News & Views
PEN actors play reading for Sarkuhi in New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 1998
PEN AND ACTORS STUDIO STAGE PLAY READING
ABOUT IMPRISONED IRANIAN EDITOR FARAJ SARKUHI
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Diana Ayton-Shenker tel. (212) 334-1660 [w]; (718) 230-0655 [h]; fax (212) 230-0655
On Monday, January 26, PEN and the Actors Studio will stage the American premiere reading of Look, Europe!, written by London-based Iranian playwright Ghazi Rabihavi and inspired by the plight of imprisoned Iranian editor Faraj Sarkuhi. Patricia Bosworth, author of the highly acclaimed memoir Anything Your Heart Desires, is producing the reading, which will be directed by Tom Palumbo. Harold Pinter staged a previous reading of the play in London for Index on Censorship; the New York reading will feature a stellar cast, including Ron Rifkin (Cabaret), Adam Alexi-Malle (Goose Pimples), and David Margulies (Bashevis).
The play depicts the ordeals suffered by Sarkuhi, the editor-in-chief of a leading Iranian socioliterary journal, and an Honorary PEN Member, who was arrested on January 27, 1997, and is serving a one-year prison term on charges of "espionage" and "slandering" the Islamic Republic. The reading on the eve of Sarkuhi's scheduled release intends to draw attention to his case as a symbol of the oppression endured by writers in Iran. Sarkuhi is among the 134 writers who signed a petition in 1994 calling for greater freedom of expression. Since the "Declaration of 134", three signatories have died under mysterious circumstances, and countless others have suffered harassment, censorship, and violence. In response, PEN has spearheaded a major campaign led by prominent members Edward Albee, Paul Auster, Nadine Gordimer, Arthur Miller, Edward Said, and Michael Scammell, to protect Sarkuhi, secure his release, and defend the rights of the 134 and all writers in Iran.
Sarkuhi was first detained incommunicado on November 4, 1996, on his way to Germany to visit his wife. For seven weeks there was no news of his whereabouts, while Iranian authorities claimed that Sarkuhi had boarded a flight to Germany a claim he was forced to confirm at a press conference on the following December 20, when he mysteriously "reappeared" at the Tehran airport, escorted by armed officials. Before his official arrest in January 1997, he smuggled out a letter in which he revealed that he had been held in Tehran by the Iranian intelligence service, and subjected to torture and forced to sign false "confessions." In September 1997, Sarkuhi was sentenced in a closed trial to one year in prison. Recently, libelous articles citing his alleged confessions were published in the Iranian press, alarming human rights activists and his family. Sarkuhi is scheduled to be released from prison on January 27, 1998.
The play reading will take place at 8:00 p.m., on Monday, January 26, at the Actors Studio, 432 West 44th Street in New York.