thank you all for a beautiful run of

the birth of paper

by RealTime Interventions

with Milia Ayache 

Beirut partner: Rusted Radishes Beirut Literary & Art Journal

Pittsburgh partners: Handmade ArcadeCity of Asylum and Scribe Fine Papers

jun 24-29, 2021

produced in pittsburgh, pennsylvania

performed live from beirut, lebanon

viewed across the world

“the smell of pine trees. a tiny light. a living letter in a bottle seeks you in a sea of chaos.”

more about the project

Begun as an adaptation of a “distance play” Molly wrote in 2003, The Birth of Paper became a transcontinental “engine of connection” involving over 60 pen pals, makers, artists, and volunteers in Beirut and Pittsburgh.

The project began with a transcontinental letter exchange between strangers; continued with the creation, packing and mailing of “gift packages” made by Pittsburgh artisans for the people of Beirut (packed by Pittsburgh volunteers); and ended with a series of live shows centering on this mutual transmission of goods and goodwill among potential friends.

In the shows, Beirutis living the fallout of the August 2020 Port of Beirut explosion and the ongoing political and economic freefall opened their gift packages in real time, while actor/musician Milia Ayache performed the role of the “paper” upon which Molly wrote her love letter to Beirut.

The show was joyous, heartbreaking, intensely intimate, full of love– and a celebration of paper, ink, and the postal service as an ancient, global technology of connection.

our birth of paper team

Cast & Crew:

Milia Ayache, Performer

Molly Rice, Playwright/Producer

Rusty Thelin, Director/Producer

Emma Wagner DeFrange, Production Manager

Nate Kelly, Digital Stage Manager/Production Intern

Milia & Maya Ayache, Beirut Production Team

Allie Reefer, Marketing Consultant

Sequoia Marriott, Marketing/ Admin Assistant

Erikah Cudjoe, Social Media/Production Intern


Katy DeMent, Seed-Paper & Tree-Pencil Artist

Amy Garbark, Candle Artist

Melanie Marshall, Envelope Artist

Sara Hargreaves, Fine Paper Pad Maker


City of Asylum

Handmade Arcade

Scribe Fine Papers

Rusted Radishes

Letter Writers:

Pittsburgh / Beirut:

Hazel Leroy / Adib Rahhal        

Ethan Heffley / Betty Gobna

Adil Monsoor / Natasha Gasparian

Tereneh Idia / Amina Hassan

Divya Rao Heffley / Perla Kantarjian

Leeann Younger / Romy-Lynn Attieh

Sequoia Marriott / Suha Zreik

Caitlyn Mayernick / Maya Ayache

Nate Kelly / Sarine Sahakian

Haida Bakhshi / Lina Mounzer

Emmanuelle Wambach / Sari Nuwayhid

Rusty Thelin / Serouj Hakissian

Elizabeth Ringler-Jayanti / Noha Khalife

Erikah Cudjoe / Grace Mouannes

City of Asylum Volunteers

Hannah Clark, Jane Graille, Emily Mattern, Gloria Mou, Leah Picker, Blain Schiff, Anne Schwan, Bill Steen, Susan Steen, Celeste Vitunic

Special Thanks: 

Abby Lembersky, Tricia Brancolini-Foley, Rima Rantisi, Khalil Zeigler, John Hempel, Geoff Hurd, Alexis Jabour, Chelsea Sutton, Elsa Lepecki Bean, Squirrel Hill FedEx, and the RealTime Board (Becky Johnson, Brooke Mullin, Kheir Mugwaneza, Divya Rao Heffley & Melanie Marshall)

RealTime Interventions’ “The Birth of Paper” Now OpenEntertainment Central

The Birth of Paper: Interview with Playwright Molly Rice – HVY Journalists

Science or Magic?”: A Review of The Birth of Paper – Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal