Izad Etemadi was born at 8:10 a.m. on Mar. 2, 1990, in a German refugee camp where his family was staying after fleeing from Islamic revolution in Iran.  

There are many things about Etemadi that he has had to explain—the pronunciation of his name (rhymes with “egad!”), the fact that he only knew Disney songs in German, the unexpected way his parents reacted when he came out to them.   

This year, he decided to explain himself once and for all in his hour-long performance of Let me Explain. Green Light Arts hosted the preview performance on May 25, 2023, at the Conrad Centre for the Performance Arts in downtown Kitchener to an audience of nearly 40 community members.   

Although he has performed solo shows as different characters before, this show was Etemadi speaking as himself.   

“I’ve never seen my kind of story portrayed in a positive fun way[and I] felt like I was hiding a bit behind the characters because I do have a lot to say,” he said.   

“I wanted to do it in a way that felt true to me, and I still always come back to the humour of it and never making fun of it. But like just embracing the chaos and the weirdness and the wackiness of some of these things that I’ve gone through,” Etemadi said.  

Matt White, co-founder and artistic director at Green Light Arts, and Carin Lowerison, co-founder and managing editor of Green Light Arts, discovered Etemadi in a show in Toronto in 2017.  

White said he initially asked about a show with one of Etemadi’s characters, Leila.  However, Etemadi wanted to do a show sharing his own stories.   

The team began production of Let Me Explain before the pandemic.   

“We had no idea what the beginning was, but we knew what the ending was,” White said.  

“He spent so much of his life being told by other people who he had to be, who he was or who they wanted him to be; it was all in relation to the other and I feel like this is 65 minutes, unapologetically of him claiming himself,” he said.  

Etemadi is from British Columbia but developed a love for Kitchener since he started working with Green Light Arts. Last year, he performed a 20-minute show with SPECTRUM.   

“I didn’t really know Kitchener existed when I first came here, but the people were so amazing[the SPECTRUM event] was just so full of joy and the queer community really embraces themselves here and it’s a lovely spot. And it’s a nice place to try things out,” Etemadi said.   

“I think that that there is so much shit in the world and it was really important to address it and to acknowledge it, but it’s also finding opportunities to laugh through it,” he said.  

Midas Beglari, an Iranian audience member, appreciated that Etemadi also made mention of the current revolution in Iran.   

“I like the fact that he talks about the revolution happening right now…he’s doing his part and I’m proud of him for doing that,” Beglari said. A 

“I like the fact that people think they’re going to come and laugh, but they’re gonna leave knowing what is happening back home because it’s something that affects all of us,” they said.  

The preview was the first time the show was performed in front of an audience. In the two weeks preceding the show, there were daily rehearsals and tweaks.   

“For the first show, it went really well. We’ve rewritten it like every day for the last two weeks; so, I’m happy with where it’s at,” Etemadi said.  

“The thing about these kinds of shows is that it changes based on the audience and grows the more depth so I’m excited to see what it’s like next week, because I think it will be a different beast in a week from now,” he said.  

Let Me Explain has eight performances scheduled from May 25 to June 4.