The Lab and Shakespeare Theatre Company presented a symposium that explored how the creation and sharing of art is inherently political. Drawing inspiration from STC’s Feb. 2018 programming, this symposium examined Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Heather Raffo’s Noura, and placed them in the framework of contemporary global theater.

The event opened with a short framing lecture from Lab Co-Director Derek Goldman that drew from his extensive experience working at the intersection of theater and politics, and examined how content, context, and form affect a work’s political impact.

“We live in a time in which we are surrounded by fictions that would keep us from the basic truths at the heart of theater — fictions that would render some of us less human than others, fictions that divide us into competing tribes, that erect walls. From refugee camps halfway across the world to a world-class stage like Shakespeare Theatre Company, our art form has at its core something ancient, and profound — a place to truly see one another, in our full humanity, across our differences.” -Derek Goldman

[Read Derek’s full remarks as given.] 


The event also featured:

Lab Think Tank member Heather Raffo, playwright and actor, Noura, Nine Parts of Desire

Robert Joy, actor, Polonius in Hamlet

Soraya Nadia McDonald, cultural critic ESPN’s The Undefeated

Lab Think Tank member Azar Nafisi, author, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Nikkole Salter, actor and playwright, Lady Macbeth at STC, In The Continuum

Dr. Isaiah M. Wooden, Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at American University

Lab Campus Cohort member Maya Roth, Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at Georgetown University

With moderators Campus Cohort member Professor Soyica Colbert and Hannah Hessel Ratner, STC’s Audience Enrichment Manager



Originally developed by The Lab, Heather Raffo’s Noura premiered at Shakespeare Theatre Company on February 6, 2018.

Heather Raffo’s Noura challenges our notions of modern marriage and motherhood through a portrait of Iraqi immigrants living in New York. In this modern response to Ibsen’s Doll’s HouseNoura and her husband Tareq look forward to welcoming a special guest—Maryam, a young Iraqi refugee—as they prepare to celebrate their first Christmas as American citizens. But the girl’s arrival upends the family, forcing them to confront where they are, where they’ve been and who they have become.

Raffo, who first developed Noura in a workshop at The Lab in December 2015, used Ibsen’s classic and firsthand reflections from Arab American women as the launch point for her modern tale of duty, identity, and family.