Iraqi playwright to discuss his play, 'Baghdad Wedding'

Scientist and playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak, a Mellon Learning Associate at Bates College, will discuss his critically acclaimed play, Baghdad Wedding, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

“It’s a rare opportunity to hear about the war in Iraq from the perspective of a British Iraqi,” says Christina Malcolmson, professor of English.

Abdulrazzak, a biologist doing stem-cell research at the Royal Veterinary College, north of London, became a first-time playwright with Baghdad Wedding, a big hit at London’s Soho Theatre during summer 2007. Praised by London drama critics, Baghdad Wedding was called “‘hot theatre,” by the Evening Standard and “undoubtedly an important, topical play…superbly entertaining,” by the Telegraph. The Times praised the author’s “distinctive voice and special authority,” while the Evening Standard nominated Abdulrazzak for best new playwright of 2007.

Abdulrazzak’s family left Iraq when he was 8 to escape the regime of Saddam Hussein. In the play, he depicts the consternation of westernized Iraqi medical students in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the Iraq War; their horror when a wedding party for one of their friends in Iraq is bombed by mistake by the Americans; and the different ways their commitments to Islam and Iraq develop as a result.

The plot alludes to ethnic wedding movies, like Monsoon Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but with a twist. Funny and clever throughout, the play immerses the audience in the political situation to educate Western audiences about the Iraqi middle classes. As Abdulrazzak told Time Magazine, “What I wanted to do was flag what I know about Iraq. It’s now being seen as a religiously crazed country…I wanted to show the middle-class segment that people could relate to.”

The Chase Lounge talk includes filmed extracts from the performance at the Soho Theatre. Abdulrazzak’s visit is sponsored by the Mellon Learning Associates, the College Lectures Committee and the Department of English.

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