YussefEl Guindi

playwright, writer

Yussef El Guindi

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Playwright and writer Yussef El Guindi is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through his artistic lens.

Q&A with Yussef El Guindi

As a Cairo native, how do you find the Seattle weather?

I love the gray! I love the drizzle, the clouds. Clear blue skies bore me to tears.

Your plays are often immigrant stories. How does that fit with living in Seattle?

Seattle wasn’t established until the 1850s—that’s nothing! Unless you’re Native American, everybody here basically just got here. Immigrants like me have a sense of being on the edge. So it makes sense to venture here, to the edge of the continent.

What neighborhoods do you hang out in?

I live on Capitol Hill, so I go to the Broadway Farmer’s Market, or walk through Cal Anderson Park—it has a nice vibe, people walking dogs and playing bike polo on the tennis courts. Seattle has burst out of its small-town clothes but it’s still a place where people hang out in coffee shops. I like Little Oddfellows at Elliott Bay Bookstore, Caffe Vita and Victrola.

Which tourist activities do you think are worth doing?

On a warm, sunny day, it’s great to go to the International Fountain at Seattle Center, where the music is playing and people are splashing around—I’ve never gone in but I will some day. I also point visitors to the Space Needle. Going up at night is really nice for a different kind of view. And of course you have to take a ferry—anywhere, just take a ferry.

Do you have favorite places to see theater in Seattle?

I like ACT Theater and 12th Avenue Arts. For smaller-scale productions I like West of Lenin and Theater Schmeater, and for unique, off-kilter visions, I go to tiny Annex Theater. I’ve been seeing plays here for 23 years, and what I absorb is the audience reaction—if you’re paying attention, it affects your writing. Seattle audiences have a generosity of spirit and a “why not?” openness.

What keeps you from moving to a “theater town” like NYC?

The environment: the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier. In New York City people are always saying they need to “get away.” Here, I never feel like that. Seattle is the getaway place.


Interview by Brangien Davis.

Photo taken at Broadway Farmers Market, Capitol Hill.


Playwright Yussef El Guindi talks to Seattle public television station KCTS about his plays and writing stories of immigrant experiences. “I’ve been and immigrant since the age of three,” says El Guindi. “Even returning back to Cairo, I felt slightly like a foreigner there.”



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