Sunday, April 03, 2005

Nine Parts of Desire

I joined TDF a few weeks ago. I'm not sure why it took me so long. TDF is an organization that allows teachers, people working for arts organizations, and others who qualify to get reduced-price theater tickets to many, many shows around New York City. Already, I see that belonging will revolutionize my ability to see stuff that I've wanted to see but not wanted to spend $60 or more to see...

On Friday, P. and I went to our first TDF show, 9 Parts of Desire. I'd heard it was amazing; a friend said it was by far the best theater she'd seen recently. She was right. It's a one-woman show portraying nine different Iraqi women and their perspectives on what's happened in the past 15 years in Iraq. The show is incredibly powerful and really, really difficult to watch. It shows the complexity of the situation; the women contradict themselves and each other. One woman is a doctor who describes how, under Saddam, the hospitals were among the best in the Middle East, while now, she can't even save the life of a woman going through a difficult childbirth. She describes children wearing bullets tipped in depleted Uranium around their necks. She describes whole families with cancer, and birth defect after birth defect. Another woman is an artist who slept with members of Saddam's family - and possibly Saddam himself - in order for protection. Hers is one of the most difficult and complicated perspectives and I can't do it justice here. Another woman is a political exile who describes protesting wars all around the world but being unable to protest THIS war, given the violence of Saddam's rule. The writer/actor, Heather Raffo, depicts herself watching TV and praying for the safety of her father's relatives in Iraq. She describes the feeling of expecting New York City to just stop out of respect for the war being fought by our country.

The show was very intense, very heavy - it was hard to just leave the theater and have dinner afterwards - but I guess the need for silence and reflection that I felt after seeing it only speaks for its power.

*****

On a lighter note, I went to the supremely geeky, hilarious, and awe-inspiring "Juggle These," the New York City Juggling Festival. Some good stuff included Adam Kuchler, a clown who juggled sparkling cardboard boxes and, at one point, held 16 at once in a row, starting with one and picking up the rest one at a time (he also stuffed most of his body into a shopping bag earlier in the show!). A French juggler, Denis Paumier, did a wonderful routine with a spoon and container of yoghurt. He ate the yoghurt during the act. I think he's got a future with Yoplait, should he ever need some cash. The Trained Human Club juggled and drummed, the balls hitting the drums in rhythm.

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