Alumni Spotlight: Kareem Fahmy '07

November 12, 2019
Kareem Fahmy

Kareem Fahmy is a Canadian-born director and playwright of Egyptian descent. He has directed a number of world premiere productions including James Scruggs’s 3/Fifths (3LD, New York Times Top 5 Must-See Shows), Sevan K. Greene’s This Time (Sheen Center, New York Times Critics’ Pick), Bess Welden’s Refuge*Malja (Portland Stage), Adam Kraar’s Alternating Currents (Working Theater), Nikkole Salter’s Indian Head (Luna Stage), and Victor Lesniewski’s Couriers and Contrabands (TBG Theatre, also co-creator). Kareem’s plays, which include A Distinct Society, The Triumphant, Pareidolia, The In-Between, and an adaptation of the acclaimed Egyptian novel The Yacoubian Building, have been developed or presented at The Atlantic Theater Company, Target Margin Theater, The Lark, Fault Line Theater, and Noor Theater. He has been a fellow or resident artist at the Sundance Theatre Lab, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Phil Killian Directing Fellow), Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center (National Directors Fellow), Second Stage (Van Lier Directing Fellow), Soho Rep (Writer/Director Lab), Lincoln Center (Directors Lab), The New Museum (Artist-in-Residence), and New York Theater Workshop (Emerging Artist Fellow & Usual Suspect). He has developed new plays at theaters around the country, including MCC, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Dramatists, The Civilians, Geva Theatre, Pioneer Theatre, Silk Road Rising, and Berkeley Rep. Kareem is the co-founder of the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at The Lark and a co-founder of Maia Directors, a consulting group for organizations and artists engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond.

Was there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?

Anne Bogart is the reason I have a career in the American theatre. I was a theatre geek living in Montreal, directing shows without any real training or knowledge of what I was doing. And then I got accepted into the directing program at Columbia since Anne had identified that I had a vision and ideas, if not necessarily the tools to carry them out. She encouraged me to listen to my instincts, and to explore how my life experience had shaped my view of the world. There's not a day that goes by when I'm directing when I don't think of something she taught me. 

What advice would you give to recent graduates?

To work in the theatre, particularly in New York, it's all about building a community. I believe the key thing is to find people whose work excites you, and create relationships with them. These may be writers, designers, actors, producers — it's these key bonds that sustain you as an artist.

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