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Women in Afghanistan Subject of Santa Monica College Play

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By Lookout Staff

September 9, 2014 – Before the Taliban in Afghanistan gained widespread notoriety in the U.S. in late 2001, a Santa Monica College (SMC) student and a SMC professor came together to write a play that described women’s conditions under their brutal regime.

Fourteen years after it premiered, “Disgraceful Veils of Afghanistan’s Taliban” will return this week with free performances by SMC’s Theatre Arts Department starting Tuesday.

The last show at the Theatre Arts Studio Stage on the SMC main Campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard, is scheduled for Saturday.

Written by SMC Theatre Arts professor Dr. Adrianne Harrop based on a proposal by then-SMC student and current SMC Theatre Arts adjunct professor Sheraye Esfandyari, the 25-minute performance uses dance, drama and theater to present the plight of women and education in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Esfandyari will be starring in the play’s lead role and will be joined in the performance by fellow SMC alum, actor and filmmaker Pridhvi Sunain Zoro, known for his work in “Best Night Ever” and “Cheap Date.”

Esfandyari was born in Tehran, Iran and moved with her family to Sweden at age 3, according to a March 2001 article in SMC’s student newspaper the Corsair. The family relocated to Los Angeles in the late 1990’s.

She enrolled at SMC in the fall of 1999. She met Harrop, and they began collaborating on the play, which explores the stifling oppression of women under the Taliban regime.

“Disgraceful Veils” was first presented in January 2000 starring Esfandyari and fellow SMC student Sebastiano Polli, drawing praises from many, including judges from the prestigious 2001 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.

"When the judges came to SMC to watch the first performance, they were blown away," said Polli in the March 2001 interview.  "The judges said, This play is equal to an A-plus scene."

The play was selected as “Best in Festival” at the regional competition in Fresno, which drew approximately 200 submissions.

Show times are 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  Admission is free. Seating is on a first-arrival basis.

The event is open to the public but contains adult subject matter, and may not be suitable for younger audiences, according to school officials.
For more information, contact the SMC Theatre Arts Program at (310) 434-4319.

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