Using Theater to Uplift Resilient Voices

gina fawaz columbia

Notebook is a Columbia News series that highlights just some of the many fascinating students who study at our University. 

Ghina Fawaz is an MFA student in the Theatre Program at School of the Arts. When she isn’t creating her own dramatic projects at Columbia, she is most likely in the audience at one of countless productions that take place all over the city.

When are you graduating from the School of the Arts? What is your concentration in the Theatre Program?

I will be graduating in May 2025, and my concentration is directing. 

What was your path to pursuing an MFA at Columbia? 

In the summer before my junior year of undergrad, I was studying to receive my B.A. in psychology and theater. During this time, three events occurred that deeply impacted me and my artistic journey—the pandemic, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the August 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion. I felt a revolution inside me and a goal to uplift these resilient voices. I began to develop a new narrative tapestry that focused on interweaving threads of culture, theater, and activism. It was then that I decided to become a director. 

How do you like studying in New York? What are your favorite urban activities? 

I love New York! The adventure of the city makes me feel whimsical and becomes my creative partner. I love that you can take the train anywhere—to see a show, go to a bookstore, a downtown pop-up, a park, a festival, a museum, and so much more. As a director, it is exciting to be in a place where so many theater-makers come to pursue their dreams. The city becomes my classroom, library, and lab all blended into one. New York is a tapestry of cultures, traditions, and expressions from around the world, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

Any recommendations for things to do beyond campus?

Seeing shows! There is so much theater happening in New York, waiting for you. I also recommend K-Town, the Metropolitan Museum, and seasonal pop-ups and festivals.

What are your plans post-graduation?

Poet Refaat Alareer said, “If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale.” I see myself as a storyteller for liberation. As a Lebanese-American director, my future is dedicated to using art to amplify underrepresented voices and explore themes of resilience and justice. My time at Columbia has empowered me to develop projects like Antlers and Three Sisters, which explore themes of resilience under occupation and the forgotten dreams of refugees. 

Beyond graduation, I look forward to opportunities to direct and write new narratives that blend folklore, fairytales, and ethnographic research to explore the intersection of art and healing. At Columbia, I have found my voice, and now I am ready to tell the tale.

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