Tenara Calem

Tenara Calem

Tenara Calem is a writer/performer currently based in Philadelphia, PA. She’s worked with a number of companies in the Philly area, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Painted Bride Arts Center, Lightning Rod Special, and First Person Arts, as well as Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island. Her work has been featured at Horizon Theatre Festival, earning...
Tenara Calem is a writer/performer currently based in Philadelphia, PA. She’s worked with a number of companies in the Philly area, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Painted Bride Arts Center, Lightning Rod Special, and First Person Arts, as well as Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island. Her work has been featured at Horizon Theatre Festival, earning her a Dramatist Guild nomination for Young Playwright Award. Her play Aviva in October was a finalist for the Jewish Play Project’s 2016 National Competition, leading her to win the Annual Midwestern Jewish Playwriting Contest. Her one-woman show, Me, More Normal, about the complexities of disability and social-stigma, was featured at the Art Church of West Philadelphia as part of the 2017 Philadelphia SoLow Festival and Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Israeli-born and Ohio-raised, Tenara graduated from Bennington College in 2015, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in drama/politics. She works at FringeArts in Philadelphia, stewarding community engagement and partnerships using the Consensus Organizing model. She is a first year playwright with The Foundry in PlayPenn.

Plays

  • Me, More Normal
    Me, More Normal is a play that explores the spectrum of acceptable behavior. Tenara meditates on her childhood growing up with a brother with autism, and her dawning understanding that the world is quick to label what is normal and what is not. Using autobiographical memory, material, video, and family history, Me, More Normal shows that the diagnosis of difference is not so much in the individual, but in the world at large.
  • Sweeps: or, The War Play
    Naomi runs from a mission gone bad during a civil war that’s ravaged her community. In her escape route, she runs smack dab into Yousef, a young man hidden in the trees who was shot, killed, and turned into a ghost as he fled enemy forces. Immobilized by shame, fear, and an injured foot, Naomi and Yousef are stuck together as they confront their shared sense of trauma, anger, and conflicting philosophies of...
    Naomi runs from a mission gone bad during a civil war that’s ravaged her community. In her escape route, she runs smack dab into Yousef, a young man hidden in the trees who was shot, killed, and turned into a ghost as he fled enemy forces. Immobilized by shame, fear, and an injured foot, Naomi and Yousef are stuck together as they confront their shared sense of trauma, anger, and conflicting philosophies of action in the face of oppression. Yousef discovers that it was actually Naomi’s compassion and tortured loyalty that ruined her mission, and the resulting confrontation launches Naomi back into the world, abandoning Yousef to a supernatural eternity trapped in the forest.
  • My Miranda
    In overlapping timelines, Miranda and her son Grayson caretake for a motel in upstate New York as a spaceship heads out to the cosmos to investigate a gravitational anomaly. Mei and Hal drop by the motel after their car breaks down, Young Grayson is stuck with his mentally ill mother Middle Miranda. Elder Hal and Elder Mei, completely untethered by the laws of physics, remark on how much has changed.
    ...
    In overlapping timelines, Miranda and her son Grayson caretake for a motel in upstate New York as a spaceship heads out to the cosmos to investigate a gravitational anomaly. Mei and Hal drop by the motel after their car breaks down, Young Grayson is stuck with his mentally ill mother Middle Miranda. Elder Hal and Elder Mei, completely untethered by the laws of physics, remark on how much has changed.

    Miranda is positive that she is stranded on earth due to a serious misstep in the universe. The play ends when Miranda finally leaves her life in the motel to return to her origin - a moon orbiting around our solar system’s seventh planet. The departure and then return of such large weights in the gravitational system leave Earth completely discombobulated - and its inhabitants without a linear progression of time.
  • Getting Gone
    We join two girls right on the precipice of escaping a crime and an old way of living.
  • Summer of Date Palms
    Lior is visiting is grandparents in Queens in the month before he has to return to Israel to begin his army training. This strains his idyllic friendship with Samer and Abir, the Israeli-Arab kids in the neighborhood with whom Lior has known since they moved to Queens from Israel years ago.
  • The Willow
    An adaptation of the short story RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN by Frances Newman. In a house by a pond and a willow tree in Northeastern Ohio, three generations of women encounter the strict expectations of their lives set by their town, their mothers, and themselves.
  • Aviva in October
    Within the insular but strong Modern-Orthodox Jewish community in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, a new wife and upcoming mother, Aviva, tries to fix broken things after her husband, Eli, has run away forever to play basketball. The process is diverted, impeded, and ultimately refocused by the characters who frequently drop in to the apartment; her mother-in-law, Ruthie, her cousin-in-law, Hadasa, community member...
    Within the insular but strong Modern-Orthodox Jewish community in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, a new wife and upcoming mother, Aviva, tries to fix broken things after her husband, Eli, has run away forever to play basketball. The process is diverted, impeded, and ultimately refocused by the characters who frequently drop in to the apartment; her mother-in-law, Ruthie, her cousin-in-law, Hadasa, community member Bayla, and Javier, the Mexican mechanic/basketball player from Coney Island.
  • FAIRY TALE
    During an unprecedented drought, Petra, a sixteen year old girl who lives with her mother, Rose, begins to feel restless and stifled. Rose begins sensing the arrival of a catastrophic, world-shattering event, and Petra finds companionship with her two neighbors: on one side, Mrs. Harmon, a cantankerous, gardening older woman; on the other side, Eddie, a troubled boy about her age. Her life before has been...
    During an unprecedented drought, Petra, a sixteen year old girl who lives with her mother, Rose, begins to feel restless and stifled. Rose begins sensing the arrival of a catastrophic, world-shattering event, and Petra finds companionship with her two neighbors: on one side, Mrs. Harmon, a cantankerous, gardening older woman; on the other side, Eddie, a troubled boy about her age. Her life before has been influenced only by her mother and the fairy-tale stories that she brought home, and the truths and opinions of her new friends have caused her to question everything. As Petra works out these questions by writing her own story, Rose’s intuition proves correct and an apocalyptic storm shatters their fairy-tale existence.