Iranian director Kiomars Moradi presents The Skyless City at Dreamland Arts starting this weekend, but it isn't a premiere of the piece.
"I chose The Skyless City as my first play to show in the United States because I performed this show in three different countries. I performed it in Iran, France, and Italy, and I got very different feedback from audiences," Moradi said last week via email.
The play does tackle a vital, but often forgotten issue: human trafficking, and the toll it takes on women and children. Moradi found that audiences were intrigued by the show, and welcomed a chance to explore the topic in his piece. "I hope this play gives the audience different views about people and their stories from Middle East," he said.
The writer and director arrived in the Twin Cities in 2010. Working through Springboard for the Arts, he connected with Zaraawar Mistry, who operates Dreamland. "I thought it was a good place to start, and it has everything I need to perform my play."
The Skyless City, written by Moradi and Pourya Azarbayjani, tells the stories of four women from different Middle Eastern countries. We follow two women who are in an abandoned subway station in Paris, awaiting their passports from the trafficker who smuggled them out of their home countries. During the show, they interact with others who have attempted the trip in the past.
Part of the inspiration came in 2007, when Moradi learned of a band of traffickers in the Middle East. "They would find girls and women and say to them, 'We can give you a wonderful life in Western countries. They tricked them. They bought them for prostitution or they sold their organs," he said.
In the show, two actors onstage (Taous Khazem and Eliza Rasheed) play two characters, while two others (Nazgol Naderian and Fatemeh Naghavi) are presented on video.
"They are waiting for their passports, and they remember other friends who died during the trip. So, I needed a way to create their friends in their mind. Then I realized multimedia helps me to make their imaginations [come alive]," Moradi says, noting that he uses both projections and onscreen performances. "With this technology we can go into the past and we can see their stories."
While the show has met with acclaim in its different runs, it also faced censorship when it was performed in Tehran. All theatrical events need to be cleared through the government's Dramatic Art Center. While Moradi did discuss the play with them, he found that parts of the play centered on Iranian characters were censored.
IF YOU GO
The Skyless City
677 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul
For tickets and information, call 651.645.5506 or visit online