Recently I had the very fortunate opportunity to meet for the first time and speak with a long time supporter of EMERGENCY USA, Mr. Shahin Shakibi. We spoke via telephone and Mr. Shakibi was immediately very friendly, and welcomed me most graciously to the organization. Shahin is currently in the process of rehearsing a comedic play for the Washington Theatre Group in D.C. that he is producing, directing, and starring in, “Geda Ali in America.” The play was adapted from the original Iranian play “Teshneye Entegham,” written by the prominent Iranian playwright Dr. Gholam Hossein Sa’edi. The play will be performed entirely in Farsi, and partial ticket proceeds will go to EMERGENCY USA. Because of this tremendous volunteer project I thought it would be great to interview him for our blog.
It’s always very interesting and usually quite moving for me to hear one of our strongest supporters explain why he or she has decided to get involved with EMERGENCY USA, and I must say Shahin’s answer did not disappoint. He is originally from Iran, and served as a soldier in the Iraq-Iran war approximately 30 years ago. He explained, “I have a very strong connection to war zones. As you know, war is not a good thing and never ever goes out of anybody’s mind who’s experienced it.” So in 2008 when he was putting on a different theatrical production, he was interested in donating part of his show’s ticket sales to a nonprofit that was doing some good for people affected by war. He researched a few organizations and discovered EMERGENCY USA. After meeting with then-President Graziella Costanzo, and hearing first-hand accounts about the ways in which “the organization was directly helping […] injured war patients around the world,” his attention was caught. Because of his background, his close association to the pangs of war, and the amazing help that EMERGENCY provides to civilian victims of war, Shahin chose EMERGENCY USA as his nonprofit of choice; and ever since has dedicated much of his time to supporting E-USA efforts.
Moving on to discuss Shahin’s play specifically, Shahin explained that since coming to the U.S., unfortunately he has had limited time to spend practicing his beloved craft, but has made the effort to produce a play every couple of years. And has always donated part of the ticket proceeds to EMERGENCY USA.
Shahin went on to speak about the plot of the play, which relates the story of a homeless Iranian man and his interactions with other Iranians in America. The play is supposed to be quite hilarious, but the real message of the play that Shahin hopes the audience walks away with goes much deeper. The play is about “the closeness of people.” It’s about how people should “accept [other] people the way they are, and live in peace, and be open-minded rather than trying to change each other and their beliefs.” The message is to “practice openness, understanding, peace, respect and harmony toward each other, rather than hate. I believe [the play] shares a similar message with EMERGENCY.”
And that message is absolutely key to why Shahin Shakibi produces his plays. He wants people to walk away with the overarching message behind them. “The most important part of this project for me is to promote openness, peace and harmony […]The message of the play is the most important part for me.” He asserts that people walking away thoughtful about the play and the message behind the play are the best parts of his projects; it’s this aspect that makes him most happy.
Shahin’s play will be performed at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre, located at 125 S. Old Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22204 on May 12, 2013 at 7:30 PM.
Thank you Shahin!