Nabra Nelson

Nabra Nelson

Nabra Nelson is a playwright from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is a founding company member of the Seattle based MENA theater company, Dunya Productions, a founding company member of the Milwaukee-based womxn-of-color performance troupe Heard Space Arts Collective, leads the Nubian Foundation for Preserving a Cultural Heritage, and is the co-host of the Kunafa & Shay Theater Podcast (produced by...
Nabra Nelson is a playwright from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is a founding company member of the Seattle based MENA theater company, Dunya Productions, a founding company member of the Milwaukee-based womxn-of-color performance troupe Heard Space Arts Collective, leads the Nubian Foundation for Preserving a Cultural Heritage, and is the co-host of the Kunafa & Shay Theater Podcast (produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons). She is also the Director of Arts Engagement at Seattle Rep, and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Playwrights Center, and the Women's+ Playwright Circle @ Speranza. Former member of the New Arab American Theatre Works Playwrights Cohort and SCRiB Lab's ScriptLab.

Playwriting credits include: Nubian Stories (Dunya Productions, The Scratch’s In Pencil: Staged Readings, and Renaissance Theaterworks’ Br!NK New Play Festival), What to Expect When You’re Simulating (Macha Theaterworks’ Distillery, Golden Thread Productions’ New Threads Reading Series), A Muslim Christmas Carol (Dunya Productions, reading); Confessions (or the Secret Play for Secretly Liberal Muslims) (New Arab American Theatre Works Playwrights Showcase, University of Washington, readings), Paint Me (Strawberry Theatre Workshop), Induced Labor (Golden Thread Productions’ ReOrient 2019 honorable mention), Creation Gossip and Lillith (Heard Space Arts Collective), Nebula & An Endless Staircase (Mini-Plays Magazine June 2023 Issue), and Minute to Minute and Le Serious Shit (MultiCultural Drama Company).

Plays

  • Nubian Stories
    Nuba, a Nubian woman who was forcibly relocated from her village in the south of Egypt due to its intentional flooding for the construction of the Aswan High Dam, tells the story of her people through her own incredible biography as well as through the ancient Nubian folkloric tales she grew up with. Based on a true story, Nubian Stories is a play about loss and legacy set simultaneously in the past and present...
    Nuba, a Nubian woman who was forcibly relocated from her village in the south of Egypt due to its intentional flooding for the construction of the Aswan High Dam, tells the story of her people through her own incredible biography as well as through the ancient Nubian folkloric tales she grew up with. Based on a true story, Nubian Stories is a play about loss and legacy set simultaneously in the past and present. It transports us to the village for a brief moment and makes us realize how far we are from a not-so-distant history that is being erased.
  • What to Expect When You're Simulating
    In the year 2080, the new normal involves taboos on pregnancy, car ownership, red meat, and suburban homes. It involves travel restrictions, a mixed-race majority, ongoing climate disasters, and constant uncertainty. But other than that, everything is the old normal. Except for Hoda’s experimental pregnancy. As Hoda gets ever-closer to her dream life – a home safe in Canada, away from Seattle’s floods and...
    In the year 2080, the new normal involves taboos on pregnancy, car ownership, red meat, and suburban homes. It involves travel restrictions, a mixed-race majority, ongoing climate disasters, and constant uncertainty. But other than that, everything is the old normal. Except for Hoda’s experimental pregnancy. As Hoda gets ever-closer to her dream life – a home safe in Canada, away from Seattle’s floods and wildfires, and a nuclear family to settle down with – things don’t seem to be going as planned. As she waits for her husband Ahmed to adopt a child from Egypt to round out their family, she starts getting pains that her Doctor can’t explain, and she meets an intriguing new friend named JeeYoung. The clock ticks as the Big One approaches to wash away Hoda’s plans, but she is determined to fly away in time.
  • Confessions (or the Secret Play for Secretly Liberal Muslims)
    Fatima, Layla, and Farah are old friends from high school in Cairo and are now twenty-somethings living right next door to Arab Town, USA (Dearborn). They recently met Salima, an African-American Muslim student, who quickly becomes part of the group. With new friendships and romances appearing in their lives, some secretly, their group dynamic begins to shift, revealing cracks in their foundation that cannot be...
    Fatima, Layla, and Farah are old friends from high school in Cairo and are now twenty-somethings living right next door to Arab Town, USA (Dearborn). They recently met Salima, an African-American Muslim student, who quickly becomes part of the group. With new friendships and romances appearing in their lives, some secretly, their group dynamic begins to shift, revealing cracks in their foundation that cannot be ignored. They come face-to- face with major life decisions that mean addressing the skeletons in their closets that have long been shoved painfully and threateningly into the shadows. These skeletons include: a secret girlfriend, a secret fiancé, moving out of the country, being too conservative, being too liberal, drinking alcohol, and literally being in the closet (figuratively of course). This hilarious romp is fun for the whole liberal Muslim family!
  • Memory Lane is a Desert Road
    Mark has been a professional photojournalist for over 30 years, working primarily in the Middle East and Africa covering wars, famines, and other international tragedies. Fatima, his daughter, knows very little about his decades of life-threatening work, so she searches through boxes of photos and negatives in his garage for answers. The boxes include pivotal historic moments and unfathomable human suffering...
    Mark has been a professional photojournalist for over 30 years, working primarily in the Middle East and Africa covering wars, famines, and other international tragedies. Fatima, his daughter, knows very little about his decades of life-threatening work, so she searches through boxes of photos and negatives in his garage for answers. The boxes include pivotal historic moments and unfathomable human suffering intermixed with family trips across the world. As she explores a life in photos, she learns more about him, as well as herself. This memory play is an exploration of how the past informs the future, how parents’ lives intersect with their children’s, how history and memory clash, and the search for answers to unknown questions in dusty boxes.
  • In the Village Across the Nile
    In the Village Across the Nile is a young adult play based on ancient Nubian folktales passed down through the generations of the Fadija tribe of the village of Abu Simbel. An old Crane is our storyteller, who has collected stories from villages all over Nubia since the time of the Pharaohs. Crane is getting tired and needs to pass along the stories to the next generation of storytellers. There’s the story of...
    In the Village Across the Nile is a young adult play based on ancient Nubian folktales passed down through the generations of the Fadija tribe of the village of Abu Simbel. An old Crane is our storyteller, who has collected stories from villages all over Nubia since the time of the Pharaohs. Crane is getting tired and needs to pass along the stories to the next generation of storytellers. There’s the story of Omar who inherited only a rooster and a talking cat; Ashri who lost her only anklet in the Nile; two brothers - one who is clever and one who is not clever; and the 7th girl, who saves her family. You’ll have to listen really closely, and remember the stories, so that you can tell them yourself!
  • A Muslim Christmas Carol
    A Muslim “Sgrooge” goes on a familiar journey to learn the true meaning of A Christmas Carol. On Christmas night, Mohammad Ahmed bin Sgrooge is haunted by the three ghosts of Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas Past makes him confront his younger years as an aspiring Assistant Director at a "historically" white regional theatre. The Ghost of Christmas Present brings him to the Christian home of...
    A Muslim “Sgrooge” goes on a familiar journey to learn the true meaning of A Christmas Carol. On Christmas night, Mohammad Ahmed bin Sgrooge is haunted by the three ghosts of Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas Past makes him confront his younger years as an aspiring Assistant Director at a "historically" white regional theatre. The Ghost of Christmas Present brings him to the Christian home of Christian, where Tiny Timo has a fateful iftar with his best friend on Christmas Day. And the Ghost of Christmas Future is as mysterious and exotic as ever. Sing along to your favorite completely-non-religious-totally-secular-and-very-universal holiday songs like 'Good Christian Men Rejoice,' 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,' and of course 'We Three Kings of Orient Are.' You'll never listen to Christmas songs the same way again after seeing this irreverent, comedic, PG-13 take on the holiday classic that we all allegedly know and allegedly love. By the end of A Muslim Christmas Carol, you won't be able to resist joining Tiny Timo in a resounding chorus of "Allahu Akbar, everyone!"
  • The Baby Stealing Play
    Faye steals babies. Well, ‘steal’ is a strong word… She borrows babies. It’s really not that bad. In fact it is good! In fact, it is ethically correct. Don’t believe me? This play will convince you that it is ethically correct that Faye steals *ahem* borrows babies by whipping out the most prominent branches of ethical philosophy. You heard that right, philosophers are going to convince you that baby stealing...
    Faye steals babies. Well, ‘steal’ is a strong word… She borrows babies. It’s really not that bad. In fact it is good! In fact, it is ethically correct. Don’t believe me? This play will convince you that it is ethically correct that Faye steals *ahem* borrows babies by whipping out the most prominent branches of ethical philosophy. You heard that right, philosophers are going to convince you that baby stealing is not only okay in this case but ethically correct. Prepare to be convinced! It’s The Baby Stealing Play!
  • Beach, Please
    A millenial woman living in LA realizes her only joy in the city (and in life) is the beach, so she decides to find a way to become one with the beach in order to escape her mundane and anxiety-inducing life in the big city. She works a shitty job in a shitty apartment, and as a millennial obviously has no prospects at any aspect of the American Dream, including but not limited to: buying a house, finding a...
    A millenial woman living in LA realizes her only joy in the city (and in life) is the beach, so she decides to find a way to become one with the beach in order to escape her mundane and anxiety-inducing life in the big city. She works a shitty job in a shitty apartment, and as a millennial obviously has no prospects at any aspect of the American Dream, including but not limited to: buying a house, finding a sane partner, and having a job she enjoys and that also pays well. So she decides that she will become part of the beach, her only source of joy. She tries various methods with varying seeming levels of success: woo-woo yoga guru stuff, athletic swimming stuff, burying herself in the sand, almost drowning, and full-on mermaid. Elements of her attempts succeed and seep into her everyday life. Some of those elements include: scales, are those gills?, sodium-lust, and mermaid voices. Through these attempts she explores what is truly important to her in her life, and realizes how to be fulfilled in the midst of the hustle shit storm that is Los Angeles.
  • Paint Me
    Two people on a first date bond over the subject of death, stepping into uncomfortable territory and coming out closer.
  • Induced Labor (العمل المعمول)
    This physical theater short play is an exploration of the social and familial impact of environmental injustice. It is available in both Arabic and English.
  • Creation Gossip
    Two womxn gossip about the fall of Adam. This quick piece is a hilarious feminist retelling of Eve's age-old scandal.
  • A Little Girl Wearing a Red Riding Hood and a Literal Wolf
    A wolf (almost) kills an old lady. Its punishment: stuff its body with rocks and thrown in the river. This fairytale retelling of a wolf, a girl, a grandma, and a woodsman brings us back into the age-old crime scene in grandma’s house. Among the blood and gore, we are asked to examine the nature of villainy, the relationship between humans and nature, and how we frame stories that live for generations.
  • Nebula & An Endless Staircase
    TEETOO
    A portal to space with a view of a nebula.
    PEEBOO
    This endless staircase.
    TEETOO
    This is what I have for you.
    PEEBOO
    This is what I have for you.