Oakton professor wins Jeff Award

Fakhrid-Deen teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Oakton.

Des Plaines, Ill. (March 30, 2023) – Oakton College Professor Tina Fakhrid-Deen is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Jeff Award for her play, “Pulled Punches” — Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre (MPAACT). “Pulled Punches” was awarded in the New Work, Non-Equity theater category.

The Jeff Awards celebrate the vitality of Chicago area theater with its recommendations, awards, and honors. It is one of the country's most active and engaged theater awards organizations, evaluating hundreds of theatrical productions annually and holding two awards ceremonies highlighting work over the past Equity and Non-Equity seasons. The Non-Equity Wing was established in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre.

“I'm incredibly grateful to win a Jeff Award,” said Fakhrid-Deen, Professor of English. “This process has reinforced that years of hard work and sacrifices do pay off. I want to continue using what I've learned as a professional writer to support my students. I hope this helps inspire them to remain steadfast toward their hopes and dreams.”

“Pulled Punches” was developed through the Women’s Theatre Alliance of Chicago and premiered in 2022 at the Greenhouse Theater. The play has captivated audiences and yielded several critical honors.

On an express train home to watch “Scandal,” Isis gets all the elements of her favorite show – drama, passion, and heart-stopping suspense when she collides into a professor who dares to swirl into her orbit and take her breath away.

A heady mix of Amiri Baraka’s “The Dutchman” and the myth of Isis and the seven scorpions, “Pulled Punches,” investigates identity politics in the age of being woke and well-intentioned. The play asks the audience questions, including “how long should we pull punches before we let them fly?” and “does that choice promote true connection, violence, insanity or freedom?”

“I wrote ‘Pulled Punches’ to ask questions and continue a discussion about race relations in America. In what effective ways can we fight against and dismantle white supremacy? In what ways can we be our authentic selves and toss the mask? How can we go beyond marches, anti-racism talks, and DEI trainings? And what role do well-meaning liberal whites have in this fight and the dismantling of the structures that uphold them?” said Fakhrid-Deen.

“Talking about race is uncomfortable, but we must do it. Theater has a way of forcing difficult conversations in beautifully uncomfortable yet safe ways. The truth is paramount, and using our collective voices for justice is one of the most powerful things we can do,” she added.

Fakhrid-Deen teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Oakton. In 2018, she won Oakton’s Ray Hartstein Award for Outstanding Professional Excellence in Teaching for a full-time faculty member. Also in 2018, Oakton produced her “Powerless Gods” play, which was a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwright Festival (2019) and O’Neil Playwriting Conference (2016/2018). This semester, Fakhrid-Deen is in Seville, Spain, serving as resident director for the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs (ICISP) semester study abroad program.

Studying English at Oakton College is about discovering new perspectives and digging into books beyond just the "classics" you had to get through in high school. Instead, experience new classics and boundary-pushing art created by authors from diverse backgrounds: African, African-American, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, Asian-American, LGBTQIA2+, and more. You can focus your studies on the topics and areas that inspire you the most, including composition, poetry, playwriting, and podcast writing. Check out the course catalog for a complete list of currently available courses at Oakton.