East meets West in a play about plight of women in interwar Iraq

Heather Raffo’s “9 Parts of Desire” comes to Athens’s Vault Theater Pluson on December 19. The Off Broadway hit follows the lives of nine Iraqi women during the decade between the first and second Gulf wars.

Ranging from a doctor to a communist to an artist, the women and their stories – distinct in content but thematically overlapping – offer a fascinating portrait of a society darkened by conflict.

Questions of national loyalties and women’s identity are presented to the audience in a dialogue-type exchange.

The show was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and has been hailed by the New Yorker as “an example of how art can change the world.” In 2005 it won Raffo the prestigious Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show.

Raffo is an Iraqi American with extensive travel experience in the Middle East. She composed the play after a 1993 visit to the Saddam Art Museum in Baghdad.

“I intended to a write a piece about the Iraqi psyche, something that would inform and enlighten the images we see on TV. However, the play is equally about the American psyche. It is a dialogue between East and West,” she notes.

“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 production comes to Greece after tours throughout the United States and Great Britain. The performance has been translated into Greek by Pepi Moscovakou. Maria Tsaroucha directs a cast led by Haris Symeonidou, Effie Meravoglou and Christina Dendrinou. The performances are taking place with the support of the Iraqi Embassy in Athens.

Shows take place Thursdays and Fridays at 9.30 p.m. and Saturdays at 6.30 p.m. General admission costs 15 euros.

For more information, call Vault Theater Plus (26 Melenikou, Votanikos) at 213.035.6472.

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