Basel Zaraa

Dear Laila // Interactive Installation


War und childhood

Thu 06/13/24 | 4:00–8:00 pm 
Fri 06/14/24 | 4:00–8:00 pm 
Sat 06/15/24 | 4:00–8:00 pm 
Sun 06/16/24 | 4:00–8:00 pm

The interactive installation can be experienced by one person at a time for a period of 15 minutes. Admission every 20 minutes. You can choose between German and English. Registration is requested.

"Dear Laila, you're five years old now and you've started asking me where I grew up and why we can't go there. With this I try to give you an answer."

Basel Zaraa is a Palestinian artist living in Birmingham. He devolped the idea for DEAR LAILA when his five-year-old daughter started asking him about places from his childhood. Unable to take her there, he decided to bring the place to her by constructing a model of his childhood home in the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus.

DEAR LAILA tells the Palestinian experience of displacement and resistance through a family story and explores how war and exile are experienced in everyday life, in the domestic environment and in public spaces.

It is an intimate, interactive installation that can be experienced by one person at a time. DEAR LAILA shares memories and connects them with details to bring this already destroyed place back to life. The audience is invited to put themselves in Laila's perspective and discover objects, photos, sounds and smells that tell the story of her family over generations. 

"This intimate artwork challenges the notion of camps of displaced people as a kind of purgatory and shows that they are physical places where people are born, die, live and love – where they also renovate and breed pigeons. A place of refuge can be the subject of nostalgia – and, as was traumatically the case in Yarmouk when civil war broke out in Syria: a place from which a family can be driven away again."

- J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail, Canada 

A performance by Basel Zaraa

Translation and scripteditor Emily Churchill Zaraa
Sound engineering Pete Churchill

Commissioned by Good Chance Theatre with the support of Art Council England 
“Dear Laila” has been shown at more than 15 festivals and venues and translated into six languages. 
Winner of the ZKB Prize Audience Award 2023