‘Disclaimer’ by Alumna Tara Ahmadinejad ’14 Plays at The Under The Radar Festival
BY Robbie Armstrong, April 6, 2021
Disclaimer, written and performed by alumna Tara Ahmadinejad ’14 returned to the Public Theater’s Under The Radar Festival in January. The reimagined Under The Radar Festival featured eight digital productions, offering no cost viewing options for Disclaimer. Ahmadinejad’s play is created in partnership with Piehole, a New York based production company that Ahmadinejad co-founded in 2008. Disclaimer previously played the 2020 Under The Radar Festival in a live presentation and was adapted to a virtual performance model for the 2021 production.
Disclaimer begins as an alleged Persian cooking class on Zoom where Ahmadinejad stars as Nargis Saleem, an Iranian American woman flailing in her attempts to teach her class how to cook Sabzi Polo, a dish traditionally served for the Persian New Year. The show incorporates an Agatha Christie murder mystery plotline which requires audience members to actively join the show. Some audience members are “murdered” while others are called upon to engage in culturally appropriative actions, like wearing a headscarf or doing an Iranian accent. Ahmadinejad’s character perversely delights in dangling the carrot of permission from a real-life Iranian American to act out stereotypes. But Disclaimer doesn’t quite let the moment of discomfort occur as Nargis interrupts audience members from going through with their tasks, saving them from potential humiliation.
Ahmadinejad co-directed Disclaimer alongside her husband Jeff Wood, another founding member of Piehole. Disclaimer was developed to be a live performance piece but with creative rewrites and new staging, became the digital production seen at the 2021 Under The Radar Festival. While they could have opted to perform on a minimalist set at the Public Theater, the Disclaimer team opted to rent an AirBnB in Brooklyn where they set up props, lighting, audio, and cameras for the live streamed production.
Tara Ahmadinejad is a director, originally from Philadelphia. She has directed/co-created shows with Piehole since its founding in 2008. She develops and directs new plays, and teaches and directs in educational settings. She directed Lunch Bunch by Sarah Einspanier as part of Clubbed Thumb's Winterworks, is developing Emily Black is a Total Gift by alumna Daaimah Mubashshir ’15 with music by Julia Sirna-Frest and Shane Chapman, and directed Leap and the Net Will Appear by Chana Porter, produced by New Georges in June 2019. New Georges Affiliated Artist; NYTW Usual Suspect.
Disclaimer is available for viewing on YouTube through April 15, 2021. A virtual discussion about the creation of the play, featuring Ahmadinejad and the Disclaimer production team, is also available on YouTube.