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9 Parts of Desire

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Brave. Honest. Riveting.

March 7 – April 19, 2020

In the Ellyn Bye Studio

ALL PERFORMANCES CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19

"El Samahy’s storytelling is riveting." –San Francisco Chronicle

An intimate and complex portrait of the extraordinary (and ordinary) lives of nine Iraqi women, this remarkable solo work offers a meditation on what it means to be a woman in a country overshadowed by war. Based on her interviews with real women during the reign and fall of Saddam Hussein, Heather Raffo weaves utterly distinct voices into a tapestry of humanity, love, and endurance in the face of oppression.

“Raffo brings us closer to the inner life of Iraq than a thousand slick-surfaced TV reports.”
-The Wall Street Journal

9 Parts of Desire

By Heather Raffo
Directed by Evren Odcikin
Starring Nora el Samahy

Photos

9 Parts of Desire Photos & Artwork
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Nine Parts, One World

An interview with Iraqi-American Israa Hasani, cultural consultant for 9 Parts of Desire, on how she helps ensure the show's authenticity and safeguards the spirit and intent of the stories being told.

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The Armory Bar Takes Teatime to a Boozy Level

Read about what parts of Curious Incident and 9 Parts Desire influenced our specialty cocktails and mocktail, including a few tea-based ones. We also include a recipe for one of the drinks to make at home!

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9 Parts of Desire

By Heather Raffo
Directed by Evren Odcikin

Featuring Nora el Samahy*

Kate Boyd
Scenic Designer
Dina El-AzizCostume Designer
Solomon WeisbardLighting Designer
James Ard
Sound Designer
Kristen Mun*Stage Manager
Katie Nguyen
Liam Kaas-Lentz*
Rehearsal Stage Managers
Macarena SubiabreProduction Assistant
Israa HasaniCultural, Dialect & Language Consultant

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


Nora el Samahy, Performer
Nora el Samahy, Performer

Nora (she/her) was born in Tripoli, Libya, and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Based in the Bay Area since 1998, she is a proud company member of Campo Santo and PlayGround, as well as a resident artist at Golden Thread Productions. In addition, she has acted with Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater, Magic Theatre, foolsFURY Theater Company, Traveling Jewish Theatre, EXIT Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, Woman’s Will Theater Collective, Shotgun Players, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and African-American Shakespeare Company, among many others. In 2013, Nora co-founded the performance company Affinity Project with Atosa Babaoff, Beatrice Basso, and Emily Hoffman. Nora is currently the President of the Board of Trustees with Golden Thread Productions.

Heather Raffo, Playwright
Heather is the recipient of a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Special Commendation and the Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin Fellowship for 9 Parts of Desire. She has received a 2005 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show, as well as Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations 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 next developed and performed as a reading at The Public Theater as part of their New Works Now festival in 2004. Its New York premiere was in the fall of 2004 at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater, where the show ran for nine sold-out months. 9 Parts of Desire began its regional tour at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, followed by productions in San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and D.C., as well as internationally. It was published in 2006 by Northwestern University Press and Dramatists Play Service. 9 Parts of Desire is Heather’s first play; her other acting credits include Sarah Woodruff in the world premiere of The French Lieutenant’s Woman at Fulton Opera House. Off-Broadway: Over the River and Through the Woods, the Off-Broadway/National Tour of Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Mistress Page), and The Rivals, all with The Acting Company. Regionally: Othello (dir. Jack O’Brien), Romeo and Juliet (dir. Daniel Sullivan), As You Like It (dir. Stephen Wadsworth), Macbeth (dir. Nicholas Martin), and The Comedy of Errors (dir. John Rando), all with The Old Globe in San Diego. Heather received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, her M.F.A. 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.

Evren Odcikin, Director
Evren is the interim associate artistic director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a founder of Maia Directors. As a director, he has worked at New York Theatre Workshop, Geva Theatre Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, The Lark, The Kennedy Center, InterAct Theatre Company, Cleveland Public Theatre, and Magic Theatre with such writers as Melis Aker, Kevin Artigue, Christopher Chen, Yussef El Guindi, Lauren Gunderson, MJ Kaufman, Hannah Khalil, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Mona Mansour, Betty Shamieh, and Caridad Svich, amongst many others. His translation of Sedef Ecer’s On the Periphery was presented in a co-production for Crowded Fire Theater and Golden Thread Productions, and he is under commission with Leila Buck to create 1001 Nights (A Retelling) for Cal Shakes, which he will direct this summer. He was featured as a “Theatre Worker You Should Know” in American Theatre Magazine and was a 2015 National Director’s Fellow. Evren was born and raised in Turkey and is a graduate of Princeton University. odcikin.com

Kate Boyd, Scenic Designer
Kate, a Bay Area scenic and lighting designer, is thrilled to be designing at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. She just finished lighting Noura at Marin Theatre Company, making this her second Heather Raffo play this year. She has worked with Aurora Theatre Company, Center REP, Magic Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Merola Opera Program, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and TheaterWorks. She is a resident artist with Golden Thread Productions and a recipient of the Gerbode Design Fellowship. Kate teaches stagecraft and design at Lick-Wilmerding High School.

Dina El-Aziz, Costume Designer
New York credits: I thought I would die but I didn't (The Tank); Eh Dah? Questions for my Father (Hypokrit Theatre Company/Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop); The Russian and The Jew (Anna & Kitty, Inc./The Tank); Dead Are My People (Noor Theatre/Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop); Marjana and the Forty Thieves (Target Margin Theater); Alternating Currents (Working Theater). Regional: Noura (Guthrie Theater and The Old Globe); Yasmina’s Necklace (Premiere Stages); Selling Kabul (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Pay No Attention to the Girl (Target Margin Theater/Spoleto Festival USA); We’ve Come to Believe, The Corpse Washer, How to Defend Yourself (Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival); Heartland (Geva Theatre Center). M.F.A. in design for stage and film from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. dinae.me

Solomon Weisbard, Lighting Designer
Born in Portland, Solomon (he/him) maintains an international career as a freelance lighting designer for all types of performance. With director Robert Wilson, productions in Italy, Germany, Greece, Russia, and Spain. Local credits: Portland Center Stage at The Armory’s The Breath of Life; Portland Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol (Drammy nomination), pen/man/ship (Drammy nomination), Jitney, and You for Me for You. Select Off-Broadway: Macbeth (directed by John Doyle at Classic Stage Company); Duat (Soho Rep); Men on Boats (world premiere, Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb); America Is Hard to See (HERE); The Film Society (Keen); and five productions with The Barrow Group. Regional: Arden Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Magic Theatre, Portland Stage, Quintessence Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre. M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama. Upcoming: Oedipus at the National Theatre in Budapest, Hungary.

James Ard, Sound Designer
James is a San Francisco-based designer, noisemaker, mechanic, broadcast artist, and theater vagrant, who composes soundscapes and music for humans, dogs, parrots, and bicycles. James’ sound design has been heard most recently in On the Periphery (Crowded Fire Theater, Golden Thread Productions); You For Me For You, Church (Crowded Fire Theater); The Most Dangerous Highway in the World, ReOrient (Golden Thread Productions); Exit Strategy, Dry Powder, The Royale (Aurora Theatre Company); La Ronde, Free For All (Cutting Ball Theater); Cry It Out (Just Theater); and Our Country (Wilderness and Tilted Field Productions), which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after an Under The Radar Festival production at The Public Theater. James is an occasional engineer at Z Space, a podcast coordinator at SF Sketchfest, and a resident artist with both Golden Thread Productions and Crowded Fire Theater.

Kristen Mun, Stage Manager
Kristen (she/her) was born and raised on the island of Oahu and holds a B.F.A. from Southern Oregon University. She is excited to return for her seventh season at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. Previous credits at The Armory include stage manager for School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, Native Gardens, Until The FloodSense and Sensibility, Constellations, and Major Barbara; assistant stage manager for In the Heights, The Color Purple, Fun Home, and Astoria: Part Two; and production assistant from 2013 to 2017. Kristen is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and is a freelance violence designer and teacher of stage combat. She sends her love to Adam and her family for always having her back.

Macarena Subiabre, Production Assistant
Macarena is excited to join Portland Center Stage at The Armory this season, where she was recently a production assistant for School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls PlayMiss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, and In the Heights. She graduated in 2018 with a B.F.A. in stage management from the University of Utah, where she stage managed productions such as Arcadia, Cats, and the U.S. premiere of The Beautiful Game. Other credits include: A Comedy of Tenors (Pioneer Theatre Company); How I Learned to Drive (Salt Lake Fringe Festival); and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Salt Lake Shakespeare). She was also lucky to complete an internship with Cirque du Soleil where she worked on Zumanity and the Cirque Cabaret, 2018.

Israa Hasani, Cultural, Dialect & Language Consultant
Israa was the cultural consultant for the Cygnet/CoHo production of 9 Parts of Desire. Israa has served for nine years as a mental health provider for immigrants, refugees, and survivors of torture. She is a survivor of war herself and has experienced dictatorship and militarization, all of which have affected her beliefs in peace, justice, and equity. Israa resides in the Portland metro area, where she works to narrow the gap of misunderstanding between cultures and increase inclusivity and diversity through education, art, and intercultural/interfaith relations. She has lectured at Portland State University, Oregon Health and Science University, Reed College, the Unitarian Church, and the Islamic Center of Portland. She has also served on different board entities, including the Refugee and Immigrant Empowerment and Services (RISE). Israa believes art is the language that can create a space of healing and understanding.

What Audiences are Saying

“Great material and fabulous acting - best play of the season!”

“Incredibly impactful. Makes me face something I haven’t given a lot of thought to as an American.”

“Powerful, beautiful writing and performance.”

“Stunning performance!!!”

National Acclaim

“Don’t miss this amazing theatrical experience!” –Gloria Steinem

“An example of how art can remake the world” –The New Yorker

“A moving portrayal of Iraqi women ... exquisite, passionate and penetrating.” –Los Angeles Times

“Riveting ... Raffo’s women, each uniquely colorful, merge to from a complex portrait of modern Iraqi identity.” –Time Out New York

“A highly absorbing 90 minutes with equal parts intellectual heft and raw human compassion.” –Chicago Tribune

“The voices are a study in contrasts: vivid and subdued, sophisticated and naïve, seductive and standoffish. But they cohere to form a powerful collective portrait of suffering and endurance.” –The New York Times

The words cut bone deep. It took nearly 10 years of research to give voice to these profoundly moving stories.”–Entertainment Weekly

Local Acclaim — Reviews from the 2008 Production by CoHo and Cygnet 

“9 Parts of Desire is one of the most compelling pieces of solo theater you will ever see on a Portland stage.” –Portland Mercury

“Raffo's script puts faces and emotions on the side of the Iraq War that Americans seldom see.” –The Oregonian

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