Truth and Treason – by Rahul Varma

Iraq is roiling under the American occupation and America is preparing to host the Conference for the Democracy and Salvation of Iraq in Baghdad. One day, in front of the conference, a little girl called Ghazal Ahad, daughter of an Iraqi writer Omar Ahad, jailed by the dictator Saddam, is shot by an unidentified American soldier. Critically wounded Ghazal requires immediate blood transfusion, which, due to a rare medical condition, could come only from her father Omar, who is still in prison.

Captain Edward Alston, in-charge of the checkpoint, tries to arrange for the transfusion, and is about to let the girl’s distraught Canadian mother Nahla join her daughter, when he is overruled by Commander Hektor Frank, who insists that Omar Ahad, is a “terrorist” . While Edward argues with Hektor that even a terrorist has a right to save his daughter — Ghazal dies in U.S. custody.

In the follow-up, a fundamentalist Sheikh declares a fatwa on Edward, the Iraqi Prime Minister finds his government threatened, and Hektor, who harbors a secret past, is forced to “protect”  both the army and himself.

At the vortex of this chaos unfolds an intensely private drama of grief, revenge and forgiveness. As the turmoil tightens around them, we are led to question not only what comprises “war”  and “terror”, but how, where and by whom the real “war on terror” is fought…

Truth and Treason premiered in 2009 in Montreal. It is a fictional not a documentary play.

Setting: Iraq and US
Time Period: Present

Cast Size: 10
Captain Edward Alston:  American officer-in-charge of the checkpoint.
Commander Hektor Frank:  Top ranking US military officer.
Kendra Cox: A black woman who is organizer of the conference for democracy and salvation.
Omar Abdul Ahad:  Iraqi poet.
Nahla Abdul Ahad : A Canadian woman of Arab descent
Ghazal Ahad :  Nahla and Omar’s ten-year-old daughter.
Samir Rashid :  An Iraqi citizen
Ahmed :  An Iraqi policeman.
Prime Minister :  Iraqi Prime Minister.
Iraqi Clergyman :  He is known as Sheik.
Trista Sanchar :  A Canadian journalist
Chorus : playing street people, medical crew, watchtower, headquarter, soldier 1 and 2.

Design Needs:
This Play Is: unpublished

Production History:

  • May 2007 (Toronto): Workshop and public reading at Factory Theatre’s Crosscurrent program, directed by Soheil Parsa of Modern Time theatre.
  • November 2007 (Montreal): Workshop under the direction of Indiaâ s renowned director Habib Tanvir at Playwrights Workshop, Montreal
  • May 2008 (Toronto): Follow-up workshop and public reading at Factory Theatre’s Crosscurrent program, directed by Guillermo Verdecchia.
  • November 2008 (Montreal): Workshop and public reading at the Monument National under the direction of Arianna Bardesono, who would ultimately direct the production.
  • December 2008 -  January 2009 (India): Through a Shastri Indo-Canadian arts Fellowship awarded to Rahul Varma, the play was further developed in India under the direction of iconic director Habib Tanvir, to whom the production was dedicated. Canadian actor David Francis participated in the workshop in India.
  • Premiere Production: Sept, 2009 at the Monument National under the direction of Arianna Bardesono.

Awards Review Quotes:

Truth and Treason [is] a new play about the War of Terror in Iraq that is not only engrossing but will leave you thinking once the lights come up.”

“[The] panel discussion… makesTruth and Treason not only an enjoyable play but an important forum for open dialogue.”

“…in an explosion, the lights blasted onto the audience, making you feel more like a participant and less like an observer.”
Adam Avrashi, The Concordian

“…playwright Rahul Varma doesn’t spare anyone from criticism. Just as Americans are depicted as war criminals, Iraqis are depicted as a nation locked in a civil strife, torn between religious pride and a desire for peace and stability.”
Walter Joseph Lyng, The Suburban

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