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9 parts that make a whole

The play, 9 Parts of Desire, a mono act, performed by Ira Dubey and directed by Lillete Dubey, details the lives of nine Iraqi women during the Gulf Wars

When actress Ira Dubey was invited to do a 10-15-minute theatre piece for the annual Prithvi Carnival, she scoured the Internet for an engaging subject. “That’s when I found 9 Parts of Desire. It is a globally acclaimed, one-woman hit that earned multiple awards. The original was written and performed by the half-American-half Iraqi Heather Raffo. It was inspired by her visit to a modern art museum in Baghdad in August 1993, where a painting of a nude woman had moved her,” reveals Ira Dubey.

Ira Dubey in 9 Parts of Desire
Ira Dubey in 9 Parts of Desire

How it took shape
“There were few excerpts available online. I wrote to Heather, seeking for permission to present the play in India. She was helpful and answered my queries. Meanwhile, I also mentioned the play to my aunt in Delhi, Lushin Dubey. She had seen the show on Broadway, met the writer and had a copy of the script, and that’s how the Indian premiere came about,” she adds. The play is a portrait of the extraordinary and ordinary lives of a cross-section of Iraqi women: a sexy painter, a radical communist, a doctor, an exile, wives, mothers, lovers and looks at the many aspects of what it means to be a woman in a country overshadowed by war. The music pieces are from Iraq with a few original compositions.

“When you take an international play and perform it here you cannot take many liberties. We didn’t want to Indianise the play. We wanted people here to witness another culture, a different ethos, see the differences and be surprised at the similarities, because human emotions and relationships are the same across the globe,” reveals director Lillete Dubey.

Nine lives, unplugged
Ira’s research was extensive, “I studied their accents and way of life. I’ve never visited Iraq so I found it helpful to watch documentaries about real people. It was tough to play nine women. There is a 12-year-old child who doesn’t go to school anymore, is stuck at home, and starts playing with pistols, another is a 70-year-old woman who is anti-regime, there’s a doctor who talks about the effects of war in a detached manner,” shares Ira. There is a funny, woman who has been married multiple times and is seeking love, and another character that is part American and part Iraqi. “This character is semi-autobiographical for Heather, and talks about being an Iraqi in America. Personal loss affects people in many ways. My performance after losing my father on May 11, came from a different place altogether,” concludes Ira.

On: Today, 7.30 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point. 
Call: 22824567

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