Studio Series Workshop – Refuge/Malja

Bess Welden’s Refuge/Malja with Arabic translation by Ali Al Mshakheel and directed by Todd Brian Backus.

In Refuge/Malja, Jamie, a fiercely independent Jewish-American photojournalist, calls up an old friend, Ibrahim, in the middle of the night for help and advice. She is used to covering harrowing situations, but when shoeless, motherless Waleed steps in front of her camera lens, she suddenly feels compelled to cross the professional line and assist the young refugee. Now backed into an impossible corner, Jamie needs Ibrahim to translate a message into Arabic, but hesitates to tell him the secret of why she is so drawn to the boy. This decade-spanning drama, written in English and Arabic, explores what it means to truly communicate across languages and cultures as well as within our own families, and how each of us defines and finds our own malja (refuge).

Tickets are free. 


The workshop is generously supported by a joint grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maine Humanities Council.

Following the play there will be a discussion featuring Ali Al Mshakheel discussing his work as a translator and his collaboration with Bess Welden on this new work about cross-cultural exchange and histories.