On October 15, 2014, 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was on death row for the murder of Morteza Abdolai Sarbandi, an intelligence ministry officer, met with Sarbandi's son at the Tehran Criminal Court, for their final 'Peace and Reconciliation meeting'. Sarbandi's son had made his intentions clear - Jabbari would be forgiven if she told "the truth about the incident," which, according to him, was that his father had never tried to rape her. Jabbari could have had her life back, but she refused to waver from the truth about her assailant. She was hanged on October 25, amidst global condemnation of the execution. Jabbari was imprisoned at the age of 19 for killing her alleged assailant. In 2014, she published written accounts of her time in prison, the torture, and the solitary confinement.
Closer home in Mumbai, Faezeh Jalali, an acclaimed theatre person and founder of the collaborative, FATS Thearts, Mumbai, found herself utterly moved by Jabbari's tragedy. "I believe that you don't go looking for a story to enact, you let it find you. This one did," she said, speaking to DC before 7/7/07 premiers in Bengaluru. "I got in touch with her mother, Sholeh, who was a very big part of her daughter's life and asked if we could adapt it to the stage." Sholeh, a theatre person herself and avid supporter of the arts, agreed at once. Sholeh had been subject to a number of insensitive media reports, dealing with questions like, "How do you feel about your daughter being hanged?" "Every time I typed a message to Sholeh, I would cry," Faezeh recalled.
"She was tortured regularly, which she talks about in her writing," Faezeh explained. Seven actors play Jabbari in the devised performance, which came together as an ensemble effort, after extensive research on the case. Jabbari begins her story as a 19-year-old terrified at the prospect of dying and ends as a 26-year-old who is completely unafraid.
7/7/07 is an anecdotal recounting of Jabbari's life in prison. "There was one phase marked by hope and enthusiasm, where she wants to finish her education. After the first court hearing, though, things snowballed into a big mess."
Their challenge, really, was to maintain the universality of Jabbari's tragic story, for her experience was very unique. "More than anything, we wanted to stay above judgment and keep away from finding fault with a particular justice system, because they all have their similarities."
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