Avaaz invites you to meet Roya, our fabulous hostess, as she welcomes you into her home to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. She’s preparing dinner, but the true feast is the story of her life: beginning in Iran as part of that country’s small but ancient Jewish community, her epic journey out of Tehran after the revolution, and the challenges she faces as an immigrant and the single mother of a queer son in "Tehran-geles" (formerly known as Westwood). As a Jew in Iran and an Iranian in America, Roya relies on a heavy dose of humor, both in her storytelling and her survival. Most significantly, Roya is portrayed by her adult son and the author of Avaaz, Michael Shayan, in a solo performance that combines masterful storytelling with a loving tribute.
Written and Performed by
Moritz von Stuelpnagel
In The Press
- The Out 100: Michael Shayan - Out Magazine
Meet the Actor/Playwright
Michael Shayan (he/him) is a queer Iranian-American Jewish writer and performer from “Tehran-geles,” California, next to that kabob shop you love. His play Avaaz received the Sundance Institute’s inaugural Uprise Grant. He developed the play with South Coast Rep, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, La MaMa, and Theatre Aspen, where he won a grant to further its development. His plays have also been developed by Geffen Playhouse, New York Stage & Film, Rattlestick Theater, The Lark Play Development Center, Project Y, Art House, and Dixon Place, among others. He is currently writing Cruising, a new play commission for Audible, premiering in 2024. Shayan will be a Fellow at the Sun Valley Writers Conference in July of this year. He’s received honors from The Kennedy Center and Lambda Literary as an LGBTQ Voices Fellow in Playwriting. Residencies include SPACE on Ryder Farm, Stillwright, La MaMa Umbria, and Lambda Literary. He was a writer and Consulting Producer on the Discovery+ series “The Book of Queer,” and worked on Season 2 of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning “We’re Here.” At 13, he was the youngest performer at the Hollywood Magic Castle. He studied creative writing at Harvard and received his MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, under Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney.