What does “home” mean and what will we do to protect it?

Noura challenges our notions of belonging, shame, and sacrifice through a portrait of Iraqi immigrants in New York. As Noura and her husband Tariq prepare to celebrate a traditional Christmas, she looks forward to welcoming a special guest—Maryam, a young Iraqi refugee. But the girl’s arrival opens wounds the family has tried to leave behind, forcing them to confront where they are, where they’ve been and who they have become.

Award-winning playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire) draws on personal stories of Arab American women responding to A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama of one mother’s struggle to balance her duty with her identity. Noura’s Middle East premiere follows its world-premiere production at Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theater Company in February 2018.

Heather Raffo is the solo performer and writer of the Off Broadway hit, 9 Parts of Desire which details the lives of nine Iraqi women. For her creation and performance of 9 Parts and its national and international tour, Heather garnered many awards including a Lucille Lortel Award, and the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn and Marian Seldes- Garson Kanin playwriting awards, as well as Helen Hayes, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations, for outstanding performance.

Heather first performed 9 Parts of Desire in August 2003 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. It later moved to the Bush Theatre in London’s Off-West End where critics hailed it as one of the five best plays in London in late 2003. It’s Off Broadway premiere was at the Manhattan Ensemble Theatre, where the show ran for nine months and was a critics pick (of the New York Times, Time Out and Village Voice) for over twenty four weeks in a row. In 2009, Heather created a concert version of the play for The Kennedy Center with renowned Iraqi maqam musician, Amir ElSaffar.

9 Parts of Desire has been performed all over the U.S. and was one of the top five produced plays of the 2007-2008 American theater season. It has had international productions/translations in Brazil, Greece, Sweden, Turkey, Malta, France, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Scotland, England and Canada. Publications are by Northwestern University Press and Dramatists Play Service as well as a number of anthologies.
Currently, Heather is developing a libretto for an opera commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation and City Opera Vancouver. The opera details the life of a US Marine who served in Fallujah in 2004 and relates the haunting experiences of identity and belonging for both veterans and their families as well as Iraqis.

Heather’s recent acting credits include: The feature film Vino Veritas, dir. Sarah Knight; Food and Fadwa, (world premiere New York Theater Workshop); In Darfur (world premiere The Public Theater, Delacourt); Palace of the End (Drama League Nomination -Epic Theater Center); Seven (Skirball Center, London’s House of Lords, Aspen Ideas Festival); The French Lieutenant’s Woman (world premiere Fulton Opera House); Over The River and Through the Woods (John Houseman); Off Broadway/National Tour of Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Mistress Page) and The Rivals all with The Acting Company. Regionally with the Old Globe Theater: Romeo and Juliet (dir. Daniel Sullivan); Othello (dir. Jack O’Brien); As You Like It (dir. Stephen Wadsworth); Macbeth (dir. Nicky Martin).

Raffo served as 2010-2011 Artist in Residence at Vassar College, sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. She enjoys an ongoing residency in the Department of Performing Arts at Georgetown University. She has taught and performed at dozens of universities and arts centers both in the United States and internationally engaging students about the politics and arts of Iraq and about her own experience as an Iraqi-American playwright and actress.

Raffo received her bachelor of arts in English from the University of Michigan and her masters of fine arts in acting performance from the University of San Diego. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London.
Originally from Michigan, Heather currently lives in New York. Her father is from Iraq and her mother American.

Joanna Settle joined the NYUAD theater program as Associate Arts Professor of Theater in September 1, 2017, bringing 20 years of education experience as well as her extensive career as a theater director to the position.

Settle recently directed the world premiere of Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s new musical The Total Bent in a twice-extended run at New York’s Public Theater. Other Public Theater credits include, Winter Miller’s In Darfur and the Finale of Suzan-Lori Park’s 365 Plays/365 Days. She also directed the world premiere of Heather Raffo’s celebrated Nine Parts of Desire at Manhattan Ensemble Theater, and for subsequent productions at theaters and art museums around the US.

She has two prominent world premieres set for the stage in 2018, including_ Noura_ by Heather Raffo, a new play about an Iraqi immigrant family living in New York that will premiere at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington D.C. in February 2018, and a new opera with Opera Philadelphia set to premiere September 2018.

Settle served as the Artistic Director of Chicago’s Division 13 Productions from 1998 to 2004 and directed and adapted 15 of D13’s 17 projects, including BLOOD LINE: The Oedipus/Antigone Story, two plays by Sophocles, Macbett by Ionesco, and several Samuel Beckett shorts including Cascando and Play. She served as Artistic Director of Shakespeare on the Sound 2009 to 2012, where she directed free outdoor Shakespeare productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet for audiences of up to 2,000 people per night.