–photo courtesy of Eyes Up Here Productions
Nearly 20 years ago, Nine Parts of Desire, premiered to acclaim in London and Off-Broadway. Now, the multi-award-winning solo play, written and performed by Heather Raffo, has been adapted for the screen. Thanks to People’s Light, Detroit Public Theatre, and Eyes Up Here Productions, Nine Parts of Desire– the film- is available to stream at peopleslight.org through February 12th, ahead of its national release on PBS this spring.
Raffo spent a lot of time developing this play and has helped forge a new genre of Arab American theater along the way. A trip to Baghdad in August 1993 to visit family inspired her to write Nine Parts of Desire and she spent ten years interviewing Iraqi women from various backgrounds for the story.
In Nine Parts of Desire, Raffo transforms herself into all nine characters in the performance. Though she’s been doing this in various productions over the years, it’s still impressive to witness how seamlessly her transformations can be. Raffo is believable as a collection of Iraqi women- from one who finds out her husband is having an affair, to a young child who loves NSYNC and is too aware of the war outside, a woman who lost her family in a shelter bombing, and many more strong, resilient women.
The film’s upcoming national release will mark 20 years since the beginning of the war in Iraq. This is almost as long as Raffo has been telling the story. Nine Parts of Desire is adapted to our current time, citing Covid and isolation that has surrounded us in recent years and still reminds us of the war, loss, and separation that divides so many countries still today. If you can set aside an hour this week to watch it, please do. Tickets are $25, including fees. To purchase streaming access, call 610.644.3500 or visit peopleslight.org.