World Premiere of Homes: A Refugee Story Opens at the Grand Theatre
Written by Winnie Yeung and Haysam Kadri
Adapted from the book by Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung
Directed by Haysam Kadri
On the Auburn Stage
February 21 – March 5, 2023
February 16, 2023 – London ON – What is it like to live through a civil war? This is the question that audiences will experience first-hand at the world premiere of Homes: A Refugee Story – playing on the Grand Theatre’s Auburn Stage February 21st through March 5th. The one-person play is led by award-winning director, Haysam Kadri, and stars Lebanese-Canadian film, television, and stage actor, Nabil Traboulsi. Adapted from Winnie Yeung and Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah’s 2018 award-winning novel of the same name, Homes tells the remarkable true story of the Al Rabeeah family and their harrowing journey in finding a safe place to call home.
“I will never forget first reading Homes: A Refugee Story and being so completely engrossed that, as soon as I finished it, I immediately reached out to Winnie Yeung,” recalls Grand Theatre Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum. “Six months later, I was having lunch with this extraordinary teacher and author in Edmonton and humbly suggesting that this would make a very powerful play. And here we are, three years later, watching this world premiere stage adaptation emerge on the Auburn Stage. I can’t wait for Londoners to become deeply immersed into this inspirational production, while also gaining new knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a newcomer in Canada.”
Homes: A Refugee Story tells the remarkable true story of the Al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. In a twist of fate, they moved to Homs, in Syria, just before the Syrian civil war broke out. With violence erupting around the family, they know that they must escape their life in Homs to seek refuge in the safety of the Canadian borders. The heart-wrenching solo show is told from the perspective of the young Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah, who recounts his years in Syria and the juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by soccer, cousins, video games, and the love of friends and family.
Starring as Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah in Homes: A Refugee Story is Nabil Traboulsi, who makes his Grand Theatre debut. Fluent in English, French and Arabic, Traboulsi has acted across the globe in theatre, film, and television – most recently in FOX Television’s Accused and Sony Picture’s The Boys. Taking the helm as director is Haysam Kadri, who previously directed the Grand’s 2018 production of A Thousand Splendid Suns and appeared as Steve Hubbell in the Theatre’s 2005 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Joining him as Assistant Director is Alexandra Rizkallah – an up-and-coming director – currently completing her undergraduate degree in Biology and Theatre at Western University.
Corwin Ferguson also makes his Grand Theatre debut as Projection and Set Designer for Homes: A Refugee Story. The experienced designer has created an imaginative set through highly realistic, state-of-the-art projections, powered by AI technology, which will be displayed on three walls of the Auburn Stage to present a fully-immersed audience experience.
Homes: A Refugee Story was commissioned by the Grand’s COMPASS New Play Development Program, dedicated to creating and premiering new work on the Grand’s stages. The play began development in 2020, when Grand Theatre Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum approached author Winnie Yeung to encourage her to adapt her award-winning novel for the stage. At her approval, Garnhum then connected Yeung with director, actor, and instructor, Haysam Kadri to co-write the play. Casting for the play was complete in July 2022, and rehearsals began in January 2023.
The novel Homes: A Refugee Story was originally created by Edmonton secondary school teacher and author, Winnie Yeung and her former student, Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah. The true story is based on the true life of Al Rabeeah and brought to life on the page through Yeung. After being published in 2018, the book went on to win the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction and was named the Alberta Book Publisher 2019 Nonfiction Book of the Year. It was also a finalist on Canada Reads 2019 and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. The book is currently being adapted into a graphic novel, to be released in late 2023.
Homes: A Refugee Story is on the Auburn Stage from February 21st through March 5th, 2023. Tickets are $45 and are available at www.grandtheatre.com, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street.
The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges the continued support of the 2022/23 returning Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group.
To learn more about Homes: A Refugee Story, please visit: grandtheatre.com/event/homes-refugee-story. Additional facts, photos, and updates can also be found by following @thegrandlondon and #GrandHomes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Grand Theatre wishes to acknowledge and honour the original stewards of the land on which our Theatre stands. Gratitude and recognition are extended to the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapewak peoples for preserving this land where we gather and create art.
About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.
In the heart of downtown London, Ontario lies one of Canada’s oldest regional theatres and a leading cultural hub of today: the Grand Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Evan Klassen, the Grand proudly presents diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe – and around the corner – on its two stages. The not-for-profit theatre is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. Further, it is an ardent supporter of educational programming, as demonstrated through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees. For more information, visit: grandtheatre.com.
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For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
ccore [at] grandtheatre.com
519-672-9030 ext. 266
When: Tuesday, February 21 at 1:00 p.m. (Cameras, please arrive at 12:30 p.m. to set up)
Where: Auburn Stage, Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond Street, London, Ontario
What: Homes: A Refugee Story photo, video, and interview opportunities for media
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Haysam Kadri - Director/Co-Playwright
Alex Rizkallah - Assistant Director
Corwin Ferguson - Projection/Set Designer
Lisa Wright - Costume Designer
Siobhan Sleath - Lighting Designer
Jordan Lloyd Watkins - Sound Designer
Suzanne McArthur - Stage Manager
Caitlin Mears - Apprentice Stage Manager