Staged Readings of Bareed Mista3jil in California

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Sunbula: Arab Feminists for Change & the Global Fund for Women presented two staged readings of “Bareed Mista3jil: True Stories” by Meem, a community of LBTQ women in Lebanon this past week in San Francisco and Berkeley. We received a letter from Saida, one of the organizers:

My dear Sisters,

I have the distinct pleasure of acting as the Artistic Director for two staged readings of your wonderful book Bareed Mista3jil in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past three months, I read & reread your words, felt your deep joys as well as your deep sorrows. For us as Queers, coming out is a given – we all have to do it & often have to do it over & over again…even if the hotlines in our families and among our friends are particularly active.

As the committee of six came together to make this staged reading a reality, some of us held Bareed Mista3jil for the first time. That simple act brought with it the strength of your courage in all you are doing with and for each other.

We read your stories, talked about the ones we loved best & what we wanted to highlight. We chose to present some as full pieces, adding as we went along, and searched the book for paragraphs depicting ‘Societal Dictates,’ ‘Our Families,’ and ‘Personal Perspectives,’ which I then wove together.

As the script grew, so did our readers to number eight in all. As I staged the reading on paper & in my head, I saw these readers to be a reflection of your gatherings at the Meem Womyn House. Our readers were to be readers, not acting out your stories, but telling them – the hakawati come to visit San Francisco – and we were so glad to have you here.

We held our first reading a few nights ago in an intimate setting and will read tomorrow on a stage with lights. We are taping & will look forward to hearing from you when you’ve seen our interpretation of Bareed Mista3jil.

Our readers have expressed their gratitude at participating in this project – many have told me they are finding it healing to read others’ words so closely reflecting their own experiences and reading as a way to send healing energy to the original ‘owners’ of the harshest words and celebrating the joy inherent in other loving sequences. One reader told me she had chills throughout the performance, reflecting the words and the excitement of bringing your stories to life half way around the world.

Bareed Mista3jil

Bareed Mista3jil on display at Antoine Bookstores in Lebanon

While the reading was happening, I looked around at our audience to find their attention fully focused. They laughed as two readers conveyed the lesbian relationship myths with love & humor and they were on the edge of their seats as Ya 7hayaweni was delivered (with our reader framed by the others’, standing around her in support) and followed by My Own Private Revolution as each reader said her line, vowed her strength & courage in declaring self-trust in her sexuality.

Again, I thank you for your courage, for your strength, for your perseverance, for all of us around the world as we break free from convention and stand tall in our convictions.


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