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S E C T I O N Artscene People and performances in Arts and Entertainment. ■ February 29, 2012 A LSO INSIDE |C A LE N DA R 21 |R E A L E S TAT E 22 |CL AS S I F I E D S 26 Building a bridge, word by word Menlo Park playwright Margy Kahn hopes to further cultural understanding in work premiered at the Pear Avenue Theatre By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor M argy Kahn has been enthralled by language for almost as long as she can remember. From writing parodies and plays in elementary school, to choosing linguistics as her field of study in college, she has kept an alert ear open to the nuances of how people express themselves as they interact with each other and the world. So it comes as no surprise that, even as she has pursued a range of careers outside the field of writ- ing — from software development decades ago to teaching and music performance in the present — Ms. Kahn, a longtime Menlo Park resident, has continued writing as an avocation. Local playgoers will have a chance to experience Ms. Kahn’s latest project when the Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View premieres “Familiar Strangers,” which will be performed from March 2 through 18, with a preview on March 1. “Familiar Strangers” is Ms. Kahn’s first full-length play, but she is not a stranger to Pear audiences. The theater has staged five Above: Margy Kahn, wrapped in a hand-dyed silk scarf from northwestern Iran, at the Pear Avenue Theatre. of her one-act plays over the years through its Pear Slices festivals. The new play reflects Ms. Kahn’s deep appreciation of Persian culture as it explores relationships among Iranian immigrants living in Los Angeles in 1991. It is set during the Iranian festival of “No Rooz” — New Day — which is the first day of spring and also the Persian new year. As happens with many immigrant families, there are cultural conf licts between generations, represented by Massoumeh, who arrived in L.A. with husband and daughter before the 1979 revolu- tion in Iran, and Donya, now a teenager shaped by an American childhood. The family had been split 12 years earlier when Massoumeh’s husband, Ali, returned to Iran to help in the revolution to depose the shah. But the tension between mother and daughter over cultural issues is intensified by the unexpected return of Ali, who introduces still more “sturm und drang” into the equation. The drama of “Familiar Strangers” is tempered by Ms. Kahn’s See KAHN, page 20 On the cover: The playwright on the Pear Avenue Theatre stage. Almanac photos by Michelle Le February 29, 2012 N The Almanac N17

The Almanac 02.29.2012 - Section 2

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