WHY ARE YOU KILLING YOURSELF: an audio piece by Zaina Dana and talkback with Pig Iron artists
Pig Iron is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the radio version of Why Are You Killing Yourself? by writer and director Zaina Dana, Assistant Director of Love Unpunished, on Zoom on September 13, 2021. We will follow up with a discussion with some of the artists who worked on Zaina’s piece and some of the artists who worked on Love Unpunished, two very different works that stem from artists contemplating “how we talk about 9/11."
I’ve had this show in my mind for the past year. The inspiration for it actually came from one of my favorite seminars I’ve taken at Swarthmore, Holy War, Martyrdom, and Suicide in Abrahamic Religions. Throughout the process of writing this show, people have asked if there are real world analogues to the characters portrayed on stage. There are so few Palestinian or even Arabs on stage that it’s worth clarifying that I’m not the girl on stage. I never had an ex-boyfriend like that and my mom is definitely not the mom on stage. I wrote a play about a Muslim, about a Palestinian girl that is not autobiographical, but rather a mirror on the insecurities that can fester in our communities.
For people of color who are second- and third-generation Americans, there is a severe bastardizing of our self-image that happens as a result of assimilation in America. And this isn’t by accident. We have to remember that much of what we consume day to day is propaganda and that propaganda deeply impacts how we see ourselves and the rest of the world, whether our parents were born and raised in America or not. For younger people, like for example the age of my younger brother who grew up well after 9/11, they were born into a world order that’s already in motion.
Combine this with deafening levels of information and stimulus. It’s easy then, for young people—for young women—to get lost in all the information. There are so many forces that profit off our apathy and our self-deprecation, and it seems like there are an infinite number of ways to critique and cage women of color.
And many of us can’t help being brought up in the United States, coming of age constantly pulled between religious, generational, inter-continental and gender divides. So what do we actually owe the policies of the past? And can we actually move past or perhaps heal from the trauma of our parents to reclaim our identities? And can we actually revolt against our real oppressors?
It’s been 20 years since 9/11, and it feels like things haven’t really changed all that much, even with a new president. The shifting of the world order is far too monumental for myself at least in my youth to perceive. But I don’t mean to be a pessimist. In fact I’m very hopeful about the future.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to put this piece together. It has been a privilege working with such talented and thoughtful actors and designers. My hope is that out of a play about apathy and violence that we can find one message of hope, of power, of faith, and another message to please stop doing plays about 9/11.