Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness
The lights and cameras are all in position. The moderator takes a last quick look at his notes. The final seconds of the intro ad roll by, and then the show goes live. Tonight’s guest is Maryam, a young woman condemned to death for murdering her husband. With her in the studio is Mona, the daughter of the dead man. Maryam is supposed to beg for forgiveness, and her life, for the camera. If Mona grants her forgiveness, Maryam will live, and the show's sponsors will pay Mona a reward. If she denies it, Maryam will die. Millions of television viewers are tuning in on the night of Yalda, the Persian celebration of the winter solstice, to see Maryam's fate unfold. Alluding to a real, popular Iranian TV show, the television studio serves as a stage for a startling chamber play between these two women, and the social pressures behind their circumstances.