance and singing abilities (FLEXIBILITY, puppetry and improvisational skills are a plus) for a very innovative and fun show entitled: Hopa Tropa Kukerica, directed by Lilia Slavova

Auditions to be held January 31, 2012

4-10 p.m.

at Durant Center

1605 Cameron Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

please sign up for audition times online at http://hopatropa.eventbrite.com/

The show will be performed at the Memorial Theater

at the George Washington Masonic Temple

April 1, 2012.

Please prepare a comic monologue and 16 bars of a song.

Actors who will be called back will be asked to dance and improvise–callback date TBA.

Please be open to the idea of touring with the show!

The rehearsals are planned to start around February 15th

Please make sure to sign up for your time on eventbrite and bring your photoresume to audition.

For more information email: ambassadortheater@aticc.org


Jul 132009

Written by Richard P. Poremski Monday, 13 July 2009 21:48

WASHINGTON, D.C. An Imaginary Flight Becomes A Reality. The fully booked imaginary LOT Polish Airline flight to ‘Poland The Beautiful’ became airborne here in the Grand Ballroom at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland on June 6, 2008. Upon ‘landing’ in Poland, a score and more of African-American students, mainly 6th graders at the Anne Beers Elementary School, proceeded to take the many passengers on a very unique and lively cultural tour of Poland.

Polish Embassy Embraces Washington School Children. Students from the Anne Beers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., participating in Embassy Adoption Program, are featured above singing ‘Piekna Nasza Polska Cala’ (Poland The Beautiful) at the Embassy just prior to their departure to Warsaw, Poland.

The student ‘tour guides’ proceeded to entertain and educate the enraptured audience with a stunning presentation of Poland’s song, dance and history, while costumed in the authentic folk dress of Poland. The enthusiastic student body sang many traditional and favorite Polish songs, including Kolendy (Christmas carols). The Grand Polonaise  (led by a fluffy-white-wigged King Zygmunt), Mazurka and Krakowiak were all performed in very fine step.

A living tableau of posed statues representing Tadeusz Kosciuszko meeting with General George Washington, Nicolas Copernicus, Frederick Chopin and Maria Sklodowska-Curie all in turn became animated and spoke of their respective personal profiles. Skits portraying the Christmas allegory and folk tales about the Warsaw Mermaid and the Wawel Castle Dragon were also presented. The several feet long mischievous dragon made quite an impression upon the audience before being dispatched by the young hero.

Prominently on display in the Embassy anterooms was large colorful displays of Poland-themed art and traditional handicrafts skillfully created by the students, as well as collection of whimsical personal portraits painted on glass. The sizable group of Lajkonik figurines attracted a lot of attention.

Upon ‘landing’ back at the Embassy the passengers gave their student guides and aircrew a very well deserved and resounding standing ovation; and then everyone disembarked into the imposing baroque Banquet Room for an enjoyable buffet of delicious Polish foods and desserts.

The Embassy Adoption Program is made possible by a partnership between the D.C. Public Schools and the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the financial support of many generous benefactors. Former Ambassador Janusz Reiter, Mrs. Hanna Reiter, Secretary Anna Barbarzak, with officials and dignitaries at the Polish Embassy, and in Warsaw, all contributed mightily to make this 2006-2007 school year program a huge success. The American Center for Polish Culture also played an important supporting role.

Pani Hanna Bondarewska – Program/Artistic Director and Founder of the Ambassador Theater – was the ‘Belle d’Polonia’ who worked unceasingly with the students and assistants in every single aspect of the complicated and multifaceted program from concept to fruition. The resulting accomplishment has garnered heralded acclaim both here and in Poland.

Bondarewska then led the students and chaperones on a LOT Airline flight to Warsaw, Poland. There, on June 17, 2008 they presented their Poland The Beautiful program to President Lech Kaczynski and a host of other dignitaries at the Presidential Palace. Afterwards, the program was toured to different venues in Poland.

What began as an imaginary cross-culture trip to Poland, in the end, became an unimaginable reality beyond the wildest dreams of its young inner-city participants.

We honor each and every student, and the entire staff, with a very well deserved Sto Lat!!

Below are the photos of students during the art program:

Below are the photos of students during the art program:




Text and Photographs by Richard P. Poremski, contact the author by e-mail.
The article was published originally in
Polish-American Journal
July 8, 2008