CRIMINAL QUEERNESS FESTIVAL
JUNE 22-26 2021
By Martin Yousif Zebari
Staged Reading Directed By Sivan Battat
In 2003, newlywed Layal plans a future with her family as they make plans to immigrate to the U.S. from Baghdad. 18 years later, just outside of Chicago, Layal’s life and responsibilities look unimaginably different from what she had envisioned two decades before. Martin Yousif Zebari’s surprising new play examines how families maintain their love in the midst of turbulent global and social change.
Martin Yousif Zebari (he/they) is an Iraqi-born, Assyrian-American, actor and writer based in Chicago. Layalina, his first play, had its first developmental workshop at Goodman Theatre’s inaugural Future Labs, directed by Azar Kazemi. As an Actor, he has worked with National Queer Theatre, The Angle Project, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Court Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival and has appeared in NBC’s Chicago Med. Martin holds a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.
Sivan Battat (she/her) is an Iraqi-Jewish theatre director, cultural worker, and educator who has developed and directed work with Ars Nova, the Atlantic, NYTW, Corkscrew, and more. As an assistant and associate, she has worked with directors including Sam Gold, Rebecca Taichman, Neil Pepe, GT Upchurch and David Muse. Upcoming projects include Noam Shuster’s COEXISTENCE MY ASS (Harvard/National Tour), Amahl Khouri’s SHE HE ME (National Queer Theater at Dixon Place). Sivan works frequently with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and recently creative directed JFREJ Mimouna. She also leads ancestral storytelling workshops within various queer and SWANA communities. She completed the Dorot Fellowship, studying Mizrahi Feminisms and Arabic, and organizing for justice in Israel-Palestine. Sivan is the 2020-2021 Roundabout Directing Fellow, and the 2021 Drama League Leo Shull Musical Directing Fellow. BA Wesleyan.