Review of the play "9 Parts of Desire"

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Heather Raffo, an Iraqi-American, traveled across four different continents interviewing Iraqi women to compile their stories into one intense production presenting their country's female population from a new perspective. A mosaic of the lives of nine Iraqi women that pieces together countless events of war-torn Iraq, "9 Parts of Desire" presents a point of view which is unseen by many Americans today. Being an Iraqi but living in America was difficult on Raffo. She was torn between her own safety, her family's lives and the duty to her home land. All around her, upon hearing news of the Gulf War, there were cheering men and women (American), but she could not help her feelings of being torn between the issue; her family still resided in Baghdad where the violence was increasingly getting worse yet she felt an obligation to be happy being an American citizen.

Growing up in America, Raffo decided to go back to her roots and create a masterpiece in which she collaborated her interpretations of the experiences of many different Iraqi women. She obtained their trust and love, to get a glimpse of their inner most thoughts and feelings. It is not easy to get an Iraqi woman to open up to you, but Raffo had the right mixture; she was half Iraqi, so the women felt comfortable and opened up immediately, whole also being a Western, so they felt they could express their worries and secrets which would normally be judged harshly if it were someone from their culture. She made it a point to present the play in a way so that American girls can relate and see themselves in her characters feeling that they could exist in any one of her characters.

The women in Raffo's play represent a wide range of females which include a doctor, an old street woman, a teenager, an exiled elitist, and an infamous painter. Together the lives of these women help an outsider understand the face of oppression and the common theme of survival and strength.

First, Layla, an Iraqi painter, who gains the trust and respect of Saddam Hussein through her art, but still doesn't feel accomplished. She feels empty and incomplete. Despite the constant repression of her people, Layla can not get herself to leave Iraq and go live a better life with her relative in London, bringing out a feeling of being trapped, which many women, even in America (pressures of society), feel. The portrayal of her character was so immense. It was obvious she was passionate about her paintings. Her gestures were big, showing her passion and great emotion. The expression of herself through her paintings, to me, represented how she so badly wanted to be set free.

Hooda, an older woman who spent much of her life traveling the world, has mixed emotions about the war. She experienced torture and all the ugliness of her country and was one of the few who were able to escape, but finds herself constantly questioning if the war and the struggles of her people are necessary. She was represented well, in that, her accent was not as strong as the women who still lived in Iraq and she occasionally used French words, showing her diversity and her past of traveling. She stood up straight and walked with good posture, showing that she respected herself and was very well-mannered.

Mulaya, who had a very short scene in the play, was a traditionally hired woman who leads women to funerals, mourning with them. Her feelings of remorse were very fake to me, whether they were intentional or not, I am unsure. Her gestures showed her concern for the women and their loss by putting her arm around them or being very soft with her tone, but the words she expressed showed her disconnection from the other women, as if she did not care.

The doctor described the medical realities and huge negative effects of the war on her country's population. She spoke with genuine care and a soft tone. Speaking with a slow pace, as if nowhere to go and gave the spectator a feeling of hopelessness, she describes...
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