In 2010, just after the contested 2009 Iranian election, during riots urging the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office, writer/director Sarah Chew went to Iran on a theatre residency. The experience changed her life. Lipstick: a fairy tale of modern Iran is inspired by that time, driven by the passionate desire to address the rise in hard borders and cultural and ethnic exclusion – from a political and from a personal perspective.
Lipstick is about how it feels to be making sincere, charged, powerful art, even under the threat of censorship and imprisonment. At that time, Iran was part of a collection of Middle Eastern territories the US Government still titled “the Axis of Evil”. Prior to visiting, the title had coloured Sarah’s assumptions of what she would find there – assumptions which were challenged, on a daily basis, throughout her stay. When she got home, Lipstick, was born.
Sarah says “Sadly, we don’t have to look too far outside the edges of our own nation to see borders that threaten our capacity to engage with people we see as different to ourselves. As Brexit looms ever closer, what is it doing to our perceptions of people we see as Other? What does the threat of a hard border in Ireland do to our already heightened fear of terrorism?
What role does tightened immigration here, and our Government’s tacit acceptance of Trump’s travel bans in the US, play in this? How do we fight to keep our personal, emotional borders open, while all around us, governments build physical and ideological walls?
And what does our Foreign Office’s apparent abandonment of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently imprisoned without fair trial in Tehran’s notorious Evin Women’s Prison, say about our national attitudes to those on the wrong side of a difficult border? What power do we have to say: not in my name?”
Lipstick: a fairy tale of modern Iran is at Omnibus Theatre 26th February to 24th March 2019.