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Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Anna Khaja
March 1, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Writer/Actress.

What is your show about?
In 2007, Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned from exile to unite a nation bitterly divided. Taking place minutes before her assassination, Shaheed explores Pakistan’s complex relationship with the U.S., the depths of religious fundamentalism, and a people’s struggle to reclaim their nation, freedom, and faith.

Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
I think there are kinds of theater that I'm better suited for than others, but I secretly dream of trying every style possible - especially if it were to challenge me and push my limits. I probably wouldn't do musical theater, for the audience's sake...but I wish I could.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this winter that...?
is about Islam, democracy and the true and beautiful meaning of the word "jihad."

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
I think there are many moments that the audience does not expect. The play is about Benazir Bhutto, yes...but, ultimately, I hope it is about much more.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Spielberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman?
A tie between Meryl and Philip.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I sure hope so. People (not just corporations) create societal change. Culture is a mirror for the people...reflecting, refracting, reenforcing messages, ideas, struggles of the time. And theater is still an essential part of Culture.