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Camyar Chai

Camyar Chai was born in Iran and raised there, in England, and in the United States. His family moved to Vancouver in 1980. Chai graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in acting in 1992. Two years later, he founded Neworld Theatre and served as the theatre’s artistic producer until 2007. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of British Columbia in 2007. In addition to writing plays and librettos, Chai is an accomplished actor and theatre director.


The Adventures of Ali & Ali and the Axes of Evil : A Divertimento for Warlords

Co-authors: Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef.
Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2005.
PS8597 .O89 A38 2005

Also published in Performing Back: Post-colonial Canadian Plays, ed. by Dalbir Singh. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2015.
PN56 .P555 P47 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In this elaborate agitprop theatrical collaboration, the internal contradictions and duplicitous double-speak of the “war on terror” are exposed as the propaganda vehicles for the neo-colonialism of the West that they are. “‘Ali Hakim” and “Ali Ababwa,” refugees from the imaginary country “Agraba,” attempt to seduce their audience into providing them with food, refuge, security, freedom and the material benefits of Western consumer society, failing miserably at every step.

Ali & Ali, The Deportation Hearings book cover


Ali & Ali: The Deportation Hearings: A Play

Co-authors: Marcus Youssef and Guillermo Verdecchia.
Vancouver, B.C.: Talonbooks, 2013.
PS8605 .H332 A55 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Following the election of U.S. president Barack Obama in 2008, collective optimism for a more tolerant, peaceful, and co-operative post- Bush world spreads to Canada – and to the backroom of Salim’s Falafel Shoppe in Toronto. There, Ali Hakim and Ali Ababwa, refugee entertainers from the fictitious, war-torn country of Agraba, are inspired to write a stage play in celebration of the new president’s message of “hope and change.” The premiere of their Yo Mama, Osbama! (or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Half-Black President) halts abruptly when an RCMP constable arrives at the theatre and arrests the pair for its financial ties to the Agrabanian People’s Front, an alleged “terrorist organization” on the Canadian government’s watch list.

Continuity becomes more apparent than change when Ali and Ali are swiftly put on trial. As the hapless playwrights try to defend themselves in the farcical deportation hearing that unfolds, racial and cultural stereotypes are invoked – and lampooned – as quickly as dubious evidence is presented. But, in the midst of the biting comedy, more serious questions are raised about the cost for some when we endeavour to protect the “freedoms” of others


Camyar Chai page from the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia

Playwrights Guild of Canada website

Publisher Talonbooks