Layale Chaker

Ruinous Gods

Suites for Sleeping Children

Music by Layale Chaker
Libretto by Lisa Schlesinger

About the work

Ruinous Gods: Suites for Sleeping Children is a new opera-theatre piece about seven displaced children who have uppgivenhetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, a rare trauma response to the state of living in the limbo of displacement.

On the eve of fleeing Turkey by boat with her parents, Hala, a 12-year old girl, packs a tiny backpack with her clothes but she cannot fit her most precious possession in the bag. Because of the stress of her impending journey, she falls asleep. In seven dream sequences, she follows the journeys of seven other young protagonists who have fled war and climate disaster to make homes in new countries only to learn they are not granted asylum. These dreamscapes echo familiar fairy tales: missing possessions come to life and people are accompanied by extinct animal-helpers through nightmarish and fantastic landscapes to reimagine their stories and their outcomes. But Ruinous Gods also plays against these familiar stories: the real nightmare is in waking up. In the final scene, we return to Hala. Will she wake or sleep on into eternity? When she opens her backpack at the end of the play the world is transformed but is it real or is it a dream?

The refugee crisis, as well as a global humanitarian crisis, is an ethical crisis of spirit and conscience. More than 68 million people are displaced. Over half of them are children. Recently, the UNHRC commission on the welfare of children declared that 7 million children are deprived of their liberty, over 400,000 are detained in jail or prison.

Since children literally embody the future what does this mean for our civilization? This opera-theatre challenges us to wake up and save the future, not for the future’s sake but for the children who will embody it.




Number of singers : 7
Number of instrumentalists : 12


Date of composition:



Date of premiere : September 2021 (prospective)


Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker's musical world lies at the intersection of classical contemporary music, Jazz, Arabic Music, and improvisation. Her music, described as ""entrancing"", "innovative and vibrant", "pure poetry", and "gorgeous", defies genre while feeling perfectly at home in jazz, world, and classical festivals and series in major venues worldwide. As a violinist and composer, she has received commissions and presented performances and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America and Asia, as a soloist and with her ensemble Sarafand.

Layale released the album Inner Rhyme on In a Circle Records in 2019 with Sarafand. Dedicated to the sounds, rhythms, rhymes, shapes and forms of Arabic poetry, Inner Rhyme has been lauded by Songlines, NPR, the BBC Music Magazine, The New York Times, The Strad, Strings Magazine, and Jazz World, among others.


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