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New England Theatre Geek

This past Saturday night, I was witness to a conjuring. Omar, a new opera co-created by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, is not just in conversation with history. It brings the past to life by filling in the gaps of archival memory and giving voice to a narrative that has otherwise slipped through the cracks of history.

Until now, the story of Omar ibn Said has largely been contained to academic circles, where it holds a critical place as the only known surviving account of United States slavery to have been written in Arabic. From this account, we know that Omar was an accomplished and devout Islamic scholar in present-day Senegal, when, at 37 years of age, in 1807, he was captured, transported to Charleston, South Carolina, and sold into slavery.

The audience for Omar’s 14-page autobiography was his Christian captors, so there are gaps in the narrative and only a limited glimpse into his interiority (although scholars have theorized that he might have been writing subversive truths between the lines). Omar fills in these gaps with inventive narrative devices, in the form of characters and otherwise missing scenes, but also metaphor, ghosts, and lyricism.


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about me

I'm a writer, reader, and theater-dabbler; a feminist, queer, utopian-driven weirdo. As an essayist and theater critic, my work has been published in Severance Magazine, Howlround Theatre Commons, OnStage Blog, and The Journal for Dramatic Theory and Criticism. As an educator and dramaturg, I've taught courses on play analysis, musical theater, Shakespeare, and multicultural theater history. I currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I spend much of my time kickboxing, singing, thrifting, and writing about writing.

MFA - UMass Amherst, Dramaturgy (2021)

Certificate in Advanced Feminism - UMass Amherst (2021)

BA - Washington College, Theater & English (2013)

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