Below is the Cast and Crew of the original Chicago production in 2008


Anand Bhatia came to Chicago after graduating from the University of Iowa in Iowa City (Let's go Hawks!). He has been training at Act One Studios for the past year. His most recent credit is Patrick in the show TRANSITions. Anand is excited to be part of the "Haram Iran" cast. Many thanks to all those that have and continue to support his acting endeavors.

Matios is a graduate of Wayne State University where he earned his BFA in Theatre. While at WSU, he performed in many different productions at the Bonstelle, Hillberry, and Studio Theatres. Also during his time at WSU, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Russia at the Moscow Art Theatre. Since moving to Chicago, he has been a part of different productions including 12 Angry Jurors with Oil Lamp Theater and most recently The Tearful Assassin with Viable Theatre Co. He is also a company member with Imagination Theater and Great Works Theatre, two touring children’s companies. He is extremely excited to be working on Haram Iran. He would like to thank his wonderful wife Danielle for all of her support.

Born in New York and raised in Europe, Nawaf discovered his passion for acting at a young age. After moving to the United States at the age of 11, he began performing in school plays and acting in independent movies. Encouraged by his family, Nawaf continues to entertain audiences with his talent. Driven by dedication and ambition, Nawaf is also an accomplished poet, singer and taekwondo fighter. He is currently a senior in high school and is planning to pursue acting as a career.

Anita is thrilled to appear in "Haram Iran". Her other Chicago credits include work with Next, Collaboraction at Steppenwolf, LookingGlass, Organic, Pegasus, Remy Bumppo, Silk Road, Babes with Blades, and Rasaka - for which she was also the Founding Executive Director and co-producer of their Jeff Citation winning The Masrayana. NYC credits include work with Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre & Open Eye. Her first full-length play, Gandhi Marg, won 2nd place in Writers Digests 75th Stage Play Competition, was a finalist in Chicago Dramatists Many Voices Project and a recipient of a 3Arts Fellowship. She wishes to thank her family for their love and support.


Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Ayman has always enjoyed being a source of entertainment for his family and friends. His first acting debut was at the age of 6 in a school play. From that point forward Ayman was involved in various forms of performance arts, as he fronted various rock bands, and performed in college plays. Ayman moved to the States in 1998 in pursuit of the elusive American Dream. He is currently fronting a popular Chicago rock band (The Emerald Lizards) and appearing in various roles in indie films. Haram Iran marks Ayman's theatrical debut in Chicago. You can find more information on Ayman at ( .

Benjamin Zavala, a native Chicagoan, moved to New York to study Theatre Arts making his way through the off-broadway theatre circuit throughout the 70's and 80's. After returning to Chicago, Benjamin continued to act with numerous credits in film, television and commercial work. With close to four decades of acting experience, he returns to the stage with fervor over the exploration of the tragic story of these two young boys. Passionately and strongly, he accepted this role also to bring attention to Iranian society as it now stands for the rights and freedoms of the individual.

Jeremy Cohn is a 2008 graduate of Boston University's Acting program where his favorite credits include "A Man of No Importance" (Alfie), "Two Sisters and a Piano" (Lt. Portuendo), and "The Weavers" (Dreissiger). He has appeared regionally with the Huntington Theatre Company ("The Hopper Collection", "Love's Labours Lost") and has participated for two years in the acting ensemble of the Boston Playwrights Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival. He recently made his Chicago debut in Dracula with The Building Stage. Jeremy would like to thank his family and friends for their love and warmth, without which the world would be a very boring place indeed.

David Zak has been the Artistic Director of Balliwick Repertory since its founding in 1982. Amongst his awards and honors, Mr. Zak has received an After Dark Award for Direction, ten Jeff Citations, a Distinguished Career Alumni Award from MacMurray College, and a Torch Award from the Human Rights Campaign. From "The Count of Monte Cristo" to "Barenaked Lads," from "Dr. Sex" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Jerry Springer - The Opera," including productions across Chicago, the United States and around the world, Mr. Zak has quite an impressive resumè. David would like to offer a special thanks to Kirby!
David Zak

When he isn't writing plays and further expressing his passion for the arts, Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany is helping those suffered stand up for their legal rights. After graduating from the DePaul School of Law, Mr. Deratany soon started his own practice. His ardor for human rights issues and artistic ability helped bring "Haram Iran" to the stage, and several projects in the works. An advocate for ethics, Mr. Deratany is active in local government, social organizations and artistic societies.
Jay Paul Deratany

Rick Ransome joins the team of this production a novice but with an intuition and passion of an old soul. A playwright/screenwriter of his own right, Rick is extremely passionate of this production and of the story of Mahmoud and Ayaz. Sadly, there are too many stories of injustice to choose from, but after seeing the actual footage of the execution of the boys, he felt a personal bond with them and a perservance to share their stories and their names with others who don't know. When not working in the theatre, Rick is a full time online marketing expert and former employee of Google.
David Zak