( “Free” in Armenian) is a kaleidoscopic story within a story within a story, centered on a storyteller’s discovery of her great-great grandfather’s shadow puppets in Aleppo during the Syrian war. A century after he salvaged his family and his art from the Armenian Genocide, she unearths a trunk in the attic of the family home, filled with his handmade puppets and ancient magic tricks. This journey leads our storyteller to discover 1001 Nights and ScherAzad (the bold, brilliant weaver of tales who counters destruction with creation) and catalyzes an epiphany: the frame story of 1001 Nights is a story of how trauma transpires and how it is healed.


Azad is an immersive, magical, theatrical experience. It weaves together the classical art of oral Middle-Eastern storytelling with centuries old Anatolian Karagöz shadow puppets and the magic of cinema.

Azad transports the audience to a Middle-Eastern coffee shop with its tastes and smells, where for centuries storytellers (Hakawatis) and Karagöz (a form of pre-cinema playing with shadow and light) shadow puppeteers performed the tales from 1001 Nights. Projections and lighting transform this coffee shop from Ottoman times to modern pre-civil war Aleppo. Transcendent, classical Middle- Eastern music seamlessly blends with modern surround electronic soundscapes. The result: a multi-sensorial, time traveling exploration of healing. Audiences see, hear, smell and taste what it was like to be in Aleppo through various times in the city’s history – connecting us all to the legacy of a family of storytellers transmuting trauma into art.

AZAD Sponsors

  • Friend $250

    • Michelle Khalatian & Mark Holden
    • Andre Gumuchdjian
    • Sarkis & Maria Kharadjian
    • Ara Vartanian & Dr. Talar Kharadjian
  • Ally $500

    • Mike Chalan
    • Siera Jewelry
  • Supporter $1001

    • Play Coffee
    • Anonymous
  • Karagöz Patron $2500

    • Ara and Knar Wansikehian Family
    • George Nimeh
    • Anonymous
    • Bill Pullman
    • Crawford Capital LLC
    • Grobstein Teeple LLC
  • Media Sponsors

    • The Markaz Review
    • Al-Akhbar Newspaper
    • Asbarez
    • Armenian Weekly
  • Commemorative Show Sponsor

    • Ceasar's Pastry