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JUNE 22-26 2021


By Martin Yousif Zebari
Staged Reading Directed By Sivan Battat

Starring: Louis Sallan, Layan Elwazani, Waseem Alzer, Gloria Imseih Petrelli, Samy Figaredo, and Mariam Bazeed

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. 

MartinZ Photo.JPG
Sivan Battat Director - She_He_Me 6_21_2

Sivan Battat (she/they) 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.

Louis061final-2--resized - Louis Sallan.

as Yasir/Mazin

Louis Sallan (he/him) is an Iraqi American actor and dialect/acting coach who has his BA from Western Michigan University and an MFA from NYU Graduate Acting. Some of his theatre credits are: Romeo and Juliet at Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Tybalt, Oslo at Northern Stage; Hassan, The Invisible Hand at Cleveland Playhouse; Bashir, The Mecca Tales at The Sheen Center; Reza, The Strangest at New York Theatre Workshop; Nounu, Oklahoma at Arrow Rock Lyceum; Ali Hakim. Quarantine work: She He Me at my bedroom; Omar TV/Film Credits: Blue Bloods,The Blacklist, The Blacklist: Redemption and Madame Secretary.

Layan Elwazani Headshot - Layan Elwazani

as Karima/Layal

Layan (she/her) is an actor, writer, and director based in New York City. She is dedicated to the generation of new work as an act of resistance. Her favorite work asks questions about justice, belonging, and community. Some of her stage credits include The Band’s Visit on Broadway, Noura at The Guthrie, We Live in Cairo at American Repertory Theatre, and Yasmina’s Necklace at Premiere Stages. On screen, she’s most recently appeared in The Code on CBS, and in the indie film Boxed In. She is a proud Palestinian-American, and a self proclaimed “ferocious empath.” / @LayanElwazani

GloriaImseihPetrelliHeadshot - Gloria Im

as Layal/Marwa

Gloria Imseih Petrelli (she/her) is a Chicago-born and based actor, organizer, teacher, and writer. She can be found making plays with theatres such as The Neighborhood, The Gift, Interrobang, and during the pandemic, Steppenwolf, The Goodman and the Kennedy Center or organizing as the Co-Chair of the US Palestinian Community Network. She is proudly represented by Paonessa Talent.

A317E7D8-2881-4BC6-98A1-1778B1E4B5AC - W

as Sahar/Amin

Free Palestine. (he/him).

SAMYFIGS 2020 Headshot 1 (WEB) - samy no

as Mazin/Yousif

Samy Figaredo (he/him & they/them) is a proud multi-hyphenate: Lebanese-American, Puerto Rican, actor, activist, aerialist, consultant, pianist, public speaker, puppeteer, singer, and more. Theatrical credits include "Into the Woods" (Ford's Theater), "The Triumphant" and "Pay No Attention to the Girl" (Target Margin Theater), and "Well-intentioned White People" (Barrington Stage Company). Samy is also an Inclusivity Trainer for the Ackerman Institute's Gender & Family Project; and a Speaker for Collaborate Consulting. Online, Samy is best known for their TED talk on the importance of transgender history. In all their endeavors, Samy aims to highlight the diversity of the trans experience: not just their struggles, but also their triumphs.

Mariam _ The Center for Fiction - Mariam

Stage Directions

Mariam Bazeed (they/them) is an Egyptian immigrant, writer, spoken word artist, performer, and cook living in a rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn. An alliteration-leaning writer of prose, poetry, plays, and personal essays, Mariam received an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College.They are currently at work on their second play, faggy faafi Cairo boy; and with poet Kamelya Omayma Youssef and Detroit-based ensemble, A Host of People, on Kilo Batra: In Death More Radiant, a play written partially in verse and two languages, premiering in late 2021 at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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