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Heather Raffo
MFA Alumna Gives Voice to Iraqi Women

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Last May, Heather Raffo ‘98 mesmerized her USD audience with her performance of her own play "9 Parts of Desire." What began as Raffo’s master’s thesis project at The Old Globe/University of San Diego Graduate Theatre Program has matured into an internationally acclaimed play.

"9 Parts of Desire" tells the story of nine Iraqi women living in Iraq, the United States and Europe. Based on interviews conducted by Raffo while visiting her father’s homeland of Iraq, these monologues describe the fears, hopes, celebrations and sadness of Iraqi women throughout the world. The inspiration for this collection of stories came during a visit to an Iraqi art museum, where Raffo found a painting of a woman that transfixed her. "I stood motionless in front of the painting. I felt she had captured something within me. I took a photo of the painting, came back to America and over the last ten years have been digesting this painting and what it must mean to be an Iraqi woman now," she comments on her website.

In August 2003, Raffo opened her show at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, exploring her own questions about what it meant to be an Iraqi woman. Captivating audiences with the experiences and emotions that her words brought to life, the show soon moved to the Bush Theatre in London’s Off-West End, where it was hailed as one of the five best plays in London by local critics. Since then "9 Parts of Desire" has been presented by theater groups throughout the United States and translated for productions in Brazil, Greece, Sweden, Turkey and France.

In 2005 Raffo received a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show and was nominated for both an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance. Last spring Raffo was honored with the 2009 Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Sciences for her outstanding achievement as an alumna of the college.

-Lyndsey Scully

In 2008, "9 Parts of Desire" was one of the most frequently produced plays in America. On October 8, 2009, Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company will present a local performance of Raffo’s award-winning show, with performances continuing throughout the month of October. For more information about this show go to or call (619) 342-7395.