“My Home is a Suitcase” is a play by Rzgar Hama about individuals who sought new lives as immigrants. It is based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. These are real stories. The next few interviews will be from some of the individual readers of their stories of beginning new lives in Canadian society. Hama is known for several plays, including “Soldierland” with some professional commentary by Dr. Marvin Westwood and Dr. George Belliveau of The University of British Columbia in “Dr. Marvin Westwood & Dr. George Belliveau on SOLDIERLAND a play Written and Directed by Rzgar Hama.” Here I speak with Shaima on “My Home is a Suitcase.”
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become involved with “My Home is a Suitcase”?
Shaima Jaff: I was trying to recruit for “My Home is a Suitcase.” Then asked a lot of questions about the project, Rzgar explained to me. I asked, “Can I attend?” Because I came here as a refugee telling my story to others.
Jacobsen: What was the experience of telling the story – without telling your story – to some of the public and peers who made a new life for themselves?
Jaff: In the first part of the project, we told our story, directly. I felt good talking about my struggles before coming to my new home, Canada, and what I achieved here. Also, my goals for the future.
Jacobsen: What was working with a seasoned, veteran playwright and director like for you?
Jaff: Writing was not new to me. I was a journalist back home, writing a short story and poems. Writing about my real life, it was different and difficult. Because of my emotions and feelings, it was just for me, in this project, by sharing it with others; it opened a new door for me. In my culture, we keep most of the things in secret. We do not talk about our life in public. During the practice, by writing and acting, I was thinking, “What should I share? Should I tell the truth?” I wasn’t comfortable telling my story.
Jacobsen: What are you hoping some of the audience takes home with them when the final production comes out?
Jaff: Good question 🙂 How strong I am, to understand our struggles. Sometimes, I hear bad and harmful comments here in Canada about refugees and where I came from. As if I have a choice where I want to be born, what name and colour I might want, life was different.
I have a second chance to have a country to be proud of: Canada let me live my dream. As a Kurdish, I don’t belong to anywhere. We are everywhere.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Shaima.
Jaff: I really appreciate your great support. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my experiences about “My Home is a Suitcase.”
Image Credit: Soran Mardookhi, and Rzgar Hama/Sky Theatre Group.