Play Hard Play Hard

Experience a culture beyond the headlines with “Play Hard Play Hard,” a multicultural art project that combines thought-provoking theatre with global music from the Middle East & beyond. Its mission is to disrupt the traditional conversation around cultures often only discussed in the news. And how does “Play Hard Play Hard” achieve this? It offers a two-part experience: a play and a party.

The play component challenges audiences to engage in complex conversations about cultural identities and realities. In the last production on February April 6th, “Play Hard Play Hard” presented WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT, an exceptional theatrical experiment by the Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour.


After the play, the party did a component of “Play Hard Play Hard,” which kicks off featuring vibrant music by DJs who bring their cultural rhythms and sounds to life. In the April production, the Iranian-American DJ Paniz Farokhnia played Persian classics, adding another layer to the multicultural experience.

“Why did we create Play Hard Play Hard? Because we’re tired of the victimizing language around our communities. There is more to our lives than oppression. Yes, we suffer, hurt, and mourn, but we also heal, dance, and sing.”

Ece Hakim, the Artistic Director of Play Hard Play Hard

As the Creative Director of Play Hard Play Hard, “Ece Hakim,” an actor and producer from Turkey currently based in Los Angeles, wants to challenge the traditional conversations around cultures often only discussed in the news. Through Play Hard Play Hard, she aims to offer an immersive experience that invites audiences to experience cultures beyond the headlines.
The event that prompted the idea of “Play Hard Play Hard” was the terrorist attack in Istanbul, in Ece’s hometown, a couple of months ago.

I received the news while having breakfast with a friend and immediately called my mother to ensure my family was safe. Thankfully, they were. But the constant check-ins from friends and colleagues made me think about the context in which my country’s name is often mentioned: financial crisis, political oppression, and terrorist attacks.
It was then that I realized that the only stories about my country that make it to the news are heartbreaking, and this is not unique to Turkey. Countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Sudan, Peru, Chile, and Mexico are often only mentioned in the context of catastrophe, war, and oppression.
Play Hard Play Hard was an attempt to change that narrative by showcasing these cultures’ beauty, richness, and complexity.
And how did we achieve this? By offering a two-part experience: a play and a party. The play component challenged audiences to join the conversation, not just observe it, through a play that tackled complex issues about cultural identities and realities. And after the play, the party component started with vibrant music from DJs who brought their cultural rhythms and sounds to life, creating a unique and unforgettable experience.
Play Hard Play Hard was a reminder that while suffering and pain are universal experiences, so are healing, dancing, and singing. As the Artistic Director, it was my honor to begin the “Play Hard Play Hard” journey with Nassim Soleimanpour’s “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” a play that embodied the essence of Play Hard Play Hard’s mission.”

Ece Hakim