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Press Release: avaaz


Hilarious, Deeply Personal Tribute to the Playwright’s Mother Part of the 25th Pacific Playwrights Festival

COSTA MESA, Calif. (April 13, 2023)—South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei) brings you the story of the American journey through an Iranian American lens with the world premiere of avaaz by queer Iranian American playwright Michael Shayan. Directed by Tony Award-nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God), avaaz runs April 29-May 27 on the Segerstrom Stage.

In avaaz, Shayan introduces you to Roya, our fabulous hostess who welcomes you into her home to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. She’s preparing a feast, but the main attraction is Roya’s great American journey from Tehran to “Tehran-geles,” California. This hilarious and deeply personal tribute to Shayan’s mother is deliciously portrayed by the person who knows her best—her son. Traditions, humor and passionate storytelling transform this tale of family bonds into an unforgettable theatre event.

Along the way, Shayan brings humor and heart to universal questions and themes which are especially urgent given the ongoing woman-led revolution happening right now in Iran.

“Michael Shayan’s avaaz is at turns hilarious and heartwarming. Provocative, evocative and universal, the story traces his mother’s journey from Tehran to Los Angeles,” Ivers said. “It chronicles the struggle and reveals the fortitude so familiar to so many Americans.”

Featured as a reading in last year’s Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF), avaaz is one of the anchor productions of the 25th PPF, May 5-7. It is Shayan’s first full production at South Coast Repertory.

Shayan, a graduate of Harvard with a Masters of Fine Arts in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, was a Consulting Producer for the Discovery+ series “The Book of Queer” and worked on the Emmy Award-winning HBO Max show “We’re Here.” avaaz received development grants from the Sundance Institute and Theatre Aspen, with additional development support from the Ojai Playwrights Conference and La MaMa. Shayan was a Lambda Literary Playwriting Fellow and is developing an original work for Audible. His playwriting credits include the Geffen Playhouse, New York Stage and Film, and Rattlestick, among others. At age 13, he was the youngest member in the history of Hollywood’s Magic Castle.

von Stuelpnagel is one of the most acclaimed theatre directors in the country, with three Broadway credits: Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet, Noël Coward’s Present Laughter (which earned three Tony nominations) and Robert Askins’ Hand to God. von Stuelpnagel’s credits include the West End productions of Rebeck’s Madhouse and Hand to God, which earned an Olivier Award nomination. His off-Broadway credits took him to MCC Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Ma-Yi Theater Company/The Public Theater), Manhattan Theatre Club, Studio 42, Lincoln Center and Ensemble Studio Theatre. von Stuelpnagel directed Ava: The Secret Conversations by Elizabeth McGovern, currently running at the Geffen Playhouse.

The design and creative team include Beowulf Boritt (Tony Award winner for Act One by James Lapine), set design; Joshua “Domino” Schwartz (Emmy Award winner for “We’re Here”), costume design; Amith Chandrashaker (Drama Desk Award winner for Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon), lighting design; Noel Nichols, UptownWorks, sound design; Yee Eun Nam, projections design; Lauren Lovett, vocal coach; Abigail Katz, dramaturg, and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting director. Maisie Chan is the production manager, Natalie Figaredo is the production stage manager, and Kathryn Davies is the assistant stage manager.

avaaz received generous support from Honorary Producers Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker. SCR cultural partner is the Farhang Foundation.

Tickets are now on sale and range in price from $27 to $98, with additional discounts available for educators, seniors and theatregoers ages 25 and under. Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at (714) 708-5555. More information is available at

Special Events

  • Post-Show Discussions with the playwright/actor and a special guest
    • Saturday, May 13, 2:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, May 21, 2:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, May 25, 7:30 p.m.
  • Inside the Season: Saturday, May 20, from, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively 90-minute session includes in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of avaaz. Segerstrom Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.

Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.

2022-23 Productions:. avaaz, April 29-May 27, 2023. The annual showcase of new works, the Pacific Playwrights Festival, runs May 5-7, 2023. Outside SCR’s production of La Havana Madrid runs July 15-Aug. 4, 2023 at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Complete information is available at

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY:  Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program—The Lab@SCR—which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. Of SCR’s more than 500 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.

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