Image source: the Geutanyoe Foundation

Politically resonant, emotionally stirring and socially transformative, Screaming in Silence, performing on July 14th as part of the George Town Festival, promises to be a powerful play. Directed by award-winning director and writer Saleh Sepas, this production follows Nazanin, a 12-year old girl in Afghanistan, whose father and wider community force her to marry a much older man. We track Nazanin as she attempts to access freedom, yet is failed by those around her.

Crucially, this tragic storyline is not exclusive to the realms of theatre. In fact, according to charity Girls Not Brides, every year approximately 12 million girls are married before they reach their 18th birthday — the equivalent of 23 girls married every minute, or almost 1 girl married every 2 seconds. Director Saleh Sepas makes this violation of human rights central to his tragic play, using theatre to heighten awareness of such.

Image source: the Geutanyoe Foundation

While political imperative is the backbone to the storyline of Screaming in Silence, social agenda is integral to its production. Performed by Parastoo Theatre Team, this is a group consisting of Afghan refugees in Malaysia, set up in 2017 by the play’s director, Saleh Sepas, who himself is an Afghan refugee who was forced to flee Kabul with his family. This theatre group gives members a platform through which to express their experiences and vitally discover a sense of community.

Screaming in Silence, like all of Parastoo Theatre Team’s productions, also create an all-important dialogue between these refugees and viewers. As Sepas has said, “theatre can transform our perception of the other but also of ourselves” by building “understanding between different cultures, languages and experiences”. And this is a dialogue that is imperative in Malaysia, as a country which holds almost 174,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, as of May 2019 according to the UN. And despite their high numbers, these people are not granted protection or legal recognition: denied the right to work legally or access public services, many are even subject to arrest, detention and deportation.

Image source: Parastoo Theatre Team Facebook Page

Saleh Sepas, before and since arriving in Malaysia, has led a successful career in theatre, film, TV and radio for over ten years. His most notable project to date has been the BBC radio drama New Home for New Life — having aired for over 25 years, this project took plot lines from real-life stories of Afghani people, tackling themes such as human rights and freedom of expression which resound again in Screaming in Silence.

Having performed to great acclaim last year in Kuala Lumpur, Screaming in Silence is a key highlight of the George Town Festival programme. Not only an absorbing production, it offers an intricate exploration of the real plight of underage marriages as well as giving a platform to often underrepresented refugees. As Sepas remarks, “refugees have voices, and this theatre is one way to bring the voices of refugees closer to Malaysians”.

Image source: the Geutanyoe Foundation

Where? – Auditorium A, KOMTAR
When? – Sunday 14th July, 3pm & 8:30pm
How much? – RM50, RM35 (concessions)
For who? – 12+
Get your tickets here –

Written by: Eleanor Ohlsen