The influence of Iranian traditional theater on modern theater
Dr. Ali Shams
A look at Western-style theater
As I mentioned in the second chapter, the first Western style of theater was presented in Iran, after the founding of the Meli Theater (National Theater) in 1911 and after the constitutional revolution. Writers and intellectuals began translating European comedies and original Persian plays were also written. Kamal Alvozara (1875-1930), Mirza Deshghi (1893-1925), Seedi (1935-1985), Beyzaei (1938) and Radi (1938-2008) are the most famous playwrights of modern Iranian theater since the time of the Pahlavi dynasty. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 stopped all cultural activities of the Shah's regime including theater and started different types of cultural programs with Islamic standards. Imam Khomeini (1902-1989), the leader of the Islamic revolution, repeatedly made references to the arts in his speeches: "Only those kinds of arts and artists who tell the story of the poor and poverty and fight with capitalists who rape property people are acceptable. Art must challenge modern capitalism and communism, showing both social problems and the political, military and economic crisis. " This thesis draws attention to theatrical activities in Iran after the Islamic revolution and discusses how theater and artists have been able to act within a religious system.
Based on the history of contemporary Iran, the history of Iranian modern theater can be divided into two parts: before and after the revolution. We begin by examining the effect of theatrical rituals and traditions on contemporary theater in Iran.
I have previously mentioned Ru Howzi and other stories from various sources, mainly from Persian folk tales; these were various types of theatrical, historical, epic, fantastic works dealing with everyday reality. Siah Bazi did not use scenarios except for the realization of a scene painted on canvas, usually a view of a garden, even if there was no relationship between the painted canvas and the subject of the show. Also, the use of a fake beard and mustache was normal for the actors. The actors also built small wooden frames and drew in front of the spectators. This was due to the turn of the century and Ru Howzi's evolution towards the underground theater, before mid-1848th-century theater houses used a painted landscape as a backdrop. Since the second quarter of the twentieth century, Ru Howzi has moved to a permanent place called Lale Zar, Tehran's entertainment center. The European-style scenery has become commonplace for Ru Howzi in theaters. As I have already explained, during the Qajar dynasty, especially during the reign of Naser din Shah who ruled Persia from 1896 to XNUMX, both the tragic theater of Iran Ta'zie and the comic theater Siah Bazi grew in two opposite directions. Shah's self-interest played an important role in this process.
The arrival of the Western-style theater was part of the modernization process in Iran. It was introduced into society by the activities of the intellectuals and the attempts of the reformers, which had many positive consequences, during the period from 1848 to 1896. Furthermore, the propagation of modernism and democratic ideas, increasing the number of writers and newspapers and traveling to the abroad, increased the. Humanity of Iranian intellectuals aware of the significant role of theater in the process of social change. A look at Pavlovich's report on Iranian theater shows us that Iranians' acquaintance with Western theater lasted a century and took place over several eras. Initially, a bloody campaign in Georgia, made by Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar in 1796, caused a bloody theatrical link between Tehran and Tbilisi. Later, the sending of five Iranian-educated students to the UK in 1815 led to familiarity with British theater. Sending the first Iranian representatives to the Russian court in 1828 caused a visit to the St. Petersburg theater. The establishment of the Dar-al-Fonun school and the translation movement around 1851 accelerated the entry of European dramatic literature into Iran. Furthermore, these changes provided the basis for the Persian constitutional revolution. In this period Siah Bazi and Ta'zie were not yet considered as sources for creating modern theater. More than 50 years will have to pass to arrive at that day when contemporary theater will consider Siah Bazi and Ta'zie the hidden treasures to recreate a pure theater with high taste.
Regarding the authors who followed the modernization process, Malekpour writes: “Foreign writers, such as Aziz Haji Begof from Azerbaijan, were very influential. He was the founder of the opera in Iran because he converted ancient Persian literature into opera and musical comedies between the years 1907 and 1937. In addition, since 1920, authors such as Mirza Fathali Khan Akhundzadeh, Mirza Jalil Muhammad Qulizadeh and others continued to write social drama of realism. In 1922, Mirza Habib Esfahani, Ali Muhammad Khan Oveisi contributed to the creation of the classic Iranian verse dramas that had their roots in Western musical comedies ”.
The advent of a four-page diary he titled Tiart (Theater), on the fifth day of May 1908, was not only an innovation but also demonstrated the intelligence of its inventor, Mirza Reza Naini. He introduced great Western writers such as Shakespeare and Molière and then began writing the first reviews of plays; even though those reviews were not about theatrical performances, but rather were an impressionistic critique linked to the plot of the plays, they helped spread the theater. Furthermore, these social changes have had a direct influence on literature and writing style as Arianpoor puts it: “During the establishment of the Iranian constitutional revolution (1905-1907), theater became a second priority of Iranian intellectuals after journalism. Iranian authors have begun to adopt two main sources. The first source was the events that occurred during the constitutional revolution, and the second was the foreign comedies and comedies of Molière, Alexander Dumas, Friedrich Schiller, Eugène Labiche and other well-known foreign writers. The result was the formation of a particular style of writing through new choices of words and formations of sentences ”. Political protest theater has been the most sensitive voice in the history of modern Iranian theater imported from the West. Since the mid-XNUMXth century, when returning students from Europe first introduced Western theater to Tehran's elite circles, the repertoire - be it translated, adapted or newly written - has focused on social criticism. Here the role of Tudeh's Communist Party in Iranian intellectual life of the last century cannot be underestimated. The German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht is probably the most important foreign influence on Iranian dramatic writing. Censorship, of course, remains a constant. It loosens periodically, as in the brief "spring" of the first days of the revolution, or more recently under Khatami, but in the general picture this is only the ebb and flow of a force that tends to politicize every theatrical act.
Zahra Hooshmand, in an article in the Magazine magazine, writes: "The writers who seem to me more mature for the English translation are those who intertwine these three strands of the political, the avant-garde and the traditional, and who do it with sensitivity poetics that lies at the heart of Iranian cultural expression - not because they are easy, but because they are both stimulating and characteristically Iranian. Although the religious content of ta'ziye is anathema to many secular progressive writers, the form itself is a treasure house of minimalist / expressionist theatrical technique. And the traditional Iranian performing arts include not only ta'ziye, but also epic acting, puppetry and an entertainment called siabazi or ruhozi, which is similar to commedia dell'arte, although it relies more on a quick verbal wit than about a physical comedy. All these forms have been successfully extracted to some extent by contemporary playwrights. This recovery of traditional forms still alive seems to unlock a profound resonance, often through childhood memories of performances, which is absent in the kind of multicultural appropriation that is in vogue on our own stage. For a translator, the difference is subtle; I can only describe it as a kind of integrity in the writing that can make the fantastic task a little more accessible "
Ta'zie's influence on the modern Iranian theater
Bijan Mofid (1935 - 1984) was a director, musician and actor as well as a writer, totally immersed in the practical realities of the stage and rewritten extensively for each production. This willingness to respond to changing circumstances and his readiness in the translation process were every translator's dream. But dreams can take many forms. Bahram Beyzaii, whose first work is The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad, was inspired to write for the theater after a thorough study of ta'ziyeh and epic literature. Beyzai was less fortunate than Mofid in the never-ending battle against censors, and it was years before his prolific writing had the benefit of production and stage feedback. Forced isolation gave his dramatic writing the quality of a sustained narrative poem. The works he created remain complete with themselves. In the early XNUMXs Mofid left Iran due to the revolution and lived in Los Angeles translating, producing and designing plays that he had written in Iran and was eager to present to American audiences. Mofid's City of Tales was the most popular comedy ever written in Persian, shot for seven years in Tehran before the revolution and broadcast by fans in protest from the rooftops of Tehran as the revolution turned sour. This musical drama was a satirical portrait of a mullah, which consequently led to the exile of Mofid. His work was so full of allusions and unknown cultural icons, so rich in the pun of the reference to different traditional forms, that it was considered untranslatable by the standards of a stage. More accessible was his children's play The Butterfly and the brilliant poetic allegory about the fall of Mossadeq, The Moon and the Leopard. Both have the charm and deceptive simplicity of a folktale (the former traditional, the latter his own creation), but are packed with layers and layers of meaning. If an American audience understands only part of what is there, it will be even richer.
Mofid and Beyzai are two writers who have combined performative components of Western theater and Persian theatrical traditions and rituals. The current influence of Western ideas in the Iranian world really began with the restoration of the Shah in 1953, which led to the emergence of American culture on the Iranian scene. The first American to make an impact was Dr. F. Davidson who, in 1956, trained a drama course in the faculty of literature at Tehran University. He was a product of the Stanislavski method acting school and produced various plays in Iran, including The Glass Menagerie and Our Twon in the Tehran theater. The other American professor, George Quinby, who arrived in Iran in 1957, played a more important role in introducing Western theater to Iran. He founded a theater club at Tehran University. In addition to his hands-on work, he also lectured on the history and theory of American theater and trained two classes in the fine arts office, scriptwriting, and stage scenery. The first western opera George Quinby produced in Iran was Billy Budd the show was received fairly well by the public, but criticized by the university authorities as being anti-authority. His second show was, Behrman's Second Man, a high comedy with a cast of two men and two women, was enthusiastically starred by the audience, but Quinby was forced by the authorities to alter subsequent productions to rule out kissing. In the second show he used a circular space in which actors could act from all sides, shaped like Ta'zie. Quinby had also tried to encourage young playwrights by offering scriptwriting seminars to the Iran-America society in Tehran. He also brought four works by O'neill to the scene in Tehran, Isfehan and Abadan. In addition to the theatrical activities of American directors, as already mentioned, in 1957 the Iranian authorities established a drama department under the leadership of Dr. Mehdi Furugh, a graduate of the London RADA, in the office of fine arts. This department set out to spread knowledge of Western theater in various ways, awarding an annual prize for the best Iranian works and the best Western translated works, forming theater classes and groups, broadcasting theater productions on television, publishing various theatrical theories. The department, in cooperation with the Iran-America society, also hosted a festival for four nights in October 1958. The contents of the program were entertainment, music, dance, local games and an art exhibition.
In 1957, the National Office of Fine Arts was established, a faculty connected to the government but apparently dependent on the university of culture, which later became the ministry of culture and arts. The main function of this ministry was to preserve and develop culture and the arts. This office strove to spread Iran's national theater and Western theater knowledge throughout the country, employing intellectual and experienced actors, directors and writers, and independent groups who were politically radical and therefore dangerous opponents of government policies. This strategy was largely fruitful. However, most of the progressive actors and directors employed by this government bureau still made an effort to spread their social views and using the large structures that could communicate directly with people. Among the directors and actors were some who had mastered the drama in Europe, making a great effort to translate European dramas into Persian and introduce them to Iranian audiences. Most of these shows were performed on the same weekly television programs and carefully chosen according to liberal tastes, but not to fall into censorship. Some of these translations were published. Most of the educated instructors of that time were fascinated by the bsurd theater. Many modern Western works were translated and performed by these groups.
The other activities of the Office were:
1. publish a theatrical fortnightly magazine
2. found an open drama school for the study of directing, screenplay, acting, set design, etc.
3. organize tour companies throughout the country
4. award an annual prize for the best new Persian opera in order to encourage new native writers.
The first step towards a national theater
The magazine Namayesh (theater), one of the national offices of fine arts publications, won an annual award for the best new show. The winning works for the best theatrical works were: Bulbol Sargashte by Ali Nnasirian and The Immortal Soldiers of A. Jannat, The Dolls of Bijan, Mofid. Among these games, by far the best and most enduring was bulbol srgashte, who was the first editor of the magazine Namayesh at 10 vol. It was first brought to the scene in Tehran in the winter of 1958 by the National Arts Truope in the Farabi Theater. He is later brought on stage for 50 nights in the summer of 1959 in the theater of the Barbod Theater Association. It was also performed in Isfehan, Shiraz, Abadan. Additionally this show ran for four nights at Sarah Bernhardt's theater as an Iranian representative at the National festival theater in Paris in April 1960. The story was this: once upon a time there was a man who had a son and a daughter. One day the man took a woman as his wife. The children had a stepmother called "the wife of Baba". The man was a thorn gatherer and on the day he and his son wanted to go to the fields to collect thorns, Baba's wife said, “You should make a bet between yourselves. Whoever finds more thorns must cut off the other's head ”. The father and son agreed, so they left for the fields and began to gather the thorns. By chance, the son picked up more thorns than his father. When it came time to wrap their batteries, the son said to his father: "Baba dear, I am thirsty." So, the father replied: "Go to the source and quench your thirst". As his son drank, his father took a pile of thorns from the boy's piles, and put it in his pile. After they had wrapped their batteries, the father said: "We weigh our loads and see who picked the most." They weighed the thorns and the portion of the father was heavier. He grabbed his son and cut off his head. The father came home with his son's head, gave it to his wife and said, take this and fix it for dinner. Baba's wife took the boy's head, put it in a pot and lit a fire under it so that it could cook. At noon, when the girl returned from Mulla Maktab (Old School) she told Baba's wife that she was hungry. Baba replied, "well, go eat the Abgusht in the pot". When the girl lifted the lid of the pot, she recognized her brother's tuft of fur cooking in boiling water. He hit her forehead twice and exclaimed: "oh what the trouble is I lost my brother". So he ran to Mulla Maktab from his teacher, telling him what had happened. Mulla said not to touch the stew, to collect your brother's bones, wash them with rose water and bury them in the corner of the garden, plant a rose bush in the exact spot and on the night of the seventh Thursday water the bush with rose water . The little girl went and did all that was said to her and waited for the night of the seventh Thursday.
"I'm a wandering nightingale
From over the mountains and through the valley
I was killed by my coward father
For dinner, my stepmother has satiated herself
My kind-hearted sister
Seven times from the bones with washed rose water
And he spoke to me under a blossoming tree
now I'm a nightingale
desire ... desire "
Meanwhile a needle seller came and said, “What are you singing? sing it again for me ”the nightingale replied,“ very well. If you close your eyes and open your mouth, I'll sing it again. When the shopkeeper closed his eyes, the pawl quickly grabbed a claw full of needles and flew away. Then he flew to the roof of Baba's wife, perched on the roof and sang the same song. "I'm a wandering nightingale etc .."
When the song ended, Baba's wife raised her hand and said, “What are you singing? sing it again for me ”the nightingale replied,“ very well. If you close your eyes and open your mouth, I'll sing it again ”. When Baba's wife closed her eyes and opened her mouth, the nightingale dropped the needles into her mouth and flew away. Then he flew to his sister and sang her song. Etc..
In 1964, after the foundation of the ministry of culture and art, the art of theater came under the control of a new organization called the theater office. This new office sought to attract independent theater companions by directly controlling their activities. As part of this strategy, the office employed one of the famous progressive ex-members of the Nushin theater who had his own theater group, Jafari at the Kasra theater. The first major event organized by this new office was the traditional and contemporary Iranian theater festival. The festival took place in 1965 at the Sangelaj theater, a new building, built appropriately and specifically for the ministry of culture and art, in the historic center of Tehran, in the southern part of the city park. Among the festival's productions was Parviz Kkrdan's Amir Arsalan, a play based on an Iranian folk story. The play was one of the first modern plays written in the Ru Howzi style and performed in the same way. The other show in the festival, arguably the most acclaimed by the critic and the public was The Stick - Wielders of Varazil by GHSaedi, one of Iran's progressive dissident writers. This work was a point of reference for modern Iranian theatricality.
The purpose of the ministry of culture and art was to support and strengthen national art, presenting it in the country and abroad. In the world of theater, the ministry has sought to resurrect Iranian theatrical traditions. Using the elements and components and values of theatrical traditions, the artists created the Iranian theater in a modern way. There was also a program presented under the direction of Parviz Sayyad called the “Iranian Collection”, a collection of popular and traditional works. In the Naghali (Storytelling) section, an excerpt of Rustam an Sohrab (from the Book of Kings) was performed by Ali Shah, one of the most famous Naghals of Iran at the time. The Naghal was Murshid Burzu who performed an excerpt from the Iskandar Name (Book of Alexsander) another Persian epic tale. As a first result of this festival, young, talented actors, writers and directors were introduced to the art-loving public and were encouraged to further their careers. Most of these people later became the main core of the Iranian national theater. Later, following the development of cinema and television, some of these left the theater to move to more profitable and prestigious spheres. At the festival, and at the theater in general at the time, the most sustained audience came from the educated bourgeoisie, the result of the direction of social and political trends after the coup that had destroyed the emerging expectation of the working classes. In the commercial theater which was based on Lalezar Street in Tehran, the policy of the owners, supported by the government, was to divert the working classes for entertainment purposes for amusement without theatrical, social or political pretensions. Before the coup this area was the heart of the protest theater (just as in pre-Nazi Germany night clubs and cabaret had been the focus of strong political and social satire - as demonstrated by Bertolt Brecht's career).
At that time the theater office became one of the major theater presenting bodies and soon theatrical activity across the country was under the control of the office. It employed theater students and graduates from universities and distributed them all over the country to form theater groups in all the other major cities, naturally under the control of the office. This policy obviously had to further strengthen the Bureau's political and social control over the theater in Iran as a whole. Another Bureau policy was to try to bring all writers together as clerical men by paying $ 300 for each written work, provided it was approved by the Bureau's regulations. The bureau cunningly formed a censorship council without major problems. After the performance of performances such as Varazil's Bastonieri that had a big impact on the audience, a Safeguard Office decided to form a council for the readings to be reviewed before passing or being rejected.
Government theater could be divided into two divisions, one in the theater department attached to the ministry of culture and art, and the other, those groups and theaters that were funded and established by the Iranian National Television. The next major groups were Teatre Shahr (the city theater), the most modern type of theater of the time, with a complex of three theaters. the idea was to build something like the London National Theater, to support groups like Kargah Namayesh (the theater workshop). The groups in the theater department were:
National Art Group
Group of people
Group of cities
and many other groups and companies across the country.
Festival of popular tradition
The Shiraz art festival committee also held another festival in 1957, emphasizing culture and tradition. The festival whose purpose was to develop traditional theater and rituals took place annually from 1975 to 1978 in Isfehan, in the Iranian improvisational theater and other forms of theater, related to the popular tradition that was performed and occupied a special place in the program. Theater companies from all over the country came to the festival and performed different stories, all centered on Ru-Howzi and Ta'zieh and other types of popular performances such as Parde Khani Naghali, Poppet theater, Folk Dance. For the performing artists, the festival was an opportunity to showcase their skills, which were threatened by the effect of mass communications, and they hoped those occasions would help promote recession and possibly the presentation of a living tradition.
The impact of the theatrical activities of the Marxist-Socialist school on the development of Iranian theater
The cultural activity of the Marxist-Socialist school, especially in the theater, begins with the formation of the Tudeh party of Iran. The Tudeh party emerged after Reza Shah's abdication and the release of less dangerous political prisoners. In 1937 twenty-seven members of the fifty-three Marxists, who had been imprisoned, formed the party of the Iranian masses. The Tudeh party was soon able to manage to use culture and art, especially the theater. Most of the leading intellectuals and artists became sympathetic members of the Tudeh party. Among these artists and writers, the man who took responsibility for the theatrical activities of the Tudeh party was Abd al Hosein Nushin. His theater was mostly inspired by the Book of Kings and Persian literary masterpieces, such as Nezami's Khamse and Saadi and A Thousand and One Nights. He believed he could use Persian literature to create a new theater. So he writes in his book: “Iran is a country of poetry. Dramatic works are not present in our history. We are not Greece. Our value is in literature and in the epic. Then we have to use this potential. We have a great heritage like Ta'zieh or Ru howzi. These materials build my theater. " Nushin's success caused an angry and unfavorable reaction among the intellectual circles of Reza Shah's time. Nushin, along with other actors, founded the School of Dramatic Arts in Tehran in 1939. He was interested in the Brechtian system and believed that Brechtian theater had common roots with Ta'zie. The estrangement is a major element in both Bertolt Brecht's theater and in the Ta'zie. In short, he wanted to combine the Western theater structure with Persian theatrical rituals based on Iran's multi-ethnic culture. In the period when Nushin contributed to the development of theater in the country, the traditional Iranian theater, which belonged to the feudal society, was deteriorating, as, due to modernization, these traditions were no longer popular as before.
In 1945 Nushin left the theater and the Farhang Theater changed its name to Pars Theater. Nushin's goal was to preserve the use of the Persian tradition in its structure and conception. After a few years, he founded the Ferdowsi Theater in Lalezar Street. This theater began its business by producing Priestly's An Inspector Calls.
Due to persistent attempts by Nushin and his colleagues at the theater, a leap forward was made in Iranian theater which increased the competition. This change was so obvious that everyone who was competing with Nushin recognized it. Nushin was the first Iranian artist to write the book Tecnic of Acting on acting which was published in 1952 while he was in prison. He focused on teaching theater, and in it reflects his rich experience as an actor and director. He is the first Iranian director who staged modern Iranian theater, theorized traditional Iranian theater and harnessed and delved into its values more than ever. Iranian writers have been urged to prove their talent in writing plays and translating good European works. Nushin himself translated works by Shakespear, Ben Jonson, Gorki and Sartre. The activities of the Marxist-Socialist theater continued after the coup with the translation of Marxist playwrights such as Brecht. From 1962 to 1967, most of Brecht's writings were translated. Among these, the most famous, struck by the socialist school movement were: The exception and the rules, He who said yes, Hhe who said no, Szechuan's good person, La Madre coragia etc.
Contemporary Iranian dramatists and traditional theater
The first major drama that perhaps marks the beginning of contemporary Iranian drama was Jafar Khan, Returned from Abroad 1905, a comic text by a young man returning from abroad (France) who becomes a snobbish and arrogant person.
Bulbul Sargashte of Nasirian wrote in the 1957 that had had a great effect in the Persian drama. There are more than 50 years of difference between Jafar khan and Bulbul Sargashte, during which many writers and playwrights emerged, but none of them was known in the Western world.
It can be said that Iranian theater was a local art. The Western world had no awareness of Persian works. Nasirian was influenced by traditional Iranian theater, most notably by Ru Howzi. He has written many comedies in this style and was one of the best actors in the modern form of Siah Bazi ever. Nasirin focused on producing plays, most of which were written by himself. In 1957 he wrote Afie Talai (The Golden Serpent), inspired by traditional forms related to the theater such as Naghali and Mareke-Giri. His production of Bunghah theatral (The Theater Company) premiered at the Shiraz arts festival in 1974, is a straight-line version of comic improvisation performance. Nasirin is the author of Pahlevan Kachal (The Bald Hero) and Siyah (Black Clown). Nassirian was the director of the Guruh Mardom (group of people), part of the theater department in the ministry of culture. Beyzaie is one of Iran's leading playwrights, theater and film directors. His work is influenced by ritual and traditional elements of oriental theater, although his philosophical vision is not clear in his works.
"Beizaie is still wandering among the philosophers and it is as if his work suffers from a kind of philosophical anarchism"
His first success came after writing his famous game Pahlevan Akbar Mimirad (Akbar, the wrestler dies). He also wrote Hashtumin Safar Sinbad (The Eight Voyage of Sindbad) and experimented with these three shows for puppet theater. He also wrote one of the best books on Iranian theater, Namayesh dr Iran, (Theater in Iran).
Among the Iranian playwrights who follow the goals of the Marxist-socialist school we find Akbar Radi, who has written many successful comedies concerning social problems. His style is influenced by Chekhov and Ibsen. His works are purely realistic and employ no symbols. Among his important works we find Ersiey'Irani (Iranian heritage) Az Posht Shishe ha (From behind the windows) Sayahan (Fisherman), Marg dar Paiez (Death in autumn) etc.
He had no interest in traditional Iranian theater and believed that these traditional rituals and theaters could not adapt to modern theater. He thought that the absence of drama in the history of Iran could only be compensated by taking a look at Western theater. A realist supporter, he said: "Iranian National Theater does not mean that we theorize, use and deform our traditions and our heritage in modern style. National theater is that theater that is written in Persian. "
BIzhan Mofid was known as a talented writer and director with his famous opera Shahr Ghese (The City of Tales). The comedy is a social satire in a kind of rhythmic prose that fleetingly explores problems such as poverty, lack of human compassion, sociability with race and deep distrust, woman and love, and other psychological and moral problems that exist. in human relationships. The city of tales is based on the story of children. The central plot, a black comedy, takes place as the inhabitants of the city of tales exercise their devious intrigues on the elephant, which is naive and ignored in the city. Everyone tries to sell him something, and when he refuses, the townspeople try to get him to part with his fangs which they know are of great value. When the elephant refuses to sell its tusks, the others take its tusks, plant them on its head and cut off their trunk. Little by little, the inhabitants of the city of tales put pressure on the elephant to declare its identity. At the end of the drama the elephant lost all his money and, most important of all, his true identity. The characters in the text are all animals representing humans, so the fox is a Mulla, the parrot is a poet, the donkey a turner etc. The form of the show is an interesting collage of folkloric stories. The protagonist is the music, which makes the work very original and very close to the heart of the Iranian people. Mufid wrote a few other comedies in the same style that didn't have the same success as this one. He also wrote a play based on the style of Ru Howzi, which was one of the most successful plays of its kind at the time. Jan Nesar (devout) Mofid died in exile in the United States in 1985, after fleeing Iran to conquer the Islamic revolution in 1979.
A great playwright whose work belongs indefinitely to the Marxist - socialist school is N, Navidi. Unfortunately, due to disagreement with pro-establishment intellectuals, Navidi's work was not published at all. Nonetheless he became well known and began his artistic career as a playwright by winning the first prize at the Shiraz Art Festival for the best show of the year (A Cane in the place of the grape harvest). This work was never produced by this organization as it was opposed to realism and sociological theatrical texts. However, they were unable to ignore the quality of his work. The other reason Navidi was not established as a playwright is that his plays were not published. From 1966 to 1973 his drama A Cane in the Place of the Harvest was not produced, and was first directed by Abbas Javanmard, Many of his other shows were later banned by censorship or did not make it to the stage due to lack of financial support .
Jashn and Honar, Shiraz Art Festival
The Arts Festival, Shiraz-Persepolis 1967-77, is a project of Archeology of the Final Decade, a platform that identifies, investigates and recycles cultural materials that have remained obscure, under represented, endangered, banned or in some cases destroyed. Retracing and reintegrating these materials into cultural memory counteracts the damage of censorship and systemic erasures and fills the gaps in the history and history of art. The Festival of Art was a radical artistic and cultural festival of performing arts, which is held annually in Shiraz and in the ancient ruins of Persepolis summer between the 1967-1977. In the early 70s, the Arts Festival became the leading transgressive platform to experience international exchanges of creativity and knowledge, to which a new wave of Iranian artists were actively connected. Jashn Honr was successful in his artistic and diplomatic engagement to bring together artists from all over the North and South, despite the Cold War political clashes. This once-in-a-lifetime event was interrupted by the 1979 revolution and was declared decadent in a decree by Ayatollah Khomeini. As a result, all materials associated with the festival were removed from access and officially banned in Iran. Consider the controversial 10-year festival as a historical object. The festival introduced artists and expressions from the global south into international cultural discourse on an unprecedented scale, radically dismantling the hierarchies of local and international narratives. It proposed a paradigm shift in opposition to, and beyond, the hierarchical authoritarian model of the European civilizing mission, shifting the center of gravity of cultural production and politics towards the re-emergence of others in the immediate aftermath of decolonization. Highlighting the discourse of minorities and marginalized within the geographical and political divisions of the "first and third world", it was, in essence, what Homi Bhabha would have called the rewriting of the third world. He focused on a radical cultural shift towards the present. The genealogies and rhetoric of the festival show that, contrary to general preconceptions, other modernities did not always look to Western traditions and canons in their quest for progress and modernization. Instead, the festival positioned Iran in a relationship with South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus countries, Latin America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Here, they turned south and east for inspiration. The festival has produced a precociously intercultural and heterogeneous melting pot that today faces our reality and our contemporary struggle with a homogenized global culture. The new universalist order consciously proposed to map a modern discourse about coexisting, temporal and aesthetic heterogeneities. In research, and in the revelation of, a common source, a universal reservoir, he consciously and circumstantially designed opportunities for artists to investigate the shared roots of drama, music and performance. Here, the varied but widely shared sensibility of the artists was determined to release universal cathartic and ecstatic powers. By avoiding conventional emotional devices, they sought a purer abstract resonance with elemental instinctual drives. By default, the festival became the main foundation and launching pad for meta-theatrical investigations that supplanted conventional definitions of modern and traditional, native and alien. Striving to achieve authenticity through nativist drives, Third World modernizers wanted to base their investigations on indigenous rituals, traditions, and folklore. The process of discovery, deconstruction and reorientation found a natural ally in Western, fluid and subversive avant-gardes at the international level, whose modernity sought a break with the constraints and stability of their traditions.
These trajectories were successfully articulated the following year through the theme of Theater and Ritual (1970), intersecting various archaic, “primitive” and primeval rituals with contemporary avant-garde experiments, which brought theater closer to its essence. The ideals of catharsis and a connection to the emotional core of the drama were unifying the underlying drives. Furthermore, the performative, represented by the "primitive", supplanted the textual or European tradition. A wide range of expressions including: influential Polish creator Jerzy Grotowski with Calderon's The Constant Prince; adaptation of the verse by Gorgani Vis-o-Ramin, Mahin Tajadod and director Arby Ovanessian; Les Bonnes by Jean Genet by director Victor Garcia and Teatro Núria Espert; Fire, by Bread & Puppet Theater directed by Peter Schumann; ta'zie of Moslem ibn Aqeel. Ritual theater “was the theme of the Fourth Festival, an appropriate choice from Asia still remains a rich storehouse of rituals and ceremonies and after a long period of little interest, the West is once again rediscovering its roots in the Asian arts. Shiraz was the ideal meeting place for the purpose. The most important directors who participated in Shiraz's jash honar were Robert Wilson with the ka mountain, Peter Brock with Oreghast, Grotowski with Prince Constant, Fernando Arabal for Lecture, etc.
Iranian post-revolutionary theater
After the revolution, the administration of the theater in Iran was under the control of the Ministry of Culture, which includes the following cabinets:
- The Ministry of Islamic Culture and Orientation
- Art Under - secretary
- The Dramatic Arts Center
- The theater office
The Dramatic Arts Center is the organization responsible for theater in Iran. The members of the office are professional theater artists, who have a monthly salary and who are required to work on a minimum of one production per year. There is a separate budget for those people who are not members but who work for each show. Each theater also has a manager and employees, who have no responsibility for program selection, and are limited to serving the production. Responsibility for the choice of production lies with the Dramatic Arts center. The theater company affiliated with the Center for Dramatic Arts, has branches in 170 cities across the country with approximately 30.000 members, both professional and amateur artists.
Other centers that work in the center of Dramatic Arts include:
- Women's theater center. This unity creates a production in which all artists and technicians are women.
- Center of Religious and Traditional Shows. This center works Ta'zie and Ru Howzi and plays Ta'zie in the Islamic month of Moharram and organizes the biennial Traditional Theater Festival.
- Puppet theater. This unit produces modern and traditional puppet shows for children and adults.
- Emrooz (today) Theater workshop. This center stages contemporary Iranian theater
- Experimental theater center. This unit produces a more modern theater and is in charge of having talks with international avant-garde companies all over the world such as Odin theater, Rohr theater etc.
- Theoretical research center, where researchers research theatrical subjects.
- Dramatic publications. This center publishes Iranian and foreign plays and research works
- TV Group. This unit produces videotapes and publications of theaters and conferences and theatrical activities.
Furthermore, there are other organizations that have theatrical activities together with the center of the dramatic arts.
- Jahad Daneshgahi. This center organizes the international student theater festival annually and publishes Iranian plays and theatrical articles
- Student Experimental theater center. The central unit stages the works of Tehran's university theater students. The ministry of culture organizes the Fadjr International Festival every year in February, lasting ten days. This is the celebration of the anniversary of the Islamic revolution. The shows in this festival come from provinces, capital and international companies around the world. The Fadjr festival is the most important festival after the revolution, which it replaced for the Shiraz art festival. The ministry of culture and the municipality of Tehran provide the venues for performances and performances. These usually take place in the evening and there are discussions between artists, critics and viewers in the morning. Some religious people, especially the Mullas were angry with Jason Honar, as of some immoral shows (in a foreign show there was a naked woman and a video showing her private parts).
The first traditional theater festival was organized by the Ministry of Culture in Tehran in 1989. This festival consisted of 20 Ru Howzi performances from the cities of Tehran, Isfehan, Gorgan, Sari, Kashan etc. In this festival there were four types of Ru Howzi: Siah Bazi, Baghal Bazi Haji Bazari Isfehani, as well as original performances with elements of traditional theater. This festival is biennial and since 1997 it has gone international. Tehran Traditional Festival is the most important festival of its kind in Asia and offers a great opportunity to share the ritual heritage and share the theatrical experience on the ritual theater. There are many invited researchers from all over the world attending the festival for conferences and workshops. This festival had a great influence on Iranian experimental theater. So many talented young directors have been influenced by this festival, who have been inspired by the spirit of folk and the traditions of the theater heritage in their theater. The traditional and ritual theater of Tehran is the ideal meeting place between Eastern and Western rituals. This Festival takes place in August.
The Peking Opera Theater, the Commedia dell'arte of Italy, Bhutto Dance, Kyogen, Burmese shadow theater, Cambodian and Indonesian puppet theater, Middle Eastern folklore dance, different religious rites from Latin America , Kabuki, the African tribal rites, are all the shows that have been brought to the scene during these twenty years. This festival is one of the most important theater festivals in Iran and the Middle East, along with the Fajr Theater Festival and the Unima Festival (Mubarak).
In 1969 a young Iranian actor named Mohammad Ghaffari took British director Peter Brook to the village of Neyshabur in northeastern Iran to watch Ta'ziye ritual.As I have already explained, this ritual is presented once at the year to tell the story of the Battle of Kerbala, in which Muhammad's grandson Hussein and his followers were killed in 680 AD
Mr. Ghaffari, who had been fascinated by Ta'ziye since childhood, took great pleasure in Mr. Brook's amazement as they watched the actors reenact the massacres, betrayals and beheadings that led to the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, one of the holiest events in the history of the Shia Muslim religion. As they still do throughout Iran, the audience responded with screams of pain.
Encouraged by Mr. Brook's enthusiastic response, Ghaffari, now 58 and living in New York, has devoted much of the past 33 years to preserving the genre, researching the best Ta'ziye artists in Iran and staging their work in international festivals. Mr Ghafari in a special interview with me, remembers that moment and Peter Brook's reaction to the Ta'zie. Ghafari states: "Brook told me that if one day the theater goes into decline, only a ritual like Ta'zie can save it." Eugenio Barba in the winter of 2016 also saw Ta'zie in the theater of the city of Tehran. In an interview with Iran Theater Agency online he said: “Today I saw the strength of the actors who felt fully committed to their work, and this was not just a commitment, but a skill and power in the kind of show that, together with the musical and vocal power of a simple carpet, he presented the best performance to the public. Anyway, I know that managing Ta-zie in an enclosed space is not a common problem, but since you were able to show us a corner of Iranian art, this experience was incredible for me. "
Iranian traditional art has been a very rich source for contemporary theater and experimental theater in Iran. In this chapter, I tried to shed some light on a part of the procedure that began about a hundred years ago. Iran is a historical and multi-ethnic country in which there are several national and religious rituals. Although the history of Iran, unlike Western countries, is lacking from the point of view of dramatic art, it was possible to build a theatrical culture, thanks to the legacy of theatrical traditions. Today in Teheran more than 200 shows go on stage every night and there are not a few traditional theaters and those that have been inspired by them.