Rana Kazkaz

2004 EP. NO. 5
RANA KAZKAZ is the daughter of a Syrian/Palestinian (with roots in Bosnia & Kurdistan) immigrant father and Polish/American mother. Having lived, worked and studied in Syria, Algeria, Russia, France, South Africa and Egypt, Kazkaz has a strong knowledge of the challenges and possibilities of global exchange. She has established relationships and collaborations with numerous Arab immigrant organizations, including the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Nibras, Arab American Theatre Collective.

Kazkaz completed her graduate studies in Acting at Carnegie Mellon University/Moscow Art Theatre and received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College majoring in both Theatre & Russian Language & Literature. She has earned a reputation as an actor-producer with a passion for tough stories, and particularly, those from the Middle East and Africa. She began her arts training 10 years ago at Oberlin College, where she was one of the first American acting students to train with the world-renowned Moscow Art Theatre.

Following graduation, she made her stage directing debut with John Guare’s “Loveliest Afternoon of the Year.” She served as Executive Producer and lead actor in the Off-Broadway premiere of Radha Bharadwaj’s “Closet Land”, a production hailed by Backstage Magazine as “simply spectacular”; co-produced the South African staging of Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks’ play “Venus”; and co-produced and starred in “Unexpected Journeys”, a festival of plays by women of Muslin cultures. She has performed at such diverse venues as The Lincoln Center, Town Hall, The Duke Theatre on 42nd Street, Mixed Blood Theatre, Moscow Art Theatre, and in Capetown, South Africa; and alongside such artists as John Turturro, Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber and Daphne Rubin-Vega. She recently appeared in the sold-out post-September 11th event “Imagine: Iraq” featuring plays by Tony Kushner, Kia Corthron and other writers.

In addition to acting and producing plays, Kazkaz is the subject of a chapter of a book by Dr. Sanaa Munir celebrating women theatre artists; was a featured guest (with Ed Koch) on the popular PBS series “This Is America”; and facilitated a public dialogue with Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem on human rights violations around the world. Her work has been featured in Backstage, NY Theatre, American Theatre, NY Times, NY Post, Time Out New York, Newsday, Vibe, South African Star, South African Sunday Times, and on SABC-TV, Radio France and WBAI FM radio; in Momar Films’ “The Librarian Wants Chinese,” and the televisions shows, NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “This is America with Dennis Wholey” and “Jersey’s Talking with Lee Leonard.”

As a company member of the Irondale Theatre Ensemble and Epic Theatre Center, she taught students of color during long-term residencies at Riker’s Island Prison and numerous Alternative High Schools in Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Queens. Currently, she is developing theatre, television and film projects with artists of diverse backgrounds as well as several projects with Arab artists in the Diaspora. Kazkaz is a founding member of the American Russian Cultural Foundation, and cofounder with Bridgit Evans of THE KAZBAH PROJECT, a production company.

She is often asked to speak about artist activism and ethnic stereotyping, and by invitation, Kazkaz has presented speeches and workshops across the U.S., South Africa, and Russia. Her future plans include traveling to the Middle East in 2004 to develop an adaptation of Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” for international touring.

Last updated 2009.

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