U.S. Veterans and Refugees Take to the Stage Together in New Haven
A new play premieres Thursday night at the Yale Cabaret that brings together Iraqi and Afghan refugees and U.S. veterans who tell their stories.
Executive producer Tom Berry is a Yale graduate student and a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says the play juxtaposes elements from the experiences of cast members in such a way that people in the audience will have to question their assumptions about veterans, refugees, and war.
“People can carry on next to that veteran, next to that refugee, and have the best of intentions," Berry said. "And allow a world where other people want to call that refugee a terrorist or just say thank you for your service, veteran. You’re a hero.”
Ali Al Saadi is a refugee who faced death threats because he had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. He had to leave his wife and child there when he fled, and he said at first, life in Connecticut was difficult.
"Because if you gonna say, I’m from Middle East. Oh? Middle East. Specify what country you are. I have a lot of people then ask me, why did you kill the Americans? I was like, why you ask me that? Because you are from Iraq," Al Saadi said. "They think like everyone is the same. We cannot just judge someone because his nationality."
The play, called “Voices From the Long War," was created with the help of The Telling Project, a national performing arts nonprofit that has veterans and their families nationwide tell their stories.
This is the first time refugees will add their voices. Performances tonight and tomorrow are sold out, but a third performance has been added next Tuesday. For information, visit: www.brownpapertickets.com.