One Dance at a Time is based on Maryam Zahid’s personal story. Maryam, an activist in Western Sydney’s Afghan community, started the online group ‘Afghan Women on the Move’. After establishing this large network, she started hosting monthly Afghan women’s-only social nights at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre. Her play tells this story.
We asked Maryam to share an excerpt of the play with us.
Laila, the event organizer, waits for people to arrive:
When I meet God I am going to have a lot of questions to ask him.
Yes, when I meet you I have a lot of questions to ask.
I’ll start with something like this, to explain myself:
Please don’t think I am questioning your love towards your creation. But, I have to tell you … I am worried about what is really happening on earth in your name. I love you very much. I believe in you. I see you in everything.
You have written us into life. Created us. But do you hear and see how men interpret your intentions? Did you really write this story for women, or did our men make it up.
What is her story? That good woman who sits quietly – maybe behind her veil – not really there, not showing any feelings, not moving a muscle, not making a sound; still. Does she have a story besides perfection, beauty, service, sacrifice? Is her story simply about being good at being the good woman?
Why can’t we write our own stories?
Actually, I have to tell you a story god – please bear with me. It’s a sort of a gossipy type of story. You don’t mind? Oh, you don’t. Really? What did you say? Wait. Is that … a woman’s voice I hear? God, are you actually … ok, ok, ok. Just saying. Sorry. Forgive me. I have a vivid imagination. But I’m sure I heard… anyway, like I was saying …
Rokshana, a woman who attends the dance
This is first time in life… the lights off, music loud and I dance. No one looking me. I have in Australia 13 years but never chance to go out and enjoy. Just only women, we can just be us. I want stand on the mountain top, I want scream: nothing so good as to have a free soul and mind, to choose your own peace. Take my gold necklaces, have, have, take. Take away my 10 meter curtain. It’s no sun in my house – I have to sneaky beak my neighbour – and it’s no sun in my soul. Give my soul back to me.
By Maryam Zahid
Project initiated and curated by Maria Mitar.
Script development/writing mentoring by Robert Colman.