Play: Nine Parts of Desire (Arabic Adaptation)

Mon, June 18, 2012 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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A portrait of the extraordinary (and ordinary) lives of a whole cross-section of Iraqi women: a sexy painter, a radical Communist, doctors, exiles, wives and lovers. This new Arabic-language adaptation of Heather Raffo’s heartbreaking work delves into the many conflicting aspects of what it means to be a woman in the age-old war zone that is Iraq. Iraqi actress Laila Muhammad performs this one-woman show in conjunction with a historic residency of delegates from Baghdad University.

The New Yorker has called Nine Parts of Desire “an example of how art can remake the world.”

Performance in Arabic with English supertitles

Tickets: $10 General (at the door or online here)
$5 Students, Seniors, Members (available at the door)
(*A small online fee is applied - use printout as your ticket)

About Nine Parts of Desire, from the Playwright
"I intended to write a piece about the Iraqi psyche, something that would inform and enlighten the images we see on T.V. However, the play is equally about the American psyche. It is a dialogue between east and west. The characters are deeply engaged in circumstances unique to them as Iraqis and yet through their passions seem to answer the concerns of the west. The audience plays a vital role in the show with each Iraqi character speaking directly to them in English as if they were a trusted western friend. I wanted the audience to see these women not as the ‘other’ but much more like themselves than they would have initially thought. I felt it was important to create a safe environment to experience both horror and humor, but ultimately to see the play as a celebration of life. 9 Parts of Desire is also about the need for feminine strength as a necessary part of any culture's endurance.

The material I gathered came from hours of gaining the trust of Iraqi women. I had the right mix: I was half Iraqi so they opened up to me immediately, but I was also Western so they felt they could express fears or secrets that might otherwise be judged more harshly by someone from their culture. And most importantly, I had to share as much of myself with them as they were sharing with me. My process was not one of formal interviews, but rather a process of living with, eating with, communicating compassionately and loving on such a level, that when I parted from their homes it was clear to all that we were now family. When an Iraqi woman trusts you it is because she has come to love you and that has been the process of finding and forming these stories.

With rare exception, none of the stories are told verbatim. Most are composites and although based in fact, I consider all the women in my play to be dramatized characters in a poetic story. I liken it to song writing – I listened deeply to what each woman said, what she wanted to say but couldn’t, and what she never knew how to say. Then I wrote her song." -Heather Raffo

Heather Raffo is the recipient of a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Special Commendation and the Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin Fellowship for 9 Parts of Desire. Most recently she has received a 2005 Lucille Lortel award for Best Solo show as well as an Outer Critics Circle Nomination and a Drama League nomination for Outstanding Performance. Heather first performed 9 Parts of Desire in August 2003 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. It later moved to the Bush Theatre in London's Off-West End, where critics hailed it as one of the five best plays in London in late 2003. 9 Parts of Desire was then developed and performed as a reading at The Public Theatre as part of their New Work Now festival in Spring 2004. Its New York premiere took place in the fall of 2004 at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater, where the show ran for nine sold out months. In 2005 the play began touring the U.S. at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Following are new productions at Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, The Wilma Theatre and Arena Stage in D.C. as well as international productions.

Heather received her BA from the University of Michigan, her MFA from the University of San Diego and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Originally from Michigan, Heather now lives in New York. Her father is from Iraq and her mother is American.

Last updated: 2012-06-05 15:32:27

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