Amphibian Stage’s production of “Baba” features the collaboration of Ahmad Kamal and Savannah Yasmine Elayyach, who play father and daughter roles, respectively. Their performance is so convincing that the audience comments on their relationship after the show. “Baba” is a comedy written by Denmo Ibrahim that initially envisioned a single actor portraying both parts, but when Amphibian Stage decided to produce the play, they split the roles, director Hamid Dehghani said.
The play examines a family’s immigration journey and the meaning of home, and Amphibian Stage wanted to have a full production of the show, highlighting its potential. The production compares the father-daughter relationship to the recent Oscar-nominated film “Aftersun,” combining the immigration storyline and magical realism of “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” the film that won seven Academy Awards.
Kamal plays the role of dad, Mohammed, in Arabic, which the actor cherishes, as he primarily operates in the Washington, DC area, giving him the opportunity to use the Arabic language in this production. Elayyach portrays daughter Layla, who is trying to reconnect with her family roots thirty years later. It’s a subject matter that hits hard on Elayyach, who is a first-generation American and carries the responsibility of being the eldest child in her family.
Kamal points out that the play is the first time he’s played an Arab American on stage. “I’ve been acting for a long time, and this is the first time I’ve had the privilege of auditioning not only for an Arab show but also one I relate to deeply,” Elayyach said.
Beyond its compelling storyline, the play touches upon important themes like the sacrifices of immigrant parents and their willingness to move around the world for the safety and security of their children. Dehghani believes “What this comedy does beautifully is humanize people,” a sentiment that the audience shares. After the show, many audience members related to the story and shared their personal experiences, moving to the United States or growing up as first-generation Americans.
The performance speaks to the larger Dallas-Fort Worth community, offering a thoughtful portrayal of fatherhood and underscoring the importance of building a legacy. The production began on April 21 and will be on until May 7.
For those interested, tickets for Amphibian Stage’s “Baba” production are available for $15-60. With its compelling storyline, nuanced acting, and important themes, the play is well worth the investment.
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