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Baggage From BaghDAD: Becoming My Father's Daughter mirrors the struggle of today’s Ukrainian refugees and reflects the rising racial and religious discrimination worldwide. It is one Middle Eastern Jewish family’s true inspirational journey of being forced to flee from religious persecution during the 1941 “Farhud” pogrom in Baghdad. It is the story of playwright and performer Valerie David’s father and his family’s struggle to transcend their harrowing past and build a new home in America. As father and daughter learn to love and accept their differences, the importance and power of family take center stage as she begins to understand how his tale of survival and perseverance shaped her convictions and her future.

Many of its themes include pertinent topics reflecting today’s turbulent times: prejudice, discrimination, bullying, immigration, refugees, social injustice, generational trauma, rebuilding, and the love and loss of family, to name a few.

It is an accepted fact that Hitler had Mein Kampf translated into Arabic and thus began the trouble for the Middle Eastern Jews. There were plans for concentration camps and gas chambers, as over one million Jews resided in the Middle Eastern countries in the 1930s/’40s, and the Middle Eastern Jews’ existence in the Middle East dates back thousands of years. Valerie’s family was part of that diaspora. Over 1,000 Jews were estimated to have been murdered during the Farhud. Her family fled that night only with what they could carry, never to return.
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Baggage From BaghDAD was first presented in April 2018 at the MENASA Artists Coalition cabaret night, with subsequent staged readings at the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival (August 2018) and Live & In Color in Connecticut (September 2018), where Valerie was selected as writer-in-residence. In 2021, Baggage From BaghDAD was presented as a filmed staged reading in EAT’s New Works Series. It was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. In 2022, it was selected for the WHAM (Women’s History Artist Month) Festival and The New York Step 1 Theatre Project, both in New York. Baggage From BaghDAD received top theatre honors—The Spoken Word and Theatre Award—and was also nominated for the Grand Prix Award in the 2022 Stockholm Fringe Festival as a full production. Valerie was selected as the Artist-In-Residence and presented a performance at The Grange Hall Cultural Center at Waterbury Center, Vermont in December. She will present the play at the Whitefire Theatre Solofest in Los Angeles on March 4, 2023. The running time of the show is 60 minutes.

Valerie’s goal in 2023 is to perform Baggage From BaghDAD both domestically and internationally to create awareness of the Farhud, an essential part of history that has largely been forgotten with its main themes highlighting today’s times.
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Valerie will incorporate community engagement activities that could be tailored to both students and adults. This includes conducting creative writing workshops, improv workshops, a course on Middle Eastern studies, and/or an Artist Entrepreneurship course—creating and producing your own work.

After every performance for Baggage From BaghDAD, Valerie will have audience talkbacks with industry professionals and special guests with expertise in the show’s main themes. These participants have been zoomed in as talkback guests in New York, and Sweden and will be for the upcoming Vermont performance.