by Lorie Lewis Ham
Currently on stage at Fresno Pacific University is a show that is much needed at this time in our county–a show sharing the real life stories of nine Iraqi women in the midst and aftermath of the first Gulf War.
9 Parts of Desire was originally written as a one woman show where the playwright Heather Raffo played all nine characters. The characters are composites of women interviewed by Heather. The characters are Mulaya (Cierra Guerra), Layal (Meg Clark), Amal (Jessica Jeffery), Huda (Karen Vargas), the doctor (Valeria Ayala), the girl (Allison Calhoun), Umm Ghada (Stephanie Barnett), the American (Annelise Escobedo), and Nanna (Sadie Cobb). The character of Layal is based on an Iraqi artist, Layla Al-Attar, who died in 1993 after her house was bombed by an American missile. Other characters in the story represent a mother whose entire family was killed when the US bombed a bomb shelter, an Iraqi American in Manhattan, an elderly street peddler, a doctor, and a few others–providing a nice overview of many different women in different circumstances and standings in society.
This play can at times be heart wrenching to watch, and yet it is very important to see. It can be very easy to just ignore the plight of others when we don’t understand what they have been through–this show does an amazing job of giving the audience that insight. It will break your heart, move you, and make you think and possibly rethink some of your ideas. It also gives you a much more personal look at war than most of us here have ever had to deal with.
Each actress did an excellent job of portraying these nine women. The set had a lot of details, including a little river running through it, which was very cool. Kudos to director Julia Reimer and her cast and crew for taking on this challenge and doing it so well.
The show is performed in a little theatre on the Fresno Pacific campus called Strasbourg Theater at (Krause Hall 101) 1717 S Chestnut Ave. The remaining performances are November 17-19. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.eventbrite.com.
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