You are a writer and you wrote a play about language. What did you learn about words?

I feel incredibly insecure about my English and Farsi language skills — I feel like I know 50 percent of each language, and I feel like I always bombard job interviews because the words never come to me the way I do it wants to come to me. This play, of course, was so much about my parents and immigrants and the hope that we can have mercy on people who try to express themselves in a language they weren’t raised with, but I think it was also a kind reminder to myself.

What is it like seeing the play with an audience that is presumably largely non-Iranian-American?

It’s a bit torture watching your play with an audience around you. I just watch them watch the play. I remember when we did it in New York it was hard to feel like we were getting the wrong laughs some nights. But I was also really moved by the non-Iranian audience that came to see the play and found themselves in it. That’s what you ask of an audience, and that’s nice.

As the play is performed across the country, create more work for Iranian-American artists. Was that an incentive?

I grew up with media where I was incredibly frustrated with our portrayal and the roles we were offered. I know so many actors in our community and they are so incredibly talented and it was frustrating to feel like their talents weren’t being used well. I wanted to work with them and give them roles that they loved. It was very important to me to make this play funny because I didn’t want to keep our actors from laughing.

In previous interviews you spoke of the fear of being pigeonholed.

I don’t know if this fear will ever go away. I’m so proud to be Iranian and to be able to tell these stories, and I just remain hopeful that when I submit a non-Iranian assignment, it will be just as exciting.

You work for television. Are you a member of the Writers Guild of America? are you on strike

I strike. I was on the picket line last week. I am incredibly proud to be a WGA member. I love theater – theater is my first love and my greatest love – but I can’t make a living from theatre. If I could, I would devote myself entirely to the theater. But the WGA meant I had health insurance during Covid and I’m doing my rent. I will also be on the picket line this week for as long as it takes. We subsidize our theater work for so many playwrights.

What’s next for you?

This year I had to ask myself if what we’re doing matters. The people of Iran are in the midst of a women-led revolution and they are risking their lives. I wonder who I would be if we never left and I wonder if I would let my roosari [head scarf] Falling behind, knowing it could mean my life. But I really, really believe that theater is important – I was changed by theater and theater presented me with a better future when I failed with my imagination. So I don’t know what’s next, but I just hope that this year, with so much pain and bloodshed, this will signal to the Iranians that our stories matter and that we are heard. And I hope that one day we can play this piece in Iran.


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