making theatre histories for the future
Women: taboos of stage and stories
by Monirah Hashemi
Tue 10 July 2018
Candid Arts Trust
3-5 Torrens Street
An Afghan playwright, actress and filmmaker who has worked in Kabul as an artist, Monirah Hashemi puts women’s stories and narratives at the core of her work. Currently living in Sweden, she will be in London from 8th to 18th July 2018 for the staged reading of her new play at Camden’s People Theatre on 16th July, produced by Palindrome Productions. This talk will be an extraordinary opportunity to learn first-hand about her exceptional work, as well as the motivation and circumstances behind it.
The talk will be centered around Monirah Hashemi's aim to break the taboo of female representation in Afghanistan - in stories in general, and on the stage in particular. Women’s experiences of war, violence and love; their hopes, their struggles, their battles and dreams - rarely heard, even more rarely published or acknowledged internationally - take centre-stage under her pen.
Hashemi refers to the female body as a battlefield dominated by men: it is the main topic of constant discussions, men’s greatest concern, as well as a central issue of their endless war. Yet the female body has been largely ignored at a larger scale in its active, sentient, capable, and fighting dimensions.
In her talk, Hashemi recounts her own battle in reclaiming narratives by women and about women, away from the single-story that represents them as victims, and introducing them as “rebels against old and backwards thoughts, traditions and systems; warriors and survivors of hardships and severe rules”.
One of the keys for change is to make women’s stories available to the public. Because only by knowing what women go through will we be able to inspire and create lasting change in their lives. It is therefore extremely important that stories of immigrant/migrant women are told on stages in Europe: so that we get to know their stories, but also to more closely examine our own.
Hashemi has been commissioned by Palindrome Productions, a theatre company dedicated to women’s work, to write a play that will become the fourth constituent of Palindrome’s Sahar Speaks series of plays. These plays are the result of Palindrome’s partnership with Sahar Speaks in 2017, in which three articles written by Afghan women journalists were adapted for the stage and performed in London in mid-October at Theatre503.
Support for this residency was provided by the College of the Arts and Sciences: Arts and Humanities Grant, the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Grants for Research on Women, Gender and Gender Equity.