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Uprising Theater Presents New Play by Samer Al-Saber: Decolonizing Sarah: a Hurricane Play

By: Get News
Uprising Theater Presents New Play by Samer Al-Saber: Decolonizing Sarah: a Hurricane Play

CHICAGO - March 24, 2023 - Uprising Theater is thrilled to announce full casting and production details for its first full production Decolonizing Sarah: a hurricane play, a new play exploring the intersection of racial identity and interpersonal relationships by playwright and director Samer Al-Saber. Decolonizing Sarah: a hurricane play will run from March 31st to April 22nd at The Den Theatre, with a preview performance on March 30th at 8:00 PM CST.

A finalist in the prestigious National Playwrights Conference, Samer Al-Saber’s smart, quick-witted, and fast-paced play explores a contemporary representation of cultural and racial identities, and how they intertwine with the complexity of love and relationships.

Starring Egyptian film and television star, Kal Naga (Khaled Abol Naga), who plays Waleed, the play tells the story of two extraordinary human beings in exceptional circumstances. During a category 3 hurricane at an isolated Airbnb in Florida, while the Corona pandemic rages on, Waleed and Sarah must confront each other and themselves. Charles lurks as Sarah's racially perfect partner. Dangerous encounters occur with armed neighbors. The hurricane within Sarah and Waleed intertwines with the Atlantic hurricane to force a confession in the eye of the storm. How do they choose when their heart and their politics want different things? Until the final moment, the greater question of their generation persists, will their final choices align with their political and racial visions for a better humanity?

Noted for its distinctive dialog, this suspenseful play spotlights the instability of love across racial divides, the brutality of indiscretion, and the psychology of injustice in American life. Speaking to her refugee partner, Maren Rosenberg’s Sarah admits: “ world is horrible to people like you.” Decolonizing Sarah takes us to the epicenter of a hurricane to witness the struggle of “two warriors for a better unknown” as they confront a politically divided America, Sarah’s demons, and Waleed’s precarious existence.

Uprising Theater is dedicated to uplifting the Palestinian and MENASA communities. The theater and its supporters are heartened by the increase of works featuring these communities during this theater season, including The Shroud Maker at Chicago Dramatists, Mosque4Mosque at About Face Theatre, and Layalina at The Goodman. Samer Al-Saber's new play presents a welcome addition to Chicago’s cultural spring as exemplified by such brilliant works by, about, and for the MENASA community. This play’s experienced director, playwright, lead actors, and designers, highly accomplished in their craft, bring international professional and personal experiences to the Chicago stage. 

Shows will run weekly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8:00 PM CST, with Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Tickets for this show are $29 and can be purchased through The Den Theatre website and box office, or via the Uprising Theater event page. Because Uprising believes art is a necessity, not a luxury, they set aside five pay-what-you-can tickets available at the door for every show on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Uprising Theater is an innovative performing arts non-profit dedicated to uplifting the voices of Palestinians and others who are marginalized. Founded by Colombia College professor, Iymen Chehade, Uprising uses art to amplify the shared struggle for social justice, connecting communities and building empathy through storytelling.

Uprising is currently building a permanent home and multi-functional community space in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. The largest population of Palestinian people in the United States reside in Chicago, but there is currently no brick-and-mortar theater in the entire Midwest dedicated to uplifting Palestinian voices. This venue will blend art and community with a performance space allowing the people of Palestine and others who are marginalized to be celebrated and to have their stories honored with the fearless authenticity they deserve.


Playwright and Director: Samer Al-Saber

Stage Manager: JC Widman*

Set and Props Design: Erin Gautille

Lighting Design: Mary Mouton

Waleed: Kal Naga (Khaled Abol Naga)* 

Sarah: Maren Rosenberg

Charles and Neighbor: Whitman Johnson

Melissa and Neighbor: Cat Hermes

*Indicates members of Actors’ Equity Association

Samer Al-Saber (Playwright and Director) is a theatermaker, director, performer, and playwright, who works in both Arabic and English. His most recent performances were playing Death in Everybody by Braden Jacobs Jenkins and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Selected directorial credits include Betty Shamieh’s As Soon As Impossible, Hasan Abdelrazzak’s The Prophet, Arthur Milner’s Facts, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Diane Samuel’s Kindertransport, Noel Coward’s Private Lives, and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. His work was seen in the USA, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Samer is also a professor of theater and performance studies at Stanford University, where he is affiliated with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. He’s excited about his first collaboration with Uprising Theater and to have this new play opening in Chicago.

Maren Rosenberg (Sarah) is an actor, producer, playwright, and the Co-Artistic Director of Uprising Theater. Maren received a BFA in Acting and Theater Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Maren has appeared on Palestinian television and has been seen on stage across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Maren worked for Sharia SimSim (Palestinian Sesame Street), and co-produced productions of Fugard's 'The Island’ with American Fulbright Scholar, Joe Martin while working as the International Artistic Associate at Inad Theatre. Maren returned to the United States and moved to Chicago in December of 2011 and has been seen on stage in the US at Center Stage, BoarsHead Theatre, The Hanger Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Chicago DanzTheatre Ensemble, Redmoon, Piccolo Theatre, among others.  @marenrosenberg

Kal Naga (Waleed) is a multi-award-winning actor, producer and director from Egypt, with a large body of work in the Middle East extending to the United States, Europe, UK, Australia and Africa, he is based in California since 2017.

In 2014, Kal set a historical record for winning all Best Actor Awards in Egypt for his roles in two films: Eyes of a Thief and Villa 69, including the Silver Pyramid for Best Actor Award (Cairo International Film Festival); Horus Best Actor Award (Egyptian National Film Festival); and Best Actor Awards from Film Society Festival for Egyptian Cinema and Egyptian Catholic Centre for Cinema Festival. Other awards include Best Actor Award (Alexandria International Film Festival) and Best Actor Award (Paris Biennale of Arab Cinema).

Theater credits comprise numerous plays and musicals, including: Rafa’a in Noura at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis MN & Detroit Public Theatre MI, Samir in Brilliant Mind streamed online drama from afterlife! at Marin Theatre Company, Visiting Artist at Stanford University performing at the comedy As Long As Impossible, Directing SR of Drowning in Cairo at Golden Thread Productions San Francisco, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in Cairo (D-CAF), director and creator of Oliver! In Arabic at the Royal Cultural Center in Jordan, Bussy Monologues 2010 (Filming taboo true stories of young women and men from Egypt). Film credits include more than 26 international feature films, such as Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (Australia), Out of the Ordinary; Eyes of a Thief (Palestine); From A to B (UAE); Décor; Villa 69; Microphone; Heliopolis; One-Zero; Agamista; None but That!; Game of Love; Civic Duty (USA); Harb Atalia; Sleepless Nights; and A Citizen, an Informant and a Thief. 

TV credits include: "Ramy" (Hulu),  “Messiah” (Netflix), “Vikings” (History Ch.), “The Last Post” (BBC), and “Tyrant” (FX). 

Kal Naga is an advocate for freedom of speech and justice, and served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Egypt from 2007 to 2015, and played a pivotal role in supporting the Egyptian Revolution of Jan 25th, 2011. Instagram and Twitter: @kalnaga

Media Contact
Company Name: Uprising Theater Chicago
Contact Person: Maren Rosenberg (Co-Artistic Director)
Email: Send Email
Phone: 202.215.8274
Address:5431 N East River Rd #804
City: Chicago
State: IL 60656
Country: United States

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