LFP Conversation with Hanane Hajj Ali


Thursday, November 2, 2017, 4:00pm


Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St.

Hanane Hajj-Ali. PHOTO: Nora AwsabeOn her daily jogging route through Beirut, Lebanon, playwright, actor and cultural activist Hanane Hajj Ali began to take notes. She started jogging as exercise – to avoid stress and fend off osteoporosis. Along the way, she began to see the streets of her city with new eyes. As she considered the city’s history of building and destruction through war, she thought about her roles of woman, wife and mother. She examined her dreams and desires. And she thought about Medea. 

Presented by: Learning from Performers program, in partnership with Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and in collaboration with Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Admission: Admission free. All are welcome.
Related eventPost-performance discussion with Hajj Ali: November 3, 9 PM
Read A question of beliefs by Truelian Lee '21 on the Harvard Arts Blog

This is the setting for Jogging: Theater in Progress, Hajj Ali’s one-woman show that has won accolades for its intimate and contemporary view of Middle Eastern politics and mythic storytelling. Harvard-Radliffe Dramatic Club is presenting an adaptation of the play – expanded for nine actors – under the direction of Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, as part of the fall Visiting Director Program at Harvard. Hajj Ali, who lives in Beirut, will participate in a Learning from Performers event on Nov. 2 in which she explores the themes of the Jogging script and her own writing life with several members of the cast as readers. She will also participate in a post-performance discussion on Nov. 3. Both events are free and open to the public. The show, which runs Oct. 27-Nov. 4 at the Loeb Drama Center, requires tickets that may be purchased here. Students with HUID get in free. 

Student bios

Mahnoor Ali '19Mahnoor Ali '19 (Hanane) grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She has been involved in arts at Harvard in a variety of ways, most recently as an actress in Jogging and as a student guide at the Harvard Art Museums. She also works as a PAF and as an intern at the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations. 

Ruva Chigwedere '21Ruva Chigwedere '21 (Medea) was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and now lives in Florham Park, New Jersey. She has acted in school theater productions since elementary school, and in high school, she performed with various choir groups in New Jersey. In addition to theater, she is involved in the Association of Black Harvard Women and the Kuumba Singers.

Iris Feng '18Iris Feng '18 (Yvonne) grew up in China and moved to the U.S. when she was 10. During her junior year, she took a gap year to learn acting in Hong Kong and is an aspiring actor. She concentrates in psychology and lives in Currier House.

Elle Shaheen '21Elle Shaheen '21 (Zahra) is from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Since she was 5, Elle has fully immersed herself in the theatrical arts through acting singing, dancing, choreographing, writing and producing. She is the founder of Type E Productions and recently received a 2017 Kennedy Center for the Arts VSA Playwriting Discovery Award. Not only has she dedicated herself to the arts, but is also an outspoken advocate for Type 1 Diabetes working with organizations such as JDRF, and Children's Congress. She has declared herself a TDM concentrator and looks forward to exploring Harvard's arts community

Georgia Bowder-Newton ’21Georgia Bowder-Newton '21 was born and raised just outside of Boston, acting in plays and musicals since she was in elementary school. She is also active in performing as a singer/songwriter, accompanied by her piano and accordion.


Artist bio

“The common element in all of my performances in Lebanon has been shock,” said Hajj Ali in The National during the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where Jogging was featured in the lineup for Arab Arts Focus Edinburgh. “After once playing the show in a part of Lebanon that was ruled by a group averse to the ideas that I was presenting, an audience member walked up to me and asked if I was afraid for my life, as people had certainly been killed for less in the country. I answered by asking: ‘Why should I be afraid? Am I not portraying real life? All I’m doing is using my artistic background to portray reality.’”

Hanane Hajj Ali is an artist, activist, researcher, consultant and trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in theater studies from Saint-Joseph University in Lebanon, a certificate in theater and telecommunications from San Diego State University as well as a diploma in acting and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Lebanese University.

Hajj Ali is a founder and board member of several cultural institutions and artistic organizations in the Arab world such as Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, Action For Hope and Ettijahat – Independent Culture. She has participated in the design, elaboration, implementation and monitoring of several regional and national programs of cultural management, cultural leadership and cultural policies. She is a member of the Arab Cultural Policy Program, and has edited and written books and guides in cultural and artistic research, cultural management and cultural policies.

In addition to her academic and artistic activities as an independent artist, Hajj Ali has collaborated with the Lebanese ministries of education, information and culture. She has collaborated with the Tunisian ministry of culture to enhance the cultural management capacities in both the governmental and independent sectors and to stimulate the common projects between the two sectors in six Tunisian regions.

Hanane Hajj Ali’s residency is sponsored by the Office for the Arts Learning from Performers program, in partnership with Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and in collaboration with Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.