The final member of the 2023 Class of Playbill Songwriters is Fouad Dakwar, a darkly comic pop-punk composer on the rise.
He came by the Playbill Studio to share music from his autobiographical musical Fouad of Nazareth, which explores his experience returning to his homeland.
Dakwar is a Palestinian artist most recognized for his subversively revolutionary storytelling. Both of his full-length musicals (R3TURN and Fouad of Nazareth) center on Palestinian life experience in the 21st century, and the connection a diaspora feels to an unreachable homeland.
Joining Dakwar are vocalists Saum Seyed and Angel Alzeidan, music director, guitar, and keys player Ben Covello, darbouka player Nathan Repasz, electric bass player Dave D'aranjo, and director Sivan Battat.
The performance's first song, "Curls Cause Chaos," explores Dakwar's experience being sent to an Americanized summer camp in Nazareth. Once he has been moved to the Nazarene Summer Camp, where he is surrounded by other Palestinians for the first time, he meets Laila, a fellow diaspora kid living in Canada, who shows him the ropes.
The second song, "In Myriad," sees Fouad going through Israeli border patrol for the first time. There, he is subjected to an invasive interrogation which reminds him of his experiences growing up Arab in New York and causes him to question the very meaning of "home."
In song three, "Roll With Us," Fouad is freed from interrogation to find his uncle, Khalo, waiting for him in the airport parking lot in a massive charter bus, destination unknown.
The final song, "Fu'ad of Nazareth," sees Fouad experiencing his own name anew for the first time as it is pronounced correctly ("Fu'ad," with a glottal stop) in the Nazarene Summer Camp, leading him to reflect on his distinct identity in New York and whether Nazareth could indeed become his home again.
Dakwar earned his Master's in Writing and Design for Musical Theater from Berklee NYC where he is currently a Post-Master's Admissions Fellow. Additionally, he is the current assistant director of the New York Youth Symphony's (NYYS) Musical Theater Songwriting program.