There Is A Portal

Can an immigrant’s story offer a space for healing?

Written & Performed by Kayhan Irani
Directed by Rania Lee Khalil
Video Art by Gazelle Samizay
Music & Sound Composition by Bahar Royaee

Video shot and edited by Aidan Un

There is a Portal is a participatory theater experience and social justice education program that transforms activism by revealing the ties that bind us, encourages new definitions of belonging, and offers space to collectively envision avenues of change. The project is an exploration between performer and audience to co-create a deeper consciousness through theater,

Kayhan Irani recreates and embodies her journey of displacement and the search for home in four parts: Loss, Hatred, Regret, and Closeness. From the streets of Tehran during the Iranian Revolution to the sidewalks of Manhattan on September 11th, from ancient Zoroastrian tales of displacement and migration to an American immigrant’s painful assimilation, the performance brings to life cycles of displacement, violence, and lovein her story of making and re-making home. The audience is also invited to share their own stories during the performance. Mining memory and weaving an interconnected web of story, There is a Portal reimagines belonging, place, and human connection in a divided world.

“If we can remember together, we can pull the poison out.”

Young people of immigrant and refugee heritage need opportunities to create belonging and a sense of critical personhood as they weather an increase in hate crimes and hateful public rhetoric aimed at demonizing, silencing, and isolating them and their communities. Immigrant and refugee communities need engaged and embodied pedagogies that touch body, heart, and mind. Ones that offer critical and creative engagement that embrace the multiple identities, histories, and struggles students come from and allow for healing and growth as they develop into responsible and compassionate social actors.

The performance will be presented in formal theatre and informal settings such as classrooms, community centers, interfaith organizations, and libraries and is designed to offer creative arts and storytelling resources to immigrant and refugee serving spaces.

“I wanted that. I wanted someone to say ‘Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here.’”

Hatred is being met with rising desires for humanity and a shared commitment to justice. There is a Portal is a vehicle for necessary conversations about our democracy — to help us imagine new alternatives and to advance a radically transformative American narrative.

“Del beh del, rah dareh. From one heart to another: There is a Portal.”


With Support From:
First Acts at Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Queens College; Gibney Moving Toward Justice Fellowship; The Bay and Paul Foundations; The Made in NY Women’s Film, TV & Theatre Fund by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Asian Women’s Giving Circle.