Operation Magic Carpet Flies Into Wimbledon!

Polka production is an adventure from London to Baghdad

Samantha Ellis, the child of Iraqi refugees, has written a play for ages six and up which premieres at Polka Theatre in Wimbledon from April 3 – May 24.

Operation Magic Carpet offers a look at cultural identity through Nomi who is growing up in London, dreaming of going to Baghdad, where her parents come from.

Just as they are homesick, she finds she is homesick for a place she has never seen. Her mother tells her fantastical stories of shooting stars and magic carpets, but her dad says they must be English and eat fish fingers!

When Nomi asks why her mother is so sad, she's told "she left her heart in Baghdad" and she decides to find a way to get it back. Even as Nomi wonders what to do a genie bursts out of a mango pickle jar; her main wish for him is clear and they immediately set off for Baghdad on a magic carpet.

In Iraq Nomi experiences many of the things her mother told her about, but when her wishes run out, how will she get back home?

Samantha Ellis said: "This is a very personal play. This is a play about finding your own story, about knowing where you come from and, therefore, where you are going. I wanted to write a strong, bold, curious child heroine."

Samantha Ellis was born and grew up in London to Iraqi-Jewish parents. Her non-fiction book How to be a Heroine, about meeting her literary heroines again, is published in the UK, US and (soon) Sweden. Her plays include Cling to Me like Ivy (Birmingham Rep and tour); Patching Havoc (Theatre 503) and Sugar and Snow (BBC Radio Four) and she is a core member of Agent 160 Theatre. She is also a journalist and script edited Paddington for Heyday Films.

Like Samantha, composer Attab Haddad was born in the UK to Iraqi parents. Having started out in business and then retrained as a sound engineer, Attab discovered a surprising aptitude and affinity for the oud and decided to study it in depth.

As a musician, Attab has collaborated with artists in many genres as co-composer, producer, musician and session player and appears as guest artist in many albums. In 2008 he founded the Attab Haddad Quintet, which plays his own compositions drawing on Middle Eastern music. Outside of his work with the Quintet, Haddad has written original scores in the spheres of dance, television, film and now theatre.

Rosamunde Hutt has directed over forty productions for young audiences and has led or co-led three major companies in the UK: Hijinx Theatre (1990-93), Theatre Centre (1993-2007) and Unicorn (2007-2011). In 2012 her production of Anupama Chandrasekhar’s The Snow Queen played to over 3500 people on tour in India. In 2013 she had three major productions for young people touring the UK. Even more recently she has directed Simon Reade’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Polka Theatre, Charles Way’s The Snow Queen in Bucharest, and work for East 15, RADA and ALRA.

March 28, 2015

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