EDINBURGH 2016: BWW Q&A - Who Is Tahirih
We speak to Delia Olam about her 2016 Edinburgh Fringe show 'Just let the wind untie my perfumed hair...or WHO IS TÁHIRIH?'.
What can you tell us about the show?
This play is a female solo cross-artform theatre/music show which explores - through the conflicting perspectives of five different characters - the haunting, shocking and poetic true story of the first female-suffrage martyr: a Persian, in the mid 1880s.
What was the inspiration?
The inspiration is the true story of a remarkable woman from recent history; a Persian woman given the title "Táhirih" meaning "Purity" after she publicly removed her veil (which was seen as an essentially impure act), demanding as she did that her male peers recognise this moment as a decisive breaking of the old Laws - especially those perpetuating inequalities of any kind.
She went on to live a brilliant but too-short life in which she championed equalities of all kinds, and the new religious truths that she held beloved - loudly and eloquently, despite many efforts to silence her, until she was finally executed for her beliefs, by strangulation (befitting her 'sin' of speech) at the age of 36. Before she died, she said: "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women!"
And the music plays a big part?
The music plays a central part! Táhirih was moderately famous, within her lifetime, as a "poetess" of Rumi-esque ability (having been given and unlikely and extensive education by her liberal mullah father). Her translated poems, set to music with cello and Appalachian dulcimer, are her own "voice" within the play, and are woven in between or inside of most of the other scenes - depicting her father, her friend, her servant, and her executioner variously.
Why is it important for people to see this play?
Europe is in a state of unrest. The UK is in political turmoil. America is experiencing its own political and social distress. This is a play that reminds people of peace, equality, religious and cultural freedom, beauty, intelligence and harmony. It is a play that asks the question, "Might we find solutions from the past if we look and listen hard enough?"
What sets it apart from the thousands of other shows at the festival?
- This unbelievable yet true story.
- This woman, Táhirih, who stands out from history as an entirely new 'archetype' of woman.
- The spirit of HOPE that it embodies, and offers.
- The way that her beautiful poetry, set to music, is woven in such an integrated way through the storytelling of the play - keeping the eyes and ears refreshed, and inspired!
Timings and ticket information for Just let the wind untie my perfumed hair...or WHO IS TAHIRIH? are available on the edfringe website.