I call My Brothers

By Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles)
Directed by Abhi Shrestha

January 5 – February 2, 2019 (Chicago Premiere)

Press opening: Monday, January 7, 2019 at 8 pm
Subscriber/Board opening: January 10, 2019 at 8 pm (reception to follow)

Stockholm, Sweden. A car bomb rocks the peaceful city, and leaves the Arab-Swedish Amor on guard and on edge. But he doesn’t have time to let his fear get the best of him; he’s got places to be. As Amor attempts to run his errand and grapple with his own anxieties, we follow him through a fraught 24 hours, cautiously navigating the city he calls home. Balancing paranoia and humor, Jonas Khemiri's nuanced account dares us to question our own perceptions and prejudices, while offering a singular and harrowing take on the labyrinth of global identity politics.


Beginning this season, Interrobang Theatre Project is proud to be in residence at Rivendell Theatre, located at 5779 N Ridge Ave in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Press 

…’I Call My Brothers,’ the potent and compelling new play by the Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri that kicked off the 2019 Chicago theater season at the tiny Rivendell Theatre on Ridge Avenue, focuses on… the tendency, following a terrorist incident, to suspect any person whose facial features suggest an origin in the Middle East…
Khemiri — whose work is translated here by Rachel Willson-Broyles — does not spend his time focusing on the reactions of the wider population, but on Amor himself, who is played by Salar Ardebili. I don’t recall seeing Ardebili’s work before, but he proves here that he is a significant young Chicago talent. His fine performance is reason alone to head out and see this show.
The director of the piece, Abhi Shrestha, is deft with transitions and Shrestha allows the poetic quality within the script to rise and fall, never trying to shove the work into too much of a realistic box.
…the design by Eleanor Kahn is provocative, the work feels fresh and its emotions aptly raw. You walk — or rather run — alongside Amor, sharing his shoes for a while, before you head out in search of a creature comfort.
— Chris Jones (Chicago Tribune)
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…[The] ensemble is wonderful, but it is Shrestha and Ardebili who make the show as intense and powerful as it is. Building on what is already a heightened sense of internalized fear present in the script, Shrestha stages even the chaos of the bombing itself through imaginative use of slow motion and the sparse furniture on the set. She also creates stage pictures that continually reinforce how alone Amor feels. And Ardebili’s provocative performance shows us a man falling apart as he just tries to go through his day, allowing us to get inside and experience his emotional turmoil with him.
The set design, by Eleanor Khan, includes a wall of foil keffiyehs and hijabs, brightly reflecting the reality that a Muslim is instantly recognizable, and lighting designer Michelle E. Benda adds some lovely shadowing and emphasis by the use of a single LED light bar that the actors manipulate. Jeffrey Levin’s sound design is mostly subtle but includes an amplifier with a sampler, allowing us to hear the feedback loops in Amor’s mind. This is a carefully thought-out production…
For ninety minutes, we are able to get inside the head of someone who is persecuted not only by the outer world but by his own reactions to it, and it is harrowing.
— Karen Topham (ChicagoOnStage.com)
…I Call My Brothers is a powerful exploration of interconnection and the effects of internalized racism, particularly after a frightening public act. I left the show with greater empathy and understanding of all the hoops that innocents must jump through, just to peacefully coexist in a society that perceives them as threat, merely by their physical traits or clothing choices. The whole cast is stellar, and the set design, featuring minimalist furniture and a wall of metal keffiyehs and jijabs amplifies the action and perception of both malleability and strength. I love the idea of these symbols of Arab culture recast as something that can be shaped into something else without breaking.

Once again, Interrobang has mounted a thought provoking and timely production, not shying away from the tough stuff endemic to our society, that we all need to examine.

This production is sure to spark some vital discussions and dialogue. What a great springboard for building bridges between diverse communities and working toward erasing racism. Highly recommended.
— Bonnie Kenaz-Mara (ChillLiveShows.com)
In the role of Amor, Salar Ardebili’s frantic narrative on the city streets is a story of racial profiling and prejudice… This is an absorbing drama and a stellar performance by Ardebili, exposing the intersection of actions and memories within Amor’s inner-most thoughts about his own ethnicity…
Eleanor Kahn’s stage design centers on a series of indistinguishable keffiyehs and hijabs representing a vast cross-cultural community that is disturbingly misunderstood , a resonating theme of the work. Heightened by the seamless interweaving of Michelle E. Brenda’s lighting design and Jeffrey Levin’s sound and original music, “I Call My Brothers,” is a stark, riveting, perceptively crafted drama with an enlightening message about global identity and self-awareness
— PicksInSix: Conversations with Ed Tracy

The Artists

CAST

Salar Ardebili (Amor)
Tina El Gamal (Ahlem, Amplifier, Supervisor, Tyra)
Chris Khoshaba (Shavi, Amplifier, Bully, Salesman)
Gloria Imseih Petrelli (Valeria, Amplifier, Bully, Karolina)

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Jonas Hassen Khemiri, playwright
Rachel Willson-Broyles, translator
Abhi Shrestha, director
Georgette Verdin, artistic director

Michelle E. Benda, lighting designer
Elana Elyce, artistic producer
Shawn Galligan, stage manager
Eleanor Kahn, scenic/props design
Jeffrey Levin, composer/sound designer
Nadya Naumaan, dramaturg
Alec Silver, movement dramaturg

Christopher Aaron Knarr, design associate
Matthew Nerber, marketing associate
Nancy Payne, marketing manager
David Rosenberg, press relations
Zoë Verdin, creative design

Emily Schwartz, photographer

CAST BIOS

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SALAR ARDEBILLI, Amor

Salar is a Chicago-based actor and proud ensemble member with Interrobang Theatre Project. He has worked regionally around the country and at many theaters in the Chicago area. In 2017 he received a Jeff Award nomination for his work in The North Pool (Best Actor in a principal role, Interrobang). TV appearances include NBC’s Chicago P.D. and a recurring role on Amazon’s Patriot. He is represented by Shirley Hamilton Inc. For more info, visit www.SalarArdebili.com

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TINA EL GAMAL – Ahlem, Amplifier, Supervisor, Tyra

Tina is a Chicago-based actor, and theatre artist. She is thrilled to be making her Interrobang Theatre Project debut in I Call My Brothers. Tina is a recent graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her BFA in Acting. Her most recent credits include: Cash Cows - A Staged Reading at Artemisia Theatre’s Fall Festival 2018, the world premiere of Through the Elevated Line at Silk Road Rising, and florissant and canfield at UIC Theatre. Tina is represented by NV Talent.

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CHRIS KHOSHABA – Shavi, Amplifier, Bully, Salesman

Chris is honored to be making his debut with Interrobang Theatre Project. He has worked with theatres such as Silk Road Rising (We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War), Rasaka/Vitalist (Merchant of Venice), and has performed at various venues, promoting mental health awareness and disarming stigmas around mental health with Erasing the Distance theatre. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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GLORIA IMSEIH PETRELLI – Valeria, Amplifier, Bully, Karolina

Gloria is absolutely thrilled to be playing Valeria and to be working with the lovely folks at Interrobang Theatre Project for the first time. She was most recently seen in Pegasus Theatre's 31st Young Playwrights Festival and Our Perspective: Asian American Play Readings. Gloria is deeply humbled to have worked on such an important, necessary project with a team committed to telling the stories of our cultures with honesty, tenacity, and vigor. She is so grateful for her partner, friends, and family for the boundless support. Gloria hopes and works for a day where we can all call our brothers and just say hello.

PRODUCTION TEAM

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ABHI SHRESTHA, Director

Abhi is a Chicago-based director, movement dramaturge, and educator originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Working at the intersections of decolonization and queer brown narratives, they are the Education Associate at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Literary Manager and Director of Public Programming for Haven Theater, the Resident Dramaturge and Community Organizer for the Chicago Inclusion Project, and a content curator for Rescripted. They are currently working on exploring a personal history of the world as told by brown grandmas, in a performance installation called The Brown Grandma Project (working title).

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GEORGETTE VERDIN, Managing Artistic Director

GEORGETTE VERDIN has been working with ITP since 2014. She is also a freelance director, theater and speech educator and arts integration specialist. She was the founding theater teacher at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning School in West Humboldt Park, where she taught full-time for eight years. For Interrobang, Georgette directed last season’s Jeff recommended production of GRACE by Craig Wright, season seven’s production of the 2013 Yale Drama Series winner, STILL by Jen Silverman, as well as season six’s KATRINA: MOTHER-IN-LAW OF ‘EM ALL by Rob Florence and the Jeff recommended RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS, also by Craig Wright. Other recent directing credits include Jeff Recommended 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS (Assistant Director, Lookingglass Theatre Company), Jeff Recommended TIME STANDS STILL (AstonRep), PHOEBE IN WINTER (Assistant Director, Facility Theatre) and Goodman’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Assistant Director). Georgette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA and a Master in Directing from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

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JONAS HASSEN KHEMIRI, Playwright

Jonas is a celebrated author and playwright based in Stockholm. His novels have been translated into over 20 languages and his plays have been performed by over a hundred international companies on stages from Stockholm to Berlin to New York to London. Khemiri was awarded a Village Voice Obie Award for his first play Invasion!, which premiered in New York in 2011. His second play God Times Five toured Sweden and his third play The Hundred We Are received the Hedda Award for best play in Norway. Khemiri’s play [Almost Equal To] premiered at Dramaten in Stockholm in October 2014 to rave reviews and has been performed in Germany, Norway, Iceland and the U.S. His play I Call My Brothers began as an essay published in Dagens Nyheter in December 2010, one week after a suicide bombing in central Stockholm that shook the nation. The book was published to great acclaim and later became a lauded play that toured Sweden with Riksteatern in 2013 (directed by Farnaz Arbabi) and premiered in New York in January 2014. It has also been performed in Norway, Denmark, Germany (multiple theatres), Australia, San Francisco, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland and at the Gate Theatre in London, UK.

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RACHEL WILLSON-BROYLES, Translator

Rachel is a freelance translator based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She received her BA from Gustavus Adolphus College and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her other translations include Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s novels Montecore and Everything I Don’t Remember, and plays INVASION! and I Call My Brothers. She has also translated Malin Persson Giolito’s novel Quicksand and Jonas Jonasson’s novels The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old-Man.


MICHELLE E. BENDA, Lighting Design
Michelle is a freelance lighting designer and assistant based in Chicago. Lighting design credits include Everybody (Brown Paper Box Co.), Hamlet (The Gift Theatre), The Gentleman Caller (Raven Theatre), Collage of a Dystopian Midwest, Frankenstein, (Bower Theatre Ensemble), Failure: A Love Story (Illinois Theatre), and Cabaret (No Stakes Theater Project). She has assisted lighting designers at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and TimeLine Theatre Company. Michelle holds an MFA in Lighting Design and Technology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

ELANA ELYCE, Artistic Producer
Elana acts, directs, writes, coaches and produces. She first met Interrobang as a cast member of The Argument in 2012 and subsequently produced Here Lies Henry (2012), Hot N’ Throbbing (2012) and Speaking in Tongues (2013). After a hiatus, she returned to perform with fellow ensemble members in Still (2016) and resumed producer responsibilities for all productions that followed.  Over the last few years, Elana has been seen with The House Theatre of Chicago, first appearing in the acclaimed United Flight 232, which won a Jeff award for best ensemble.  She is now a company member with The House.  Other theaters that have welcomed her in recent years include Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Eclipse, Remy Bummpo, Stage Left & Theatre Seven, and The Yard/Raven Theatre. She is also the Business Manager of The Chicago Inclusion Projectwww.elanaelyce.net

SHAWN GALLIGAN, Stage Manager
With a background in performance, Shawn switched to stage management in 2011. But that's not to say he would balk at being dragged back onstage. He has worked for theatres in Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin, both onstage and backstage. His Interrobang Stage Manager credits include: Speaking in Tongues, Terminus, Really ReallyRecent Tragic Events, and For the Loyal. Shawn spends his summers in Door County, Wisconsin where he is the ASM at Northern Sky Theater. He is a recreational cyclist, bike mechanic, and a lover of board games.

SARAH GISE, Casting Coordinator
Sarah has been a proud ITP company member since February 2015. She graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a BFA in Acting. She was previously seen in Interrobang's Fifth Season productions, Owners and Really Really. She is currently a company member with New American Folk Theatre (Chicago) and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre (Los Angeles), with whom she won the LA Weekly Best Actress award for The Belle of Belfast in 2013. She can be seen at many film festivals around the country in the new film Halfway starring Quinton Aaron from The Blindside, which was awarded Best Feature at the Julian Dubuque International Film Festival. In February 2016, she performed the one-woman show The Amish Project with AtticRep in San Antonio, TX, and shortly after was invited to take the show to the Teatro Potlach FLIPT festival in Rome, Italy. She performed in the Midwest premiere of Still by Jen Silverman with Interrobang at the Athenaeum, followed by the remount of AtticRep's The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey with Interrobang last year.

ELEANOR KAHN, Scenic/Props Design
Eleanor is a freelance designer in Chicago. She most recently designed Borealis (House Theatre of Chicago); The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience); 33 to Nothing (A Red Orchid Theatre); 9 to 5 and LIZZE: The Musical (Firebrand Theatre) and A Story Told in Seven Fights (Neo-Futurists). Other scenic work includes: Machinal (Greenhouse Theatre); Hairy Ape, The Mother, The Jungle and Waiting for Lefty (Oracle Productions); Moon Man Walk (Definition Theatre); Her Majesty's Will (Lifeline Theatre); Into the Empty Sky (Trap Door); What of the Night (Stage Left and Cor Theatre); Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre); The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Solo Celebration); FORTS!, The Van Gogh Cafe, Fog Island, Monster in the Hall, and Lifeboat (Filament Theatre). She also did properties/set dressing for Southern Gothic at Windy City Playhouse and frequently works with The House Theatre and Chicago Childrens’ Theatre as a props designer. Eleanor received her MFA in Scenic Design from Boston University. Her full resume and portfolio can be seen at www.eleanorkahn.com.

JEFFREY LEVIN, Composer/Sound Design
Jeffrey is a composer, sound designer, and musician based in Chicago, Illinois. Jeffrey is happy to be working with Interrobang Theatre for the first time. He has contributed original music and sound designs for over 100 productions for many theaters in and outside of Chicago. Awards and recognitions include eight Joseph Jefferson Award Nominations for Sound Design and Original Music, one Win, Edes Award for Emerging Artists, the Michael Philippi Prize (2016), Kleinman Composition Competition Winner, Chicago Theatre Award (The Hawk Chicago), two Broadway World nominations, and a Wilde Award Nomination. Masters of Music DePaul University and Bachelors of Music Columbia College Chicago. www.jeffreylevinmusic.com

NADYA NAUMAAN, Dramaturg
Nadya is honored to be serving as dramaturg for ITP’s I Call My Brothers. She is also a writer, performer, and director, and ever eager to learn more. Previous work in Chicago includes Victory Gardens’ Lettie (ASM) and Miss Julie (Floor Manager) as well as ATC’s Welcome To Jesus (ASM) and We’re Gonna Be Okay (ASM). Nadya’s upcoming projects include Photograph 51 at Court Theatre (Assistant Director) and Language Rooms with Broken Nose Theatre (Assistant Director). In her spare time, she writes Bus Thoughts: Thoughts I Have On The Bus. Thank you to the generous people who have filled her first year in Chicago with joy! Much love to Abhi for all their light.

ALEC SILVER, Movement Dramaturg
Alec is an actor and movement director from Brattleboro, Vermont. He draws inspiration from international theatre and dance, and looks to create cross-cultural, interdisciplinary work on the American and world stages. This is his first time working with Interrobang Theatre Project. Alec most recently performed in Jackalope Theatre’s Living Newspaper Festival, and Haven Theatre’s Director’s Haven. He is currently playing Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He is represented by Grossman & Jack Talent.

CHRISTOPHER AARON KNARR, Lighting Associate
Christopher Knarr is a South Bend, Indiana native, Chicago transplant, and is currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in Theatre & Drama and a Music minor, and studied abroad with The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland. Recent credits include Interrobang Theatre Project's season eight production of For the Loyal, for which he created original music. For season seven's StillThe Amish Project, and Falling, he was House Manager, Marketing, and Social Media. He was also House Manager/Social Media for the fifth and sixth season, including Really ReallyRecent Tragic Events, and The North Pool, and also was a part of past season productions of Orange Flower Water as a Production Assistant, and TerminusThe Pitchfork Disney, and Ibsen is Dead as Assistant Stage Manager. christopheraaronknarr.com

MATTHEW NERBER, Marketing Associate
Matthew comes to Chicago from Buffalo, New York, where he earned his BFA in theatre performance from SUNY Buffalo. He has been with ITP since 2014's Owners, which he understudied. He also assistant directed the company's production of Katrina: Mother-in-Law of 'Em All and played Andrew in 2016's Recent Tragic Events. Other Chicago credits include Her Naked Skin(Shattered Globe Theatre), Once in a Lifetime (Strawdog Theatre Company), and Assistance (LiveWire Theatre Chicago). Matthew has also assistant directed shows at Collaboraction and Redtwist.      

NANCY PAYNE, Marketing Manager
Nancy comes to ITP to provide marketing support and direction as Marketing Manager. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in strategic communication and business, she has been working in marketing and advertising full-time. As a lifelong theater advocate, she is excited to help promote ITP's mission and upcoming seasons. 

DAVID ROSENBERG, Press Relations

ZOE VERDIN, Creative Design
Zoë provides creative direction for all ITP print and digital marketing, while working as a freelance graphic designer and practitioner of Thai bodywork and trigger point therapy. Zoë has also worked as scenic designer/carpenter, costume designer and muralist on all main stage productions at Polaris Charter Academy since 2011. Her most recent designs include costumes and backdrop for the Academy’s Wiley and the Hairy Man and publicity for Interrobang’s Season Six: Unnatural Disasters. Zoë has a BA in Studio Art from Carleton College, with concentrations in ceramics and photography. Zoë is delighted to be collaborating with Social Media Marketing Guru, Christopher Knarr on publicity for Season Seven’s Flesh & Blood series, and with Ed Anderson on the ITP website.