Kayhan Irani

Kayhan Irani is an Emmy award winning writer, a performer, and a Theater of the Oppressed trainer.Through theater, storytelling, and art-making, her work creatively addresses real-world issues and builds spaces for interaction, dialogue, and deeper civic engagement.

Kayhan directs participatory arts projects with government agencies, community based organizations, international NGOs, and with the general public. She has led theater for change projects in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Her work has been supported by the BBC World Service Trust, The Environmental Protection Agency, Bronx Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Her published work includes Telling Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice Claims (Routledge, 2008).

Kayhan is currently a Fulbright-Nehru scholar in India.


September 30, 2012

There is a very simple exercise that we do in the Theater of the Oppressed to demonstrate the essence of a conflict: two people stand face to face; one person says, “I want it” and the other person replies “You can’t have it.” They repeat these, and only these, phrases to one another—each person trying to get the other to concede to her will by modulating her voice, moving her body, etc. The battle of wills, one desire against another, is a simple way to define conflict. In the real world conflict is layered with complexity.