Carry it with you : trauma and identity in Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire and Noura.

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Heather Raffo, an acclaimed Iraqi-American playwright, is best known for her dramatic narratives, 9 Parts of Desire and Noura, which focus on Iraq and Iraqi women. Trained as an actor, Raffo felt compelled to write the culturally conscious and identity-informed roles for herself which were lacking in Western theatre. As part of the cohort of rising Middle Eastern and North African playwrights, her plays focus on representing both trauma and identity. While trauma studies has only more recently been applied to performance, Raffo’s corpus is apt for analyses from the lenses of represented historical, cultural, and personal trauma, as well as consideration in light of spectator- and witnesship. After an introduction in the first chapter, in the second chapter this thesis establishes the biography of Raffo and a brief production history of her work. Next, the third chapter surveys trauma studies and establishes the theoretical structures which will be applied to Raffo’s texts. Through analyses of the narratives, the fourth chapter examines represented trauma in 9 Parts of Desire while the fifth evaluates the same in Noura. This thesis then concludes that Raffo’s plays, as a whole, can be read as a commentary on Middle Eastern, North African, and specifically, Iraqi identity and representation, on both stage and page, of the trauma associated with those lived experiences.

Trauma studies. Heather Raffo, 9 Parts of Desire. Noura, MENA identity. Middle Eastern and North African experiences. Iraq. Iraqi American. MENA theatre. Theatre and trauma.