Home Illinois The Assyrian-inspired play highlights the struggles of immigrants

The Assyrian-inspired play highlights the struggles of immigrants


CHICAGO — A play that resurrects the multi-generational story of a family that emigrated from Baghdad to Skokie, Illinois, will now play at a world-renowned theater.

Playwright Martin Youssef Zebari is the youngest of six children who moved to the United States from Iraq when he was still a boy.

As the youngest, Yusif Zebari shares how different he was from how his siblings grew up. He expresses the play as a means of understanding his privilege compared to their wildly different lifestyles.

The show’s main character, Lyall, an older sister, helps raise her siblings and acts as the glue that holds her family together.

“What she imagines would be an easy transition, the new move with her new husband turns out to be more difficult than she imagines,” says Martin.

With the essence of time dividing the action in the play – the story showcases 17 years of exploring the effects of war, family, queer identities through the lens of his Assyrian roots.

“It’s a really special feeling to know that I wrote it, but I still watch the show and think, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen next.’ It’s still a surprise to me when the play unfolds, and I think it’s a testament to this village that we’ve built that brings this story to life.”

Layalina runs at the Goodman Theater through April 2.


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