In an Iraq beset by decades of war and occupation, Jawad faces a difficult choice. Must he follow in his father’s footsteps washing the bodies of the dead—an honored Muslim tradition—or can he pursue his dreams of being an artist? Adapted from Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon’s award-winning novel, The Corpse Washer is a haunting portrait of a young man coming of age and a society’s fight for survival, in a country where life and death are inextricably intertwined.

Audience advisory: Contains strong language and discussion of war violence.
Age recommendation: 16+

adapted for the stage by Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace
from the novel of the same name by Sinan Antoon
directed by Mark Brokaw
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

The Corpse Washer was developed with support from New York Theatre Workshop.

Naomi Wallace’s plays―produced in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Middle East―include One Flea Spare, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours, The Fever Chart, And I and Silence, Night is a Room and Returning to Haifa (adapted with Ismail Khalidi). In 2009, One Flea Spare was incorporated into the permanent repertoire of the French National Theatre, the Comédie-Française. Only two American playwrights have been added to the Comédie’s repertoire in 300 years. Awards: MacArthur Fellowship, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award and the Horton Foote Prize. Wallace received the inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize in drama and an Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Ismail Khalidi’s plays include Truth Serum Blues (Pangea World Theater, 2005), Tennis in Nablus (Alliance Theatre, 2010), Foot (Teatro Amal, 2016), Sabra Falling (Pangea World Theater, 2017), an adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa (with Naomi Wallace, Finborough Theatre, 2018) and Dead Are My People (Noor Theatre, 2018). His writing has appeared in numerous anthologies as well as The Nation, Mizna, Guernica, American Theatre and Remezcla. Khalidi co-edited (also with Naomi Wallace) Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015). Khalidi has received commissions from The Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Noor Theatre and Pangea World Theater. He is currently a visiting artist with Teatro Amal in Chile, and holds an M.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

 Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace’s commission to adapt The Corpse Washer has been generously underwritten by Jacqueline R. and Theodore S. Rosky as part of the Les Waters New Works Fund.

MARCH 1 – APRIL 7, 2019

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