Acquittal weaves together the story of four women unjustly imprisoned in Pakistan during General Zia-ul-Haq’s discriminatory Hudood Ordinances: Zahida, an activist jailed for her political activity; Marium, a pregnant rape victim in prison because she refused an abortion; Jamila, a woman denied divorce by Islamic law, who murdered her abusive husband; and Jannat Bibi, incarcerated in place of her son for theft. In this bleak 1980s prison, the women forge a bond that transcends their differences in class, ideology, and religious practice.
Pan Asian is the pioneer Asian American theater in New York City, one of the most veteran in the nation, and is at the forefront of promoting pan-Asian cultural stories previously unseen on the American stage. It was founded in 1977 by Tisa Chang with the vision that Asian American artists can equally follow their artistic aspirations to reach the zenith in American theater. Its mission is to provide professional theatre opportunities for diverse Asian American artists to work under the highest standards of excellence and create new works that dignify and dispel stereotypes, focusing on stories of probing social justice issues. Pan Asian’s artistic distinction is seen in Off -Broadway productions, tours, educational outreach, and community service.
In its 41st milestone season, I designed Acquittal for the NYC Pan Asian Rep Theatre. The background was the early 1980s when General Zia-ul-Haq ruled with the blatant ‘Islamic’ laws in Pakistan, which discriminated women and minority groups. The show focuses on 4 women in a Pakistan prison in the 1980’s and how each represents a different injustice. As a minority female, I was glad to present the themes of discrimination and social injustice in the American Theatre. My design was to research the historical context, present the appropriate form and ecological natural fabric in costumes. I utilized darker reddish color-tone to show their enraged psychological suffering. This show and my design was selected and presented in The Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists CAATA/CONFEST 2018 in the event of The 6th National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago.
Victory Gardens Theater Chicago, IL
Playwright – Shahid Nadeem
Translator – Tahira Naqvi
Director – Noelle Ghoussaini
Scene Design – You-Shin Chen
Costume Design – Hyun Sook Kim
Lighting Design – Leslie Smith
Sound Design – Sinan Refi k Zafar
Photographer – Pan Asian Repertory