CHICAGO — A play that awakens the story of a multigenerational family emigrating from Baghdad to Skokie, Illinois will now be playing at a world-renowned theater.
The playwright, Martin Yousif Zebari, is a the youngest of six kids who moved to the United States from Iraq when he was just a boy.
Being the youngest, Yousif Zebari shares how distinct his experiences were from of his siblings growing up. He expresses the play as a means of understanding his privilege compared to their wildly different lifestyles.
The protagonist of the show, Layal, is an older sister who helps raise her siblings and acts as the glue that keeps her family together.
“What she imagines would be an easy transition and new move with her new husband becomes more complicated than she imagines,” Martin says.
With the essence of time separating the play’s acts – the story showcases 17 years of exploring the effects of war, family, queer identities, all through the lens of his Assyrian roots.
“It’s a really special feeling to know that I wrote this but I still find myself watching the show and being like ‘I don’t know what happens next. It’s still a surprise to me when the play unfolds and I think that’s a testament to this village that we’ve built that is bringing this story to life.”
Layalina runs at the Goodman Theatre through April 2.