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Heartland

by Gabriel Jason Dean

Liaison Pirronne Yousefzadeh

In 1984, USAID and the CIA commissioned the University of
Nebraska's Center for Afghanistan Studies to create textbooks
for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are filled with violent
images and militant Islamic teachings -- talk of jihad and
drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers, and mines – subtle, coercive
propaganda meant to stimulate resistance against the
U.S.S.R. HEARTLAND, commissioned by Interact Theatre,
is inspired by these true events. In the play, Dr. Harold Banks
is a renowned professor of Central Asian Literature at the University
of Nebraska. When an Afghan refugee named Nazrul suddenly
arrives at his doorstep claiming to know his adopted daughter,
Greta– a foreign aid worker who was killed in a Taliban attack
–the two men spend the next few months as unlikely roommates.
Heartland unfolds as an emotional journey through love and loss,
an examination of culpability and, ultimately, a meditation on the
power of forgiveness.

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