Over a period of approximately five months starting on July 19, 1988, thousands of political dissidents were subjected to enforced disappearance and state-sponsored executions. Many endured cruel punishments and torture before their death. The killings have been described as a political purge (Abrahamian, Ervand). Some prisoners were released after serving their sentences, and are currently living in exile around the world.
Behind the Stained Walls is based on real stories of former Iranian political prisoners, and is inspired by the first hand accounts of survivors living in exile in Toronto. Many participants, creative collaborators and donors chose to remain anonymous to protect their safety. We hope that this work will serve to honour the memory of those who lost their lives, will reflect the stories of those who survived, and will be a voice for those who are presently living this reality. We thank the former political prisoners who bravely and candidly shared their stories with us, and the private donors who supported this project.
Behind the Stained Walls was part of the Words, Colour, Movement project facilitated by Dr. Shahrzad Mojab and Bethany J. Osbourne, as well as Dr. Mojab’s project Memories, Memoirs, and the Arts: Women Political Prisoners.
The research process for this work began in 2010 after a chance meeting with professor Mojab at the University of Toronto. Over many months, Roshanak immersed herself into research by studying prison memoirs, reading books, watching films and interviewing survivors. What began as an interest in learning about these important stories, led to unexpected friendships and eventually a short artistic work with the encouragement of the participants who shared their stories with her. Roshanak remains a resident artist with the project Political Prisoners: The Art of Resistance in the Middle East.
Director & Choreographer – Roshanak Jaberi
Mentor & Dramaturge – Debbie Wilson
Created with & performed by – Lina Jiminez, Miranda Liverpool, Lua Shayenne, Roshanak Jaberi
Videographer & Editor – Joel Gordon
Composer – Anonymous
Photos – Nzeghwua Anderson
Hart House Theatre
Toronto Arts Council
Ontario Arts Council
University of Toronto