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A café in Baghdad... Let Freedom Reign!

10 August 2005

- 2 kiwis, 2 americans, 2 iraqis, a café in Baghdad... Let Freedom Reign!

Dean Parker's important new NZ play 'Baghdad, Baby!', directed by Jean Betts, opened last week at BATS Theatre, and continues until August 27th. This play blends political conscience with comedy, and personal transformation with the epic scale of world events, played out on the most detailed and ornate set we've seen at BATS for some years. Bookings are strong, so it's a good idea to make a date now to spend the evening in a Baghdad café (this show is likely to book out for its final week's performances, so don't leave it too late!).

Quotes and full information on the show follows below...

The season runs from Thursday 4th - Saturday 27th August, 8pm each night (no performances Sundays or Mondays). Tickets are $18 full / $12 concession or groups of 8 or more. Book by phone (04) 802 4175 or email

Best wishes from the BATS team! ******************************************* BATS Theatre 1 Kent Terrace Wellington, Aotearoa office 802 4176 fax 802 4010

bookings 802 4175, ŒBaghdad, Baby!' by Dean Parker (NZ) 4-27 August, 8pm (no shows Sun/Mon) ********************************************

Let Freedom Reign

Baghdad, Baby!

A new play by Dean Parker

Directed by Jean Betts

"Welcome to Baghdad, old Mesopotamia! Before Rome, before Greece, before Egypt, there was--Mesopotamia! Here-the Garden of Eden! the Tigris! the Euphrates! Baghdad, cradle of civilization! Where the fish from the river Tigris give off a strange chemical smell!" Shirin Saifi, cafe owner and belly dancer (Ban Abdul)

An exotic tragi-comic epic with romantic overtones, Baghdad, Baby! is a perfect balance of humour, politics, broken hearts and outrage. It's also a play which rattles all certainties. Very few will leave without feeling that their personal beliefs have been challenged, whatever their convictions.

This is a play about people, our common humanity; how, when faced with violence and our need for love and security, we all want the same fundamental things. It argues provocatively for tolerance, compassion and humanity, without ever losing its sense of humour, without ever allowing its complex characters to become mouthpieces, and without ever dropping the 'entertainment' ball. "

The central character was based on a New Zealander who'd set up his reconstruction business in Iraq. I added an American soldier and two Iraqis, and set it a café in Baghdad ... lo!--a friend sent me an account of a wandering New Zealand back-packer released from jail in Iraq where he'd been innocently taking in the sights Š" Dean Parker on creating Baghdad, Baby!

Superb Iraqi actress and dancer Ban Abdul (Disco Pigs, Top Girls), is joined by an impressive cast - including Michael Wilson (Dark Knight, Send a Gorilla), Matthew Saville (Vincent in Brixton, The Boxer), Charlie Bleakley (Scarfies, Saving Grace), Andrew Smith (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing) and Kate Prior (Penumbra, Beauty and the Beast); directed by Jean Betts (Gagarin Way, The Collective). "All ruling classes claim that their conquests are for the good of the natives and it's never the truth. In this case, the occupation had nothing at all to do with the needs or interests of the Iraqi people." Dean Parker

"My family and I spent a lot of our summers in Baghdad as a child, where my extended family still lives. Still with me today are the memories I have of days spent with my cousins, aunties, and uncles, lazing on the swing chair in our garden, running and playing in our streets in the glorious dry heat Š of the city itself so ancient and beautiful, of our family home so full of warmth, food and love, of my family all together and our laughter.

I am blessed and saddened everyday. Blessed because we didn't move there as was intended, and saddened because my family is still there, and I hear about what they have gone through and what they still go through everyday." Iraqi actor Ban Abdul on her memories of Baghdad

"At last! A war to finish being between everything we love and everything we hate! Fine! Bring it on! " Lieutenant Kilroy, from Lincoln Arkansas. (Matt Saville) Baghdad, Baby! By Dean Parker Dates: Thurs 4 August ­ Sat 27 August ($10 preview Wed 3 Aug) Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, City Time: 8pm Tickets: $18 Full, $12 Conc. and groups of 8+ Bookings: 04 802 4175,

* * * * * * * * * * * BATS THEATRE 1 Kent Tce Wellington Aotearoa-New Zealand bookings 04 802 4175 office 04 802 4176 fax 04 802 4010


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