Alec Williams plays Khalil in the Working Spark Theatre production of Ghosts in Baghdad. Photo by Tim Matheson.
Alec Williams plays Khalil in the Working Spark Theatre production of Ghosts in Baghdad. Photo by Tim Matheson.

In 2003, the National Museum of Iraq suffered the loss of thousands of priceless artifacts from looting. Vancouver playwright Michelle Deines uses this as inspiration for her play Ghosts in Baghdad.

“I was immediately struck by the poignancy of the story,” says Deines who was inspired by a 2006 story of the looting during a time when the museum was still coping with the aftermath of the 2003 invasion and the catastrophic looting that took place when the Americans reached Baghdad. “It reminded me a little bit of Waiting for Godot, characters caught in a situation in which discourse is halted and purpose is elusive.”

Ghosts in Baghdad tells the story of Khalil who finds solace in the closed halls of the Iraq Museum, while Malika struggles between her desire to leave, and loyalty to both her work and colleague. Their isolation is shattered, however, when a young street kid named Dawood, comes to the museum. He says he has an ancient mask, a prized artifact that has been missing since the 2003 looting, but has secretly been sent there by a street hustler, who has an agenda of his own. As secrets are revealed, the characters face a final confrontation brimming with desperation, betrayal, and a fight over the very survival of culture itself. 

Ghosts in Baghdad celebrates the incredible history of Iraq, and the unique part Iraq has played in the development of civilization, from writing to agriculture,” says Deines. “It explores the themes of the struggle to preserve humanity during a time of war; the power of stories and culture; the role of women as survivors; finding redemption; and lost love. In many ways simply a love story, Ghosts in Baghdad is at times funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful.”

The world premiere of Ghosts in Baghdad will be directed by John Murphy and play Little Mountain Gallery Theatre in East Vancouver from March 27 to April 6, 2014.   Visit http://workingspark.com for more information.