Entertainment » Theatre

Athenaeum Theater Presents ’Haram Iran’

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Sep 25, 2008

Chicago's Athenaeum Theater presents the world premiere of Haram Iran, a play examining the dangerous world of gay teens finding love in a country hostile to all but a narrow range of what love means.

Based on the true story of two Iranian teens who were put to death after a trial in 2005 in Mashad, Iran, Haram Iran, written by Jay Paul Deratany and directed by David Zak, is set to open on Saturday, November 8th, at 8:00 p.m.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the story is that it is not even clear that the two boys, both fifteen, were gay. Many heterosexual youths experiment sexually with same-sex friends before determining their innate preference.

Either way, Ayaz Marhjouni and Mahmoud Asgari were hauled up before a religious court and accused, under the strict and anti-gay tenets of Sharia law, of crimes against God in a play that, while true to names, dates, and places, is partly fictionalized by necessity, filling in details that are not known in the West.

The factual details on which the play is based include the initial charges of homosexuality and the fact that the judge reacted to international pressure not by showing lenience, but by changing the charge to the more serious crime of rape.

Says the press release, "In Iran thousands of people, including children, are jailed or killed each year, some because they are women who have had pre-maritial sex, and others because they are considered to be homosexual."

The release continues, "Haram Iran involves some nudity, and violence, and a criticism of Iranian politics and their very flawed legal system.

"This play does not, however critique or criticize Muslims, or the Muslim faith, which is a loving and peaceful religion."

Adds the release, "In fact, to the contrary, the writer draws the distinction between a loving faith and some of its misguided extremist followers."

In the release, Jay Paul Deratany was quoted as saying, "this play is about exposing the human rights violations being committed on a daily basis, therefore I will be donating a significant portion of the of the profits from this play to Amnesty International for the aid and assistance to Iranians who suffer from torture and injustice."

Said the release, "So when you buy your ticket, remember that some of your ticket price will go to help those who are in desperate need of our care and love."

Tickets cost $20 for adults; seniors and students pay $18. Tickets can be obtained online at ticketmaster.com or via phone at 312-559-1212.

Tickets can also be purchased at the Athenaeum Theater, located at 2936 N Southport Ave, in Chicago. Telephone: (773) 935-6860.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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