Behind Their Eyes: Stories of Afghan Women Alive and Among Us | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Behind Their Eyes: Stories of Afghan Women Alive and Among Us 

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Though Afghanistan just adopted a new constitution establishing equal rights for women, the term "equal" remains painfully relative--there's still no protection against girls being forced into matrimony. However, for those who've suffered through the communists, civil war, and the Taliban, the constitution is a symbol of hope. Tammy Meneghini--a former Chicago actor now living in Lincoln, Nebraska--has teamed up with that town's Angels Theatre Company to create a piece based on the stories of Afghan women living in the United States. Judith Hart, founder of Angels, and Diana Simonzadeh join Meneghini in performing this affecting, informative collage of stories, songs, and dances directed by Cecilie Keenan. Together they weave tales of real-life terror--children strangled in front of their mothers, girls having their fingers amputated for wearing nail polish--into powerful portraits of resistance and courage. Several of the women interviewed are teachers who intend to return to help rebuild their country--where, as one woman poignantly observes, under the Taliban "children could carry Kalashnikovs, but not a book." There's plenty of anger and anguish in Behind Their Eyes, and concern that advances in human rights are illusory. "The violence has not stopped," one woman says. "It has only become more secretive." Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 312-742-8497. Opens Thursday, January 8, 7:30 PM. Through January 17: Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM. $15.

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